Community Building

How to Throw a Block Party

  Weather permitting there is nothing more enjoyable than a block party—walking through a crowd on blocked off streets with the aroma of food and the sound of a band playing somewhere.  Have you ever thought about organizing one?  My focus here is the small-scale block party, the kind hosted by a congregation, faith-based organization, […]

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The Revival Center: From Social Service to “Mutual Aid” (Part Two)

How can congregations move beyond “helping” the poor to being in ministry with them?  A black Pentecostal church on Chicago’s Near West Side offers a model for pulling families out of poverty.  Serving as a something like a “mutual aid society” where everyone has a voice and anyone can ask for help, The Revival Church […]

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The Revival Center: From Social Service to “Mutual Aid” (Part One)

  Most socially minded congregations seek to “help” the poor through service activities such as a food pantry or clothes closet.  A better model might be the congregation as “mutual aid society” for its members.  Historically, mutual aid societies (fraternal lodges and labor unions are two examples) offered fellowship, equal participation and, more importantly, material […]

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Bridging the Class Divide: Lessons From Four Cities

  Last week we looked at a Morehouse College project in Indianapolis, Denver, Camden and Hartford that studied the relationship between congregations and high poverty urban communities.  The Faith Communities and Urban Families Project, directed by R. Drew Smith, was sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  The questions they asked:  What connections exist between congregations […]

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The Congregation in High Poverty Areas: Distance and Isolation

  Urban religious leaders often express a desire to bridge the social distance between their congregation and the surrounding neighborhood.  How can this be achieved?  First, it requires an accurate picture of the landscape.  In what follows, I will address a stark description:  churches and low-income residents in geographic proximity and yet worlds apart.  To […]

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Can DIY Social Action Make a Difference?

  DIY means Do-It-Yourself.  We are in the midst of a DIY revolution.  It’s time to get directly involved to improve one’s life, or so say home improvement retailers like Home Depot or Lowe’s.  Sometimes it is simply more satisfying (and less expensive) to pick up the hammer and do it yourself. Young adults in […]

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Facts About the Transgender Community (Infographic)

Nov. 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to commemorate the transgender persons lost to violence in the past year. The transgender community is so small (roughly 0.3 of the U.S. population) that only a small percentage of persons (8%) say they know someone who is transgender.  Yet the debate over gender fluidity on […]

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To Reach Fulfillment, We Need Community (Video)

Why not go it alone?  Each of us wants to be a unique individual and to determine our own destiny.  But here’s a fact:  we need community in order to achieve personal fulfillment.  It can be quite challenging to strike a balance between our individual needs and our life in community.  For Americans, individualism—that image […]

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