Church of the Messiah Detroit is a 149 year old episcopal church on the east side of Detroit in a neighborhood called Islandview. The church is known for its many ministries including 200 units of affordable housing, internet services, its business incubation center for the community, and its literacy programs for young people to get into college. Church of the Messiah is also known for the fact that 60% of its congregation is african American males under the age of 30, and 70% of the overall congregation is under the age of 40. The church is also mixed race with people of all backgrounds in attendance. All of this is possible because of the spiritual commitment made by the church to make a difference in the world. Our young people are being trained to be leaders in the community through the power of the scriptures.
BLVD Harambee builds leadership through enlightenment, education, empowerment, employment, and entrepreneurship. Four young people ages 23-32 are being prepared for seminary for the upcoming year. Six of them are community activists, and five of them are broadcasters on our Christian radio show called “I Am Detroit!“ BLVD Harambee has helped six members to start their own businesses and two have community-owned businesses.
The goal of One Body Philly is to encourage increased dialogue among and between Christian groups, increase appreciation for the richness and diversity of Christian traditions, and engage in collective action as a unified body of Christ. We seek to accomplish this in the following ways: 1. Create a central platform to share existing initiatives; 2. Convene a diverse design team to curate and develop experiences centered on being and doing (prayer and action); and3. Develop EHC’s organizational capacity for ecumenical work through staff training and professional development.
To date, EHC supported neighbors and neighborhood nonprofits in hosting The Longest Night, a prayer service for those experiencing grief during the holiday season. Two book clubs were offered for EHC staff; the books highlighted traditions and practices from different denominations. An ecumenical Taize prayer was shared at an EHC retreat as an offering for staff to learn about Taize and experience Taize-style contemplative prayer and worship. EHC engaged with the Community Center at Visitation, an FBO, to reinstate and support their quarterly Interfaith Dinners as a gathering place for churches and FBOs in Kensington, and they have identified a lead for the design team to curate ecumenical experiences of being and doing.
Canadian Chinese School of Theology Vancouver (CCSTV) is situated in Richmond, B.C., one of the major hubs of Chinese immigration in Canada. The Canadian Chinese immigrant churches began in the early 1900s as a missionary outreach to Chinese immigrants. The Chinese immigrant churches have been an important place not only for spiritual and personal growth but also for social connection. They provide social, spiritual and emotional support as well as practical help to new Chinese immigrants to Canada. There are about 120 Chinese churches in the Greater Vancouver area. As of 2022, Christians made up approximately 30 percent of the Chinese Canadian population (Che, 2023).
With this initiative, we are hoping to promote mental and emotional wellness among the Chinese immigrant community beginning with the Greater Vancouver Chinese immigrant churches. We hope to focus on pastors and their families serving in the Chinese Canadian churches; new immigrants, singles or with families; and next generation - youth and first year university students. We also hope to create a web-based resource that is accessible to the larger public.
This project engages the leadership of Fuller Theological Seminary’s Center for Asian American Theology & Ministry (AAC), Centro Latino (CL), and Pannell Center for Black Church Studies (PC). Each are engaged in research projects with 18-25 year old Christian leaders in their respective communities/demographics. Building on this research, we will engage local pastors of color under the age of 45 to determine how they can break down the silos between their churches in order to facilitate multi-racial/ethnic/cultural collaboration for the benefit of the city. We will carry out individual interviews and focus groups.
We seek to understand (1) the changing needs and assets of the Asian, Hispanic and African American communities in the greater Los Angeles area (2) the current response of ethnic congregations to their context (3) the barriers that stand in the way of collaborative community ministry between primarily Asian, Hispanic and Black clergy and congregations, (4) the potential for identifying common community concerns and for supporting each other’s concerns, and (5) how Fuller’s ethnic centers could support these leaders and their churches in collaborating in community ministry.
CUME’s mission is to provide a contextualized theological education for urban practitioners. We partner with and are informed by the local church as a training partner. This grant would enable CUME to design its programs for institutional learning that would elevate how we engage the ministry needs of the city and the spiritual formation of ministry leaders in the current, critically evolving context. Specifically, this planning grant would enable CUME to investigate and design for that context and thereby refine its equipping of urban leaders through focus groups with key stakeholders.
We hope to learn from multicultural, urban practitioners best practices and models which they use in the urban church and various other ministry settings. We also hope to identify the components of our current formation practices that do not provide our students’ spiritual formation with the requisite multicultural skills and dimensionality. The learnings will then be used to shape our current and future program offerings and to inform our urban curriculum. We will also use the learnings to create tools as well as to publish our findings on contextualized urban spiritual formation as resources applicable to varied contexts for our current students and alumni.
The goal of this project was to develop and sustain urban ministry leaders at Seattle Pacific Seminary (SPS) who are committed to personal, spiritual, and communal flourishing in their own lives and the lives of those they serve. An ongoing gap in SPS’ work has been deeper, more intentional, and sustainable leadership development for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students serving diverse communities. In coordination with Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, this leadership cohort was formed to build closer relationships, make space for deeper reflection about ministry challenges, and practice the kind sustainable spiritual discernment needed for leaders to thrive.
