Social scientist and demographers have identified May 23, 2007 as the transition date when the world urban population finally went over the 50 percent mark. It took a long time to happen but in reality urbanization is a rather recent and rapid phenomenon. In the past 107 years the world’s urban population leapt from 13 percent to 50 percent. It is projected that by 2020 we will have five hundred cities with more than a million people. We already have at least a dozen cities with over ten million populations.
Urbanization, however, is much more than population density. It has to do with distinct forms of human relationship, communication, interconnection, and complex patterns of cultural, economic, political, and social life that transcend the close knit patterns of smaller communities.
The church, however, is frequently not well equipped to respond to the challenge of urbanization. Models of the church and of ministry, more often than not, reflect a rural or agrarian understanding of society. If the church lags in its awareness of and response to the challenges and opportunities of urban life, it may be because seminaries and divinity schools are delinquent in preparing pastoral leadership for urban congregations. According to a recent study done by Robert Kemper, only one third of all accredited seminaries offer even one course related to ministry in an urban society.
This is one of the gaps we see SCUPE filling. As you equip yourself for ministry an urban world consider how SCUPE could be a resource to you. SCUPE offers a variety of high quality courses for graduate and undergraduate students interested in urban ministry, African-American and Latin@ theological perspectives, social justice & community development.
More importantly, SCUPE provides the opportunity for you to use the city of Chicago as a ministry learning context. This means connecting with some of the most innovative urban ministry practitioners, getting behind-the-scenes insight into the accomplishments and struggles of their ministries, and learning to listen to the city and community through a biblical lens that is both prophetic and imaginative.
Consider becoming involved though:
– our 2011 conference: the Congress on Urban Ministry
– our academic programs: various classes open to seminary students and lay learners
– our summer or semester long urban ministry internship opportunities for seminary students.
– Carol Ann McGibbon