Civic Connections

For a peaceful and democratic sense of community it is essential that the various religious communities in New York City connect and build relationships among each other. We help them by offering regular forums and collaborative projects regarding civic topics or institutions. Also, we serve as a consultant to both secular and religious organizations.

You can read about civic connections programs here, and for more information please contact Rev. Chloe Breyer at 212-870-3532, or cbreyer@interfaithcenter.org.

Courts Roundtables

ICNY aims to demystify the court system for religious leaders and link them when possible to accessible and affordable community-based resources. Religious leaders in all five boroughs learn about tools to successfully navigate the complex Family Court system. They become aware of the breadth of the Family Court in stabilizing and securing safety for families involving domestic violence, seeking child support, understanding foster care or adoption procedures, and resolving custody or visitation disputes. Topics change regularly as religious leaders find they have new questions that need answering.

Free Legal Clinics

The Interfaith Center of New York works with New York State Courts Access to Justice Program and New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) to bring free legal consultations to needy New Yorkers in every borough. The “Free Legal Clinic” (FLC) is a mobile team of New York State attorneys and court clerks that travel into the boroughs to provide free, private legal consultations to anyone in need. Legal counseling is offered in the areas of domestic violence, child custody and visitation, consumer debts (including bankruptcy/foreclosures) landlord/tenant issues, divorces, and immigration (including “U” Visas for immigrant victims of domestic violence).

Safe Exchange Program

At a 2007 Court’s Roundtable about domestic violence, religious leaders discussed the challenge of arranging a safe place to exchange children when the court orders visitation for  non-custodial parents with a history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or absenteeism. The cash-strapped courts considered police precincts, McDonald’s restaurants and Wal-Mart stores as de facto safe sites because of camera surveillance. ICNY launched a safe-exchange pilot program between the New York Family Court and St. Luke A.M.E. Church with assistance from innovative organizations including CONNECT, Safe Horizon, and the Center for Court Innovation. This pilot initiative recognizes that many houses of worship already serve as sanctuaries for gun amnesty programs, abandoned infants, and after-school tutoring programs. Over 20 safe exchange volunteer monitors have undergone domestic violence prevention and court protocol trainings, been approved by the courts, and eagerly await court referrals to test the success of this first-time all-trained volunteer pilot program in a house of worship. ICNY is in discussion with other houses of worship to expand the program to other boroughs.