Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
 

East Harlem Protestant Parish records, 1942 -- 2007

Summary Information

Abstract

The East Harlem Protestant Parish (EHPP) was an interdenominational ministry seeking to provide leadership in the development of community life, and was an excellent example of an ecumenical ministry in a local, inner-city setting. The collection contains documents and photographs of the churches, individuals, programs, and committees of the EHPP.

At a Glance

Bib ID 4492445 View CLIO record
Creator(s) East Harlem Protestant Parish (New York, N.Y.)
Title East Harlem Protestant Parish records, 1942 -- 2007
Physical Description 21 linear feet (21 linear feet; 41 boxes)
Language(s) English .
Access

This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.

Onsite storage.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in six series: Series 1: Administrative files; Series 2: Minutes and reports; Series 3: Publicity materials; Series 4: Parish and ministry records; Series 5: Special programs and staff committees; and Series 6: Student and staff papers.

Description

Scope and Contents

This collection contains administrative information, minutes and reports, photographs, slides, publications, and committee and ministry information related to the EHPP. Many of the records show the long-term planning that EHPP undertook related to studying the organization of the Parish, the nature of the Church and the work of the ministry, and looking at the financial structure of the Parish. Materials include financial records for the organization including parish budgets and reports, and other general background information.; records of the board and other staff and steering committee materials; photographs, slides, magazines, pamphlets, articles, a film, and newspaper clippings as publicity for the EHPP; specific information related to the Churches of the EHPP, as well as Group Ministry which applied to all of the churches; information on the various committees and special programs run by the EHPP; as well as student and faculty records. More detailed information is available at the series level.

  • Series 1: Administrative files, 1948 -- 1973

    This series contains financial records for the organization including parish budgets and reports, and other general background information. These documents facilitated the operations and management of the EHPP, but do not relate directly to programs that helped the Parish achieve its mission.

  • Series 2: Minutes and reports, 1947 -- 1975

    This series contains records of the board and other staff and steering committee materials. The Board of Directors consisted of members that were elected by the Corporation. The Steering Committee was the local authority of the Parish, while the Administrative Committee carried out the decisions of the Steering Committee. Often there were meetings bi-weekly to think through the future plans and goals of the ministry. Monthly reports were sent to the Administrative Board. These documents contain information on programs, personnel changes, budgets, speaking engagements and other events. The documents also contain information on the focus of the EHPP's social action, such as the quest for better ambulance service and involvement with political campaigns. The Churches that were part of the EHPP are also featured prominently, including the long-term discussion of building issues which in the case of the Church of the Resurrection were rectified in the 2000s with a new building.

  • Series 3: Publicity materials, 1947 -- 1973

    This series contains photographs, slides, magazines, pamphlets, articles, a film, and newspaper clippings. Some of the material is historical and informative about the Parish itself; other materials were for the EHPP to use internally or at events like a staff retreat. The Newsletters consist of the EHPP Newsletter, which was renamed the Star in 1973. The Parish Perimeter of the EHPP was an informal and internally printed newspaper with information on staff meetings, calendar of events, getting to know the staff, information and updates on parishioners, and other stories, usually printed in both English and Spanish. Many of the articles in this series were written by those who were directly involved with EHPP, including Bill Webber, Helen Archibald, Letty Russell, and Don Benedict.

  • Series 4: Parish and ministry records, 1950 -- 2007

    This series contains specific information related to the Churches of the EHPP, as well as Group Ministry which applied to all of the churches. The parishes were the Church of Our Redeemer; Church of the Resurrection; 100th Street Church; Church of the Son of Man; Church of the Ascension; and the Elmendorf Reformed Church. Materials include reports, minutes and committee materials, correspondence, articles, financial records, program information, member lists, and other materials.

  • Series 5: Special programs and staff committees, 1947 -- 1998

    This series contains information on the various committees and special programs run by the EHPP. The Parish Council and Staff Committees ran the following committees: strategy, Parish Acres, education, school and colleges, Church life, Narcotics, Christian economics, Friendly Town, and Personnel. The Special Programs were Parish Acres, Narcotics Clinic, Legal Aid, Credit Union, Medical Clinic, Casework Referral, Conservatives, and Dominoes. Materials include reports and other committee records, surveys and interviews, correspondence, writings, information on individuals treated, budgets and financial records, educational and worship resources, and other materials.

  • Series 6: Student and staff papers, 1942 -- 1966

    This series contains student and faculty records.

Burke Library record group:

Union Theological Seminary Archives: UTS 1, papers of faculty and students

Using the Collection

Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Conditions Governing Access

This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.

Onsite storage.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.

