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Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston:

An Inclusive Organization Serving All Members of the Community

For over 60 years, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (Interfaith Ministries), a United Way agency, has brought people of diverse backgrounds together for dialogue, collaboration, and service, as a demonstration of its shared beliefs and to serve Greater Houston. Interfaith Ministries embodies the strength of shared beliefs through Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston and Galveston County/Animeals, Refugee Services, Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships, and Volunteer Houston and SERVE HOUSTON through the Vic Samuels Center for Volunteerism and Civic Service.  

Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston and Galveston County/Animeals delivers over two million meals every year to more than 7,300 homebound seniors and people with disabilities across four counties. As well, pets of seniors receive free pet food and other services through the Animeals program. Interfaith Ministries’ Refugee Services, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department and Episcopal Migration Ministries, resettles hundreds of refugees in Houston annually. Its Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships provides community services and education in order to foster understanding, respect, and engagement among Houstonians of all faiths and no particular faith. Volunteer Houston, through the Vic Samuels Center for Volunteerism and Civic Service,  connects volunteers in transformative projects with area nonprofits. SERVE HOUSTON, also through the Vic Samuels Center for Volunteerism and Civic Service, forms the leaders of tomorrow while meeting the community needs of today.


Interfaith Ministries’ predecessor was the Church Welfare Bureau (Bureau). It was established by the Houston Council of Churches in 1955 to organize the Protestant community to minister to those in need. In 1964, the Bureau became the Protestant Charities of Houston, a group that was joined and strengthened by the Jewish community.

The organization was officially chartered as Houston Metropolitan Ministries in 1969 and became a leading force in bringing people of all faiths together to serve those in need in the greater Houston area. In 1992, it was renamed Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston to reflect support from increasingly diverse faith traditions.

In an interview for South Texan Jewish Archives oral histories on the Rice University website, Martin B. Cominsky, president and CEO of Interfaith Ministries, says this of the organization: “It’s wonderful in this organization that we’re not debating theology. We are trying to understand people’s customs and beliefs and we’re trying to share that with others. In the end, we all kind of find the strength of shared beliefs in the service that we want to do for others. And this organization provides lots of opportunities, whether it’s refugees, whether it’s working with the elderly, whether it’s working with Animeals and the pets of the elderly, or whether it’s working for volunteers that want to commit their time to doing something more for the city of Houston.”

Recently, CKW Luxe had the opportunity to speak with Martin B. Cominsky ourselves, and talk with him about Interfaith Ministries, his role in the organization, and the role technology is playing in its services.

CKW LUXE: Please tell our readers a little about your background and how it prepared you for your position with Interfaith Ministries.

Martin Cominsky: I have worked in the nonprofit caring community all my professional life, starting in the arts and trying to connect nonprofit arts organizations with business people with skills a typical artist or arts company may not have. I work to be the bridge between people with different backgrounds and help them understand each other and ultimately build a community of respect. My work with the Anti-Defamation League and its No Place for Hate program prepared me to understand the challenges when fear turns into misunderstanding and, potentially, hate and violence. My goal has been to support people in coming to know others and to building strong relationships of respect.

CKW: Please explain what Interfaith Ministries does, who is part of it, and how it works.

MC:  Interfaith Ministries has four different program pillars. We are the largest Meals on Wheels in Texas serving Greater Houston and Galveston County. Some 5,000 seniors are served a prepared meal every weekday. The delivery allows us to get nutritious food to people in need as well as do a friendly check on their welfare and needs.  Sometimes, we are the only other person a senior sees in a day.

CKW: What are your responsibilities as president and CEO of Interfaith Ministries and is there a particular aspect of the position that you find especially fulfilling?

MC: I try to inspire a terrific professional staff and a community open to helping others. My job is to learn about, and understand, community problems and try to see how IM or other organizations might help solve those problems with those in need. I am fulfilled when I see a refugee happy and comfortable in a safe home in Houston, rather than in a war-torn country. Serving others and helping make life easier for our community brings me joy.

CKW: Are their any future plans on the horizon for Interfaith Ministries that you would like to share with our readers?

MC: IM understands the positive values of technology and how new innovations can bring joy and ease to solving great problems. Our IM Cares platform allows us to communicate regularly with our Meals on Wheels seniors via Alexa Echo Show devices or via Smartphones. It also allows us to communicate in several languages (Spanish, Pashto, Dari) with our refugees from Afghanistan and Cuba and with so may others that need our safety net in Houston.  It has been customized to meet the needs of our clients and to get the information that they need and want in their native tongue. It’s opening the world to our clients. 

It would be difficult to find another charitable organization that serves its community more fully than Interfaith Ministries. Its vision of “. . . a community working and acting together in response to the needs of a Greater Houston to create a more respectful, connected, and caring society” is well on its way.


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