The INNER CITY PROTESTANT PARISH (ICPP) began in 1954 as an experimental, ecumenical, interdenominational, and evangelical group ministry to Cleveland's impoverished neighborhoods. Since African American churches received less aid than that provided to white churches belonging to more affluent denominations, the ICPP sought to establish churches and promote religious education and social reform in the Central area and near west side.
The ICPP was modeled after a similar ministry called the East Harlem Protestant Parish in New York City. Three members of the Harlem group ministry (including the Rev. Donald L. Benedict, ICPP executive director, 1954-60, and the Rev. William R. Voelkel, exec. dir. 1960-63) met with ministers, laymen, and denominational executives concerned about inner city Protestant flight to organize the ICPP in Cleveland. Governed by a Board of Trustees, the ICPP's Group Ministry operated under a set of religious, economic, vocational, and political "disciplines" providing a central worship experience, vocational commitment, and sharing of economic sacrifice. The ICPP organized its first two congregations in 1955. By 1961 4 more churches became ICPP affiliates and 1,469 families benefited from programs offering free medical and dental care, educational scholarship, a credit union and Friendly Town. Foundations, corporations, churches and individuals provided funding. By 1967 denominations sponsoring the ICPP included American Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, and United Presbyterian. By 1969 the ICPP was headquartered at 2230 Euclid Ave. In 1980 the ICPP became the INNER CITY RENEWAL SOCIETY. The Rev. Milan C. Brenkus was executive director from 1963-81.