Preferred Citation

Item description, UTS1: East Harlem Protestant Parish records, series #, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Related Materials

Letty Mandeville Russell papers, 1952-2005, series #, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Norman and Margaret (Peg) Eddy Papers, 1900-2013, series #, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Custodial History

Please consult Burke Library staff for pre-2015 box numbers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The exact provenance of this collection is unknown. The majority of the records were probably given between 1970-1987 by George W. Webber. In 2001, Letty Russell donated material from the Holy Cross College Archives.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Processing Information

Some material was cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-07-07. Union students as a class project in circa 1987 reorganized the original EHPP files into alphabetical subject order. An inventory from spring 1987 is credited to Benjamin Alicea. As no record remains of the original order, the original inter relational provenance information cannot be discerned. In 2015, the collection was grouped into series. The original box listing is available in the legacy PDF finding aid; please contact Burke staff to view it. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. Acidic items were separated from one another by interleaving with acid-free paper as needed. Any items in an advanced state of deterioration were placed in Mylar envelopes. The finding aid was created by Brigette Kamsler in 2015 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2022.

Revision Description

2022-05-02 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Photographic prints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sermons Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Slides (photographs) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Church and social problems -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Church finance -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
East Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- Religious life and customs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
East Harlem Protestant Parish (New York, N.Y.). Narcotics Committee Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
East Harlem Protestant Parish (New York, N.Y.). Worship Committee Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
East Harlem Protestant Parish (New York, N.Y.). Youth Committee Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Inner city parishes -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

In 1947, a group of students at Union Theological Seminary (UTS) became concerned over the middle-class nature of Protestant Churches in America, believing that the Protestant faith was reserved for those who could financially support their religion. The East Harlem Protestant Parish (EHPP) was founded in 1948 through the efforts of Truman B. Douglas and Stanley U. North of the Board of Home Missions of the Congregational Christian churches, and Donald W. Strickler of the New York City Association. Three UTS graduates were also important to EHPP's founding: Donald L. Benedict, George Williams (Bill) Webber, and J. Archie Hargraves. The supporting organizations for the EHPP were: Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational Christian, Baptist, Evangelical and Reformed, Reformed, Evangelical United Brethren, New York City Mission Society, Union Theological Seminary, Protestant Council, and the National Council of Churches. Two basic ideas were important from the beginning: that to approach an area like East Harlem must be through a group ministry within specific geographical limits; and that the churches and ministers must be more accessible. EHPP was a ministry to an inner-city community which received local, national and international attention. Instead of spending money on expensive buildings, EHPP thought money should go towards personnel. EHPP rented vacant stores in the areas and used them for worship and youth centers. The store fronts were more accessible and brought the Parish closer to the people. The East Harlem churches that were originally involved with the Group Ministry were Elmendorf Reformed Church; Church of the Resurrection; 100th Street Church; East Harlem Interfaith; Church of Our Redeemer; Church of the Son of Man; and Church of the Ascension The parish founders designed and implemented a model for urban congregational witness using experimental modes of ministry. The modes of ministry used by the parish included: the storefront church, the group ministry with its disciplines, the agape meal, social action, community activism, worship as the center of community life, and much more. Struggling urban congregations, aspiring seminarians, and concerned denominational leaders placed great hope in the work of the parish ministers. They mobilized interdenominational resources to evangelize a poor multi-racial community and wrote an important chapter in American urban church history.

EHPP was active in helping with the needs of the community, including helping with the heating situation in apartments, finding summer camps for youths, friendly hospitalization for people were afraid of the city hospitals, and relief funding. Social action was another important activity of EHPP and it was considered part of Christian Action. The parish advised parishioners on Union strikes and activities, marches, protests and other petitions. The EHPP valued taking social action in the East Harlem community because the Parish could move quickly when cases of injustice arose. In the monthly report to the Administrative Board in February 1952, Donald Benedict recounted some of the dramatic actions taken by the EHPP over the past three years: He told of marches on the police station protesting police brutality, the protest meetings and petitions for better housing, the vacant lot drama showing the evils of narcotics, the relocation of dispossessed and poorly housed families, the use of thermometers to get heat in apartments, and recounted many more stories of work on individual welfare, court, family, health, housing, education, and employment cases. While the EHPP was taking action to protest these injustices, they were doing their part to help those affected. Many of the programs led by the EHPP came out of their social action work.

In 1962, the organization sent a memorandum to the Board of Directors requesting that they study the role and structure of the Parish in its Mission to East Harlem, future directions the program could take, and its relationship to the total mission of the church in East Harlem. The Board was asked to review what the Parish was organized to be and do. This memorandum examined what the EHPP had done well, but also its failures – some of those being the limitations of the storefront church and the group ministry model; that the Parish would need to relate to the social work profession rather than be a substitute for it, and other experiments that never got off the ground. The EHPP questioned if it should continue or evolve into a new vehicle for cooperative mission for East Harlem. The EHPP as originally conceived ended in 1968, and became decentralized units with individual congregations, not linked by the central Parish. The Board of Directors continued into the mid-1970s and would report on the individual units. Original members such as Peg Eddy and Bill Webber resigned in their official capacity in the organization, as the EHPP that continued in name at that time was quite different than what is was originally intended to support. The East Harlem Protestant Parish officially dissolved in 1977.