This Far By Faith
While the target audience of the national outreach campaign was similar to that for the production, THIS FAR BY FAITH, namely African-American congregations and religious leaders, the content presented to these audiences was unique to the campaign. The focus shifted from historic to contemporary religious figures and to innovative faith-based social action programs. Outreach Extensions’ solution to achieve this new focus was to produce video modules on carefully selected faith-based programs and to develop community social ministry materials and workshop modules to facilitate utilization of the materials and replication of the programs in other communities. To highlight this shift in content and intent, the outreach campaign was named Faith Into Action. Since the outreach funder was The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), the 22 cities in its Making Connections Initiative were specifically targeted for participation – bringing the sites together with public television stations. Another purpose of the campaign was to engage faith leaders, serving black or underserved communities, as stakeholders in AECF’s Making Connections Initiative and to introduce them to the educational and community mobilization potential of their local public television stations.
In collaboration with the national outreach partner, the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Outreach Extensions developed a Faith Into Action Resource Guide that focused on six contemporary issues of social ministry: Faith and Economic Development, Faith and Criminal Justice, Faith and Health, Faith and Leadership Development, Faith and Diversity, and Faith and Identity Formation. The 152-page, spiral-bound guide supported the unique way faith-based institutions create neighborhood solutions. The companion outreach video, Faith Into Action, offered 15-minute segments on successful faith-based programs that addressed the six social ministry themes. Both the guide and video provided information and examples of faith community best practices that could support faith leaders in taking an active role in family strengthening and community building.
Eighteen PBS stations received grants to host facilitated workshops for faith leaders in their communities. Based on their interests and needs, each community selected up to three topics for exploration and action, using the media resource materials developed by the campaign. The project’s community partner, the ITC, provided content expertise as well as personnel to conduct the workshops. Workshop evaluations were a critical measure of the project’s success. Participants across the board gave high marks on overall workshop value, information received, and intention to use media in their future work. Both the Faith Into Action Resource Guide and the Faith Into Action training video were very well received in all sites. Participants also mentioned the opportunities for networking, fellowship, and action planning as particularly valuable components of the outreach workshops.
NOTE: Three social ministry themes – Faith and Economic Development, Faith and Health, and Faith and Criminal Justice – were translated into Spanish.