In September of 2017, in honor of the Synod of the Trinity’s 300th birthday, we awarded five Freedom Grants to congregations in our region. Freedom Grants were available for seed projects relating to a General Assembly priority around the plight of the African-American male. The congregations were awarded $5,000 each to pursue creative projects among themselves, with community agencies or in partnership with local municipalities to help remove the obstacles African-American males face.
What follows is a report from the Revs. Graham Robinson and Carroll Jenkins of Thomas M. Thomas Memorial Presbyterian Church in Chester, PA. The Freedom House is an initiative of TMT and Aston Presbyterian Church.
The Freedom House in Chester, PA, has received important financial support from the Synod of the Trinity’s Freedom Grant.
What started as a dream between Aston Presbyterian Church and Thomas M. Thomas Memorial Presbyterian Church (TMT) is becoming a reality in the city of Chester, just a few blocks from the seminary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Work continues to rebuild a house located on TMT’s campus in 2020 and 2021.
Eight students from Chester High School have been working side by side with mentors from TMT, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian and Swarthmore Presbyterian Church. This team of high school students and mentors is dedicated to transforming an unused property into a rehabilitation center. Students and mentors are directed by a highly-trained building supervisor and supported by local businesses, Chester High School, the Chester-Upland School District, Presbyterian Women, the Presbytery of Philadelphia, Presbyterian churches and the Synod of the Trinity.
The renovation of the house is expected to take 18 additional months. Presently, the focus of this program is to provide important job skills for the young black men of Chester. When completed, the Freedom House will serve as a drug rehab center for mothers who have been previously incarcerated and are seeking to raise their children.
In summary, the job training skills program will provide essential skills for young black men and transform an unused property in Chester. Ultimately, the Freedom House will realize TMT’s dream of providing moms a safe place to receive services and help them build strong families.