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Nuevo Caminos / New Paths

Rev. Chris Lawrence New York, NY

2021-22: InnerCHANGE East Harlem NYC was launched in January 2019 by a family who had relocated from England back in 2014. The team is committed to Jesus-centered companionship alongside those struggling with the tough challenges of loneliness, loss of direction, isolation, and poor health. Nuevo Caminos is a project of Innerchange East Harlem, NYC which provides a network of Christian and church-connected volunteers (as well as those who are not professing any faith), who are trained and organized, to provide seniors in low income housing with unconditional, slow, patient “accompaniment” support. This befriending includes deep listening, home visits, and a range of programs which build advocacy and self-help initiatives based on seniors living in the same apartment building reaching out to each other and building community on site. This project focuses on 284 residents of a public housing apartment building, Gaylord White Houses (GWH) in New York’s East Harlem neighborhood. The grant will be allocated to building relationships with seniors at GWH to provide support, healthy activities and learning opportunities as well as constructing a new garden to serve as a space for community building.

2022-23: This renewal grant builds on the slow work of accompaniment being done with seniors at GWH. Called “Nuevos Caminos / New Paths,” the project is doing innovative community-building where on-site prayer groups are as likely to happen as bus trips and home visits. The groups engage with themes such as “how to build up a habit of gratitude?”, “what can be done to cultivate empathy?”, “why declutter your apartment?”, “how to find ways to “join back in” with the neighbors out there, who pass by the building in a tremendous rush?”. The hope is to cultivate intentional homemaking and community-building alongside residents who live together within the same four walls.

2023-24: The goals of this project are: 1) Sustainability: to re-imagine the work being done as a 10-year research initiative with a new network of partners in higher education, highlighting their approach in working in situ/on site, in a single location, to develop strategies for seniors supporting seniors where there is no staffing available and where support is dependent almost entirely on “citizen advocacy,” befriending volunteers who are neighbors (and sometimes from other parts of the city); and 2) Storytelling: to develop a deeper literacy among their five partner churches, and within the volunteer team, to develop a close and sustained reflection process for six people to enable Christian discipleship to be nurtured. Specifically, the project sees Christian discipleship as coming alongside and befriending the marginalized seniors and participants from the housing development. This is a next stage in creating a conversation of Christian storytelling, listening, and reflection on action.

Chris’s Grantee Cohort

Congregational and Community grants provide support for urban pastors, churches, faith-based community organizations, and theological institutions to share resources, ideas, and practices for life-giving ministry in cities across North America. Typically, we invite those who have not previously had access to resources or grant funding.

Chris’s Ministry
Program focus: Community