For 2022-23, we focused more intentionally on the “Inward Life of Sustainable Leadership” in conversation with local pastors, spiritual directors, and experienced ministry practitioners. Through six gatherings over the course of about 10 months, we committed to fellowship, prayer, conversation, and discernment. We’ve learned that deep longings for communal flourishing require deep awareness of God & self, and that self-care is a sacred, essential act.
Wesley Theological Seminary has long been a place that has fostered innovation, both within the classroom and beyond. For nearly 10 years, Wesley’s Community Engagement Institute has had a “fellows” program that has allowed students to create and implement unique community-based projects with regular teaching, mentoring, and collegial support over the course of six semesters. With the help of our HUB Grant, the Community Engagement Institute (CEI) Fellows Program is transitioning into a Community Engagement Master’s Specialization, which will allow us to reach more students across more degree programs.
Through this new specialization we will be able to equip M.Div. and M.A. students with the opportunity to pursue community engagement and spiritual entrepreneurship within urban churches and communities through course work and immersions. Students will engage faith-based community leaders and their churches who are partnering with others in their community to engage in innovative community revitalization and transformation. Exploring the practice of ministry in the context of distinctly different urban settings will provide students with the chance to engage in critical conversations with skilled urban ministry pastors and laypersons who are deeply committed to practicing a human-centered approach to ministry. It will expand their thinking about what it means to create the beloved community and enhance their ability as ministers to foster the well-being of all God’s people.
This grant allowed for the beginnings of a new network for leadership formation that has as its focus on being of use to a range of leaders in new missional communities within the ELCA, and perhaps as it grows, other similarly positioned old mainline protestant traditions. This is necessary work because the old mainline protestant traditions are in sharp decline, and their continued investment in traditional forms theological education do not effectively equip leadership for the growing group of church plants experimenting with God’s call to do “a new thing” (Isaiah 43). Our goal is to begin to build the foundations for an accessible, online, module-based leadership formation network that centers practitioners and communities of practice in urban mission sites. Two core objectives are key to taking initial steps towards such a leadership formation network: 1) to build partnerships towards such a network, and 2) experiment with building the sorts of modules that would make up the core of the leadership formation work.
Module leader recruitment efforts will privilege local expertise, and will decenter the typical Ph.D. required in seminary faculties. Further, modules will be built in conversation with practitioners and potential students as well as module leaders. Modules will be built cross-sectionally from the historic divisions and fields of the theological curriculum.
The Gleaning Project is bringing renewal to our marginalized neighbors and caring for the Earth through art. Through a partnership with Storefront Church, we are focusing on the communities along the High Line. We collect discarded materials such as plastic bags, used tea bags, and aluminum foil. These materials serve as the canvas for our artwork, and we employ and train under-served individuals as artist assistants. The collected materials undergo a creative metamorphosis. They are meticulously cleaned, cut, crocheted, sewed, braided, and transformed into unique art pieces. This transformative process not only produces art but also fosters a sense of community, purpose, and healing among our neighbors. All the completed art pieces are showcased, marketed, and sold, and the profits generated are reinvested back into the project, fueling our mission and sustainable growth.
Over the past few months, the Gleaning Project has seen remarkable progress, with our partnership with Storefront Church growing stronger. We have hosted our first art exhibition at Neighbor, the church’s community space, helped to support the transition of participants to more stable life situations and steadier employment, and expanded the program into a one-year experience.
The VISIBLE Polylogue is a project focused on designing a curriculum that will enable participants to learn about Social Practice Art and its use in promoting change in urban and minority communities. We will involve Christians in a dialogue with local community organizations to learn about needs within the Asian American communities using art based workshops. The curriculum will provide training on what Social Practice is and give examples of different social practice artists and their work in various mediums.
The curriculum will also provide participants with the opportunity to learn different tools that can be used to communicate messages artistically. Since July we have been working on developing the curriculum modules and plan to begin the program training in January. We have decided due to geography and travel that we will convene our trainings on zoom, with our final event in person at a location to be determined.
The Bureau of Friendship brings together five monochromatic performances about connection, intimacy and relationships. These performances are externalizing the internal emotions of what it means to be a friend. The Bureau of Friendship functions as a container to feel, experience and immerse oneself in radical softness. The goal of this piece is to create time, space and energy to honor and define friendships. In accompaniment to this artist approach to friendship, I am partnering with my church to create a Formation Group around Biblical Friendship. The hope is to engage Oasis Church Chicago’s mind in the concepts of what it means to live in the world and be a Christ-like friend. The Formation Group will challenge and encourage people from Oasis to invite people to the Bureau of Friendship weekend.
I have broadened my team and brought on a co-collaborator. We project for the popup weekend to happen in March/April of 2024. The Formation Group will lead up to the weekend-long performance.