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Summer Research Fellowships

Abigail Perkiss

During the summer of 2002, I shot a documentary about the Interfaith Community Building Group. The group consists primarily of members of a Germantown Catholic Church, St. Vincent's, and a Roxborough Reconstructionist Jewish Synagogue, Mishkan Shalom. They have been working together for the past six years, and have completed projects in Mississippi, El Salvador, and Philadelphia. My intention with this documentary was to explore how, through building physical structures, the group has been able to build a community as well.

The first picture is from the first summer that the group worked together. In 1996, several Philadelphia congregations came together in response to a string of racial church burnings in McComb, Mississippi. That summer, approximately 30 people, predominately from Mishkan Shalom and St. Vincent's, traveled to the Rocky Point Baptist Church o help with renovations. They lived in a neighboring church and worked with members of the McComb community. In this photograph, Steve Perkiss, one of the few skilled carpenters in the group, is working to repair the ceiling of the sanctuary.

The group, in addition to being interfaith, is also diverse in terms of gender and age. The second picture is of the kids who traveled to Mississippi, hanging out with some of the kids from Rocky Point.