Patheos Featured Writers

Samuel Atchison

Rev. Samuel K. Atchison has served, by turns, as a welfare policy analyst, social services administrator, social policy consultant, and prison chaplain. He is the president of the Trenton Ecumenical Area Ministry (TEAM), which serves as a coordinating agency for the community outreach efforts of churches in Mercer County, New Jersey.

Educated at Rutgers University, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and Princeton Theological Seminary, Rev. Atchison has spent nearly 30 years serving high-risk and imprisoned populations. As President of TEAM, for example, he recently spearheaded a project promoting private enterprise among at-risk, inner-city school students.  Sponsored jointly by TEAM, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program of the Trenton Public Schools, Westminster Presbyterian Church, and Living Hope Church and Empowerment Center, "Empowering Youth Options", as the event was known, provided a showcase for student entrepreneurs to promote and sell their products while simultaneously offering workshops on issues such as teen entrepreneurship, conflict resolution, gang awareness and drug prevention.  The foundation for Rev. Atchison's involvement in such work was laid during more than two decades as an urban pastor, including 13 years as a full-time prison chaplain.

As a social researcher, Rev. Atchison worked as a consultant on criminal justice policy with Public/Private Ventures, a Philadelphia-based policy research firm, where he helped to create Ready4Work, a federally-funded, $27 million prisoner re-entry demonstration; and was one of the minds behind the creation of Amachi, which was the model for the federal Mentoring Children of Prisoners program.  He also served for many years as a fellow and advisor of the George H. Gallup International Institute, a social policy think tank that was affiliated with the Gallup Organization.  In addition, he served as a non-resident senior fellow with the University of Pennsylvania's Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society (PRRUCS).

An award-winning social commentator, Rev. Atchison has written more than 400 articles on religion, race relations, public policy and urban affairs.  His work has been cited by a broad range of religious and policy scholars, and has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Charlotte Observer, The Cleveland Plain-Dealer, The Christian Century, The A.M.E. Church Review, and The Covenant Companion. His essays have also been featured in a number of online venues, including The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and the online editions of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Bermuda Sun, and Baptists Today.

He has been married since 1985 to Fran S. Atchison, a sociologist and expert on urban education reform. They reside in Trenton with their four children. 

Works by Samuel Atchison
Toward a Relevant Ministry
Samuel Atchison | January 16, 2012
Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. means taking an honest look at the relevance of our......
Keeping the Peace Behind Bars on September 11
Samuel Atchison | September 07, 2011
A prison chaplain's experience in the wake of 9/11 illustrates the important role of......
Social Conservatism and White Protestant Hegemony
Samuel Atchison | May 22, 2011
Christians who oppose abortion and same-sex marriage should understand how the cultural......
Young professionals are moving into the city centers, while the poor are fleeing to the......
The Indispensable Prison Church
Samuel Atchison | April 20, 2011
Churches inside prison walls give the incarcerated a sense of significance, dignity, and......
The Prisoner as Scapegoat
Samuel Atchison | April 06, 2011
Is there redemption for the scapegoat? Are we willing to forgive, assist them, and --......
Dear Son: A Letter from an Incarcerated Father
Samuel Atchison | March 24, 2011
How does a believer behind bars pass on his faith? A glimpse into the heart of an......
A Gangsta for God?
Samuel Atchison | March 10, 2011
Earlie Harrell is an unlikely peacemaker, a Blood who works through the gang to save......
Incarcerated Families
Samuel Atchison | February 25, 2011
The American approach to incarceration makes the children of imprisoned fathers more......