Bethel Institute for Social Justice was founded in April 2009, by Rev. Ray A. Hammond, M.D., M.A., and Rev. Gloria White-Hammond, M.D., M.Div., co-pastors of Bethel AME Church, to raise and manage funding for community-based academic and social service programs; and to support partnerships in service to Greater Boston’s high risk-youth and families.
In March 2010, Bethel Institute for Social Justice obtained its IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt papers to enable funders, prohibited from making gifts directly to religious organizations, to support the Church’s efforts to serve community residents, especially those with the greatest needs. During the early years, the majority of the funding raised was used to complete the renovation of buildings designated primarily for community use on Bethel AME Church’s new campus, and to support critical youth programs displaced during construction.
Today, Bethel Institute supports a variety of staff and volunteer led model programs, one of which—the Fatherhood Program---has been replicated state-wide. It also provides space to house educational and youth development services for other nonprofit organizations whose work is consistent with the Institute’s mission.
Bethel currently leases two buildings to Roxbury Preparatory Academy Public Charter School, which currently houses its high-school program for 100+ youth on Bethel’s campus. Located at 40 Walk Hill Street in Jamaica Plain, Bethel Institute is managed by a Board of three members, with support from the Generation Excel’s Advisory Board of 11 members, providing counsel on youth development services. The majority of Bethel Institute’s services are housed at the Youth Center, at 84 Wachusett Street, which also serves as a community gathering and meeting place.
Bethel’s history begins with two practicing physicians, Drs. Ray and Gloria Hammond, who answered the call to follow their faith and expand their ministries to become healers of souls.
Because the communities in which they lived and worked waged an uphill struggle against a growing flood of drugs, guns, and gangs, they felt an increasing sense of urgency to start a new faith community that could make a difference in people’s hearts on Sunday, and in their neighborhood throughout the remainder of the week.
Launched in 1988 with five parishioners, Bethel AME Church has over the last 24 years, grown to serve 620 parishioners and approximately 4,200 individuals annually.
Birth of Bethel Social Justice Institute
In April 2009, Bethel Institute for Social Justice was created with the mission to provide educational and social services to high-risk youth and families in Greater Boston in ways that measurably transform their lives and the communities in which they live.
Bethel’s Campaign to launch its new Youth Center began in 2008. Click the link below to read the story of our journey to completion.