Magazine article The Christian Century

Edward T. Chambers

Magazine article The Christian Century

Edward T. Chambers

Article excerpt

Edward T. Chambers, longtime executive director of the Industrial Areas Foundation, died on April 26 in Kilcoe, Ireland. He was 85 and had advanced Alzheimer's disease, according to the IAF.

The IAF, which describes itself as "the nation's largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations," was founded in 1940 by Saul Alinsky.


"Chambers was the lead organizer in many of the IAF organizing efforts in the 1950s and 1960s," the foundation wrote. "He then mentored an entire generation of organizers and community leaders in what he called 'the skills of public life.'"

Chambers, who was the son of an Irish immigrant to the United States, planned as a teenager to be a Catholic priest "and made it as far as seminary before being ousted for questioning the Latin Mass and the priestly practice of turning one's back to the congregation," the New Yorker wrote in marking his death.

He became a volunteer with the Catholic Worker movement in Harlem, which led him to Alinsky. He assumed leadership of the IAF after Alinsky died in 1972. Stephen Hart wrote in the Century in 2001 that Chambers pioneered faith-based community organizing with IAF in the 1970s. …

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