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Dr. John Perkins

Biography of Dr. John M. Perkins

Founder of Mendenhall Ministries

John Perkins and his family have been ministering among the poor for the last 40 years. In 1960 John Perkins, his wife, Vera Mae, and their children left a “successful” life in California and moved back to Mendenhall, Mississippi to begin ministry. In twelve years, John Perkins helped start a day-care center, a youth program, a church, an adult education program, a cooperative farm, a thrift store, a housing repair ministry, and a health center. Today, Mendenhall Ministries thrives under the leadership of Artis Fletcher and Timothy Keys.

Founder of Voice of Calvary Ministries

In 1972, the Perkins moved to Jackson, where they founded Voice of Calvary Ministries – another Christian community development ministry. Voice of Calvary Ministries started a church, a health center, a leadership development program, a thrift store, low-income housing development, and a training center. From this ministry, other development projects started in the neighboring towns of Canton, New Hebron and Edwards. Philip K. Reed, the previous pastor of Voice of Calvary Fellowship, has assumed the leadership of this dynamic ministry.

Founder of Harambee Christian Family Center

In 1982, the Perkins moved to Pasadena and founded Harambee Christian Family Center in Northwest Pasadena, a neighborhood that had one of the highest daytime crime rates in California. After 19 years, Harambee is running numerous programs including Afterschool tutoring, Good News Bible Clubs, an award-winning technology center, summer day camp, youth internship programs, and a college scholarship program. Derek Perkins, Dr. Perkins’ son, now serves as executive director of this organization.

Co-founder and Chairman of the Christian Community Development Association

In 1989, John Perkins called together a group of Christian leaders from across America who were bonded by one significant commitment-expressing the love of Christ in America’s poor communities, not at arms length, but at the grass-roots level. An association was formed, and Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), held its first annual conference in Chicago in 1989. CCDA has grown from 37 founding members to 6,800 individuals and 600 churches, ministries, institutions and businesses in more than 100 cities and townships across the country.

Publisher of URBAN FAMILY Magazine

In 1992 John Perkins began publishing URBAN FAMILY magazine in response to the breakdown of the urban family, the breakdown of the community, and the increasing violence within the inner city. The mission of URBAN FAMILY is to be a voice of hope and progress, offering solutions that emphasize responsibility, affirm dignity, build moral character, and encourage reconciliation. The circulation quickly rose from 13,000 to 35,000 nationally, and was expected to increase to 100,000 within the next three years. This magazine name was changed to a more appropriate reconciliation title, the RECONCILERS FELLOWSHIP. Unfortunately, after the untimely death of the Dr. Perkins’ eldest son, Spencer Perkins in January 1998 (who also served as editor-in-chief of this magazine), its publication was discontinued in the fall of 1998.

Founder of Harambee Preparatory School

In the fall of 1995, John Perkins founded the Harambee Preparatory School (HPS), a fully endowed elementary school providing quality education to prepare neighborhood children for college. HPS desires to see the children of poverty level homes receive a quality academic training in a secure and loving environment.

Despite dropping out of school in the third grade, John Perkins has been recognized for his work by being awarded seven honorary doctorates from Wheaton College, Gordon College, Huntington College, Spring Arbor College, Geneva College, Northpark College, and Bellhaven College. He is the author of nine books including A Quiet Revolution, Let Justice Roll Down, With Justice For All, Beyond Charity, He’s My Brother, Resurrecting Hope, and A Time to Heal, and has written numerous chapters in others. John Perkins formally served on the Board of Directors of World Vision, Prison Fellowship, NAE, Spring Arbor College, and fifteen other boards. He is an international speaker, teacher on issues of racial reconciliation, indigenous leadership development, and community development.