A united faith community . . . working together to build strong families and healthy, thriving children.
Members from six downtown Columbia churches began meeting in 1967 in the offices of the Methodist Advocate and drafted a proposal in January 1969 to establish an ecumenical Columbia Urban Service Center to "offer a diversified program of building and neighborhood centered social welfare and related services to the center city area of Columbia."
The Oliver Gospel Mission became the center of the new organization’s operations. The center was officially founded in July 1969 and became incorporated on August 25 of that year. The founding downtown churches are First Presbyterian, Trinity Episcopal, St. Peter’s Catholic, First Baptist, Washington Street United Methodist and Ebenezer Lutheran. Rev. Marvin Lare was hired as the new organization’s first director.
In 1975, the name of the new agency was changed to Community Care. Rev. Lare greatly expanded the services the organization was able to provide including operation of:
- The Oliver Gospel Mission from 1969 to 1988
- A Drug Response Program from 1971 to 1978, when it became the Lexington-Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council, LRADAC
- Meals-on-Wheels from 1975 to 1977, when it was transferred to the Midlands Council on Aging
- The USDA Food for Children Summer Program from 1978 to 1981
- Care Coordination for the Health-Impaired Elderly from 1980 to 1984
- The USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program from 1981 to the present, 29 years
- The Greater Columbia Cooperative Ministry from 1982 to 1986, when it became a separate agency.
In 1986, Rev. Lare resigned to become the Executive Director of the South Carolina Institute on Poverty and Deprivation and Ms Joanne Emerson was hired as the agency’s second director. In 1988, the name of the agency was changed to Interfaith Community Services of SC, Inc. as the agency’s focus became statewide. Under Ms Emerson’s leadership, partnerships and programs were again expanded. Ms Emerson was a founder of the SC Association of Non-Profit Organizations, the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and a low-country micro-enterprise initiative. New programs during this period included:
- Child Care Resource and Referral
- Partnership South Carolina
- A Religious Youth Work Initiative, sponsored by Kids Count.
- The Child Care Provider Toy Lending Library, supported by the Junior League and The Children’s Trust
- The Child and Adult Care Food Program, Low Income Expansion
Ms Emerson retired at the end of 2007 and the third director, Marga McKee, was hired in early 2008. In the future, Interfaith looks to expand the work of its newly formed Faith and Community Based Resource Center, and the training and technical assistance it offers to child care centers located in churches. Interfaith seeks to build on its work with Family Child Care providers with more intensive nutrition training, as well as work in areas that indicate persistent poverty such as family literacy, parenting and child development. Interfaith will broaden partnerships and programs that focus on its mission and continue its work with faith and community groups to meet the needs of children and families in South Carolina.