In 1969 Northaven’s Administrative Board unanimously approved the establishment of a Human Development Fund (HDF) for the purpose of extending Northaven’s mission to urgent needs of the wider community.
The cultural context for the HDF proposal was the tumultuous intersection of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. Marches and protests were the order of the day. Out of this milieu came the Black Manifesto through James Foreman, a black civil rights leader in Detroit. The Manifesto called into question the priorities of white churches, especially stewardship of church finances and resources.
The initial plan for the HDF was to respond to the needs of disenfranchised groups in a direct and meaningful way, with special emphasis on needs within the black community. All Northaven members were given an opportunity to support the HDF with “second mile” one year at a time pledges beyond the regular operating and benevolence budget. The Commission on Mission was requested to research and recommend specific priorities for HDF grants.
Special consideration for funding was to be given to organizations lacking widespread public support with emphasis on projects or ministries involving the time and talents of Northaven members. Priority, but not exclusive, consideration was given to needs in the Dallas area.
In 1970, the first full year of the HDF, pledges amounted to $5600. By 1995 the HDF was distributing more than $38,000 each year. In recent years, HDF has distributed between $47,000 and $56,000 each year. The support of the HDF by each Northaven pastor through the years and the unfailing consistency of lay involvement have been the indispensable factors in the continuance and growth of the HDF. The HDF has become part of Northaven’s plan for mission, an ongoing spiritual and economic ethos embodied in the life of the congregation.
Over the years decisions concerning philosophy and methods of grant determination and the variety of issues addressed have been reviewed and refined. From 1970-2009 between $800,000 and $1,000,000 has been granted and distributed as an expression of God’s love and call to compassion and justice.
William K. McElvaneyPastor, 1967-73