Reverend Charles Atkins, Jr. is a community activist, pastor, and chaplain from the New York area with a deep commitment to social justice and community organizing. He serves as a bi-lingual pastor of the French Evangelical Church of New York and a chaplain at the Garden State Youth Correctional Facility in Yardville, New Jersey. Reverend Atkins joined the ARC Advisory Council earlier this year due to his interest in expanding access to justice and equality in the legal system.
He recently took a moment to chat with us about the importance of community and the challenges urban communities face. Listen below and get to know Reverend Atkins a bit better.
What makes a strong community?
“If we don’t understand that we need other people, I don’t think we understand life.” “I think there is a place for public, private, religious, educational…and industrial institutions to work together to help people in a community move forward.”
Why is maintaining access to consumer legal funding so vital?
“One of things about consumer [legal] funding is that it gives people more time to really work out and deal with…urgent bills, or issues, or family… and be able to bring to a reasonable resolution the accident or dilemma that has come upon their lives.”
What made you want to get involved with ARC?
“I think religious organizations, and the people that are a part of them, should be working with other organizations to benefit communities. I found that being on this advisory council is my opportunity to bring a perspective of what it means to work with people that are dealing with various challenges, and to work with an organization…that gives people hope for the future.”
What unique perspective do you bring to the ARC Advisory Council?
“…a spiritual perspective. Spiritual in a sense of: ‘How are we not just helping people deal with their current problems, but how are we helping them prepare for a better future?'” “I’ve certainly had concrete experience with incarcerated and immigrant communities…a lot of people that are in financial situations of struggle…I’m really sensitive to the needs and perspectives of people in those types of situations.”