No Boundaries Coalition
The members of St. Peter Claver have long viewed their parish as a refuge—a sacred space for conversation—where faith encounters the problems and realities that face the Sandtown neighborhood of West Baltimore. Four years ago, they helped form the No Boundaries Coalition (NBC), which helps bring faith into conversation with the realities around them. Together they open their parish doors for conversations about violence, community-police relations, and other issues the community faces. Together with other NBC members, St. Peter Claver participates in prayer and visibility walks to stand against violence and crime, such as those led by Bishop Madden. One recent walk drew 150 people to witness and pray at the seven latest murder sites.
After the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, NBC brought together 150 faith leaders and community members to gather at St. Peter Claver and plan their response. They helped distribute 10,000 pounds of food and supplies and mobilized 1,000 volunteers to clean up the community after the riots. They then interviewed residents in the area where the Gray incident had occurred, documenting their testimonies about police misconduct. When the Department of Justice later became involved, NBC’s report assisted their work.
Working with Catholic Charities, St. Peter Claver implemented a Safe Streets Program to train “violence interrupters”—trusted people within the community—to de-escalate tense situations that could turn violent. They regularly assist in a racial justice circle process, which includes participants from within and outside their neighborhood and seeks to explore oppressive systems and privilege. Their pastor, who is heavily involved in their work for peace, preaches often on the call for Catholics to be involved in this work.
NBC’s work has included organizing peace rallies, a produce market, advocating for school construction, leadership development, public art projects, block parties, walking tours, listening campaigns, and more. NBC is currently advocating for safer streets, increased police accountability, and healthier foods in the neighborhood.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development funds the No Boundaries Coalition, a resident-led advocacy organization building a unified and empowered Central West Baltimore across the boundaries of race, class, and neighborhood.