The Faith In Action Story

(Compiled by Richard Shaneyfelt, Director of Faith in Action, 2004)

Faith In Action, Inc. began as an outreach program of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in 1980 and remained as such until 1982, when it was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit tax-exempt Michigan corporation. The articles of incorporation were signed by the Rev. Jerrold F. Beaumont (St. Barnabas, Episcopal), the Rev. Deacon Richard Cesarz (St. Mary, Roman Catholic) and the Rev. Erwin Koch (St. Paul, UCC), representing the efforts of our community churches working together to provide (initially) a limited number of services to residents of the Chelsea school district. The service area was later expanded to encompass all of Chelsea and Dexter school districts.

The original “home” of Faith In Action was St. Barnabas Church, where the food and clothing programs were slowly taking over the back of the sanctuary. It soon became obvious this arrangement was going to be totally inadequate and that new facilities must be found. A small A-frame building existed on the Chelsea Hospital Campus which was not in use except for storage. It was learned from Will johnson, President of Chelsea Community Hospital, that the building belonged to Madeline Papo, who graciously responded to our need for additional space. The A-frame remained the headquarters until the Faith In Action House was built. The new facility provided not only for Faith In Action, but also Chelsea Senior Citizens, the Washtenaw County Nutrition Program, CATS Bus, plus several other small organizations.

Faith In Action’s 1980 budget at St. Barnabas was $500. In 2001, it exceeded $100,000, with the number of people assisted increasing from a handful in 1980 to over 10,158—plus an additional 14,400 or so meals delivered to homes from either Faith In Action House or the Chelsea Retirement Community kitchens. The need for services increased some 12% from 1999 to 2000. The number of services provided increased from the original two (food and clothing) to 25, including a Free Health Clinic, counseling and program. It should be noted that, as in the case with Faith In Action House, no government funding supports Faith In Action programs, a fact that allows for greater flexibility and faster response to needs with minimal “red tape.”

In January, 2001, the Rev. Dr. Jeffold F. Beaumont stepped down as President of Faith In Action, Inc., after 20 years at the helm. He left a legacy of integrity filled with compassion and respect for the people served.

“It is often said that our futures are limited solely by our imaginations!” said Shaneyfelt. “We continue to seek out the needs of our communities, to work towards meeting those needs, to eliminate them whenever possible and to assist people to take control of their own lives by accepting responsibility for themselves. This is done by means of counseling, mentoring and other support techniques. As our communities face a decrease of state funding, Faith In Action anticipates an increase in demands upon its resources. Our goal is to continue the legacy of Rev. Beaumont, to continue to serve our communities and put our Faith In Action.”

Note: Richard Shaneyfelt has also retired from Faith In Action. Nancy Paul is now director of the organization.