Coalition Building for Statewide ChangeThe Interfaith Coalition to Promote the General Welfare began as an ad-hoc coalition of congregations to respond to the 1996 Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) legislation. Its formation was initiated in 1997 under the direction of the Tikun Olam Committee - that is, the Hebrew Social Justice Committee - of Mishkan Shalom, a Jewish synagogue in West Mount Airy, Pennsylvania. Mishkan Shalom, which was started by individuals who wanted to include social justice work in their faith practice, garnered the support of 10 other local congregations who also had social justice initiatives in place to form the Interfaith Coalition. According to Vivian Schatz, a representative of the Interfaith Coalition, this was just “a local expression of what was happening around the state," as other interfaith groups, such as the Statewide Coalition of Christians and Jews, were lobbying for welfare reform.
Member Bodies and RelationshipsThe coalition encompasses religious congregations in three neighborhoods located in the outskirts of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which include West Mount Airy, East Mount Airy, and Chestnut Hill. Each congregation has a coalition representative who serves as the key congregational contact person and who participates on one of the group's three committees: the planning committee, the legislative lobbying committee, or the committee to share religious services together. The representative is responsible for sending frequent e-mail updates and supplying information via congregational newsletters and church bulletin inserts. Quarterly reports and action alerts regarding current lobbying activities and legislation are also distributed by the coalition representative.
Working for ChangeIn its efforts to repeal the 1996 TANF legislation, the coalition had advocates write letters to their congressmen and meet with state representatives at the legislative headquarters in Harrisburg. The coalition also invited state representatives to join public discussions and for local speaking engagements. Through these endeavors, the coalition successfully contributed to the effort which helped extend the categories of those who were eligible for welfare benefits in Pennsylvania.
Congregations most recently involved: