Mary Nelson

Mary Nelson is president emeritus of Bethel New Life, a faith-based community development corporation on the West Side of Chicago. She has served on the board and as Interim Executive Director for the Parliament of the World’s Religions for the last four years. She is also the former chair of the board of Sojourners.

Posts By This Author

The Mother Who Hated Nukes and Loved the Lord

by Mary Nelson 03-15-2016

“Why did you, American Mother of the Year, commit civil disobedience in front of the Trident nuclear submarine?” a reporter asked the white haired, 78-year-old woman as she left the courthouse.

The woman, accused of being in a little boat blocking a nuclear submarine, answered without a moment’s hesitation.

“I did it for the children of the world,” she said.

Extremes Stretch One’s Faith, Then Leave Us With Hope

by Mary Nelson 11-13-2013
Ron and Joe / Shutterstock

The reminder of Advent is the sure sense of hope. Ron and Joe / Shutterstock

“Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain, but then the Holy Spirit, revives my soul again.”

So where does this revival come? Often when we looked at a dilapidated building in our community, the revival comes with the eyes to see the possibilities of rehabbing, of new uses. The revival comes in community, in coming together to take action. There is nothing like some music and food, too, to bind us together.

Health-Care Reform is a Life and Death Issue

by Mary Nelson 07-27-2009
We need health-care reform to ensure that others aren't caught in the web of inconsistent mental health care and the inability to get needed medicine.

Push, not Protest, for a Budget with Better Priorities

by Mary Nelson 03-03-2009
Several years ago over 100 of us were arrested for blocking a Capital building entrance and protesting tax cuts for the 5 percent wealthiest people and program cuts from WIC, food stamps, college a

Hope and Action in Hard Times

by Mary Nelson 02-26-2009

In these times of foreclosures, tight budgets, and shrinking funds, community builders feel like Jesus' disciples with five loaves and two fishes and thousands to feed. During an earlier time before I retired from Bethel New Life, I reflected on doing more with less, and share this now.

Remembering Millard Fuller

by Mary Nelson 02-04-2009
Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity, died yesterday.

Lift Every Voice

by Mary Nelson 01-27-2009
I was there at the Lincoln Memorial Opening Inaugural Event, the Inauguration

Chicago Sit-in Victory: 'Yes We Can'

by Mary Nelson 12-11-2008

Hard Times

by Mary Nelson 12-05-2008

A Different Economic Measure: Quality of Life and an Economic Bill of Rights

by Mary Nelson 12-01-2008