Tag Archives: urban ministry

You can be a Peacemaker

You Can Be A Peacemaker 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry

Check out this new video for the 2011 Congress.  I just love that last sign: You Can Be a Peacemaker!


Hope, Imagination and Prophetic Preaching

The Art of Prophetic Preaching in the Urban ContextHow can hope transform the lives of individuals and communities?

What does it mean to be prophetic?

Where is imagination essential in incarnating the gospel?

Paulo FreireIn the newest episode of the SCUPE Congress podcast we delve into the human spiritual need for hope and the role of imagination in conveying the Kingdom of God. We talk with SCUPE’s President Emeritus and Founding Director Dave Frenchak, on the bustling streets of Chicago, about fostering the rich tradition of prophetic preaching in our lives and in our current day and age.

Highlights include: a preached introduction by Yvonne Delk, excerpts of Dave and Otis Moss III teaching their preaching class, a look at the work of Brazilian educator and pedagogical theorist Paulo Freire, and a nice smattering of sirens and cars noises!

Also, learn about the various other opportunities SCUPE offers to those interested in urban ministry, seminary education, and a model of doing theology that goes beyond classical paradigms that focus solely on learning about theology.

Available here:SCUPE Podcast Library


Peacemaking Insight #3 – Shanta Premawardhana

Incoming SCUPE president Shanta Premawardhana explains how the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry will give people committed to peace the tools to address issues of violence like gang violence, abuse of women, Islamophobia, and fear-based responses to issues around immigration.
Shanta Premawardhana

The World Goes Urban… Ministry?

Urbanization of the WorldSocial 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.

Church and the CityThe 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


The Promise Of Despair

“If death had a Facebook profile its interests would not be only putting people in the

grave but killing their dreams, their loves, their peace, their dignity”

The Promise of Despair: The Way of the Cross as the Way of the Church

One of my favorite former professors has just released a brilliant little book called “The Promise of Despair: The Way of the Cross as the Way of the Church“.  Dr. Andrew Root is a practical theologian and professor of Youth & Family at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN.  Though Root is primarily an academic he draws extensively from his experience in L.A. working with an as urban youthworker and as a gang prevention counselor, in his insightful writing.

Dr. Andrew Root

Allow me to begin by being upfront: this book is not an urban ministry book.  If fact, if there is one critique I would hold up about this book is that it seems woefully unaware of much that is beyond white, suburban, middleclass concern.  What this book does espouse however, is a way of being church together which takes seriously context – the context of people within the community and served by the community – in an entirely different facet that neither race, nor locale, nor class can claim exclusively.

Root’s book supposes that, for the typical American church, the context most easily/often ignored is that of despair.  How many  churches have you been involved with which seemed to have a holy presence in our lives until misfortune reared its head and then suddenly, as if someone had hung a quarantine sign around our neck, the church was wholly distant?  There is a natural temptation in life (and churches are not exempt from this) to actively avoid pain – to go to great lengths to outrun the despair that stalks us like a predatorial beast.

In church language, one might call this orientation towards a non-existent deathless reality a “theology of glory”.  What Andrew Root does so brilliantly with this book is remind us that Christianity is a faith based around a crucified God: a savior hanging from a tree after being publicly executed.  Root’s book stares directly into the cold, beady eyes of death and makes the bold proclamation that: death blinks first.  To be true to this core of Christianity it to be involved in a “theology of the cross”.  Luther’s classic phrase reminds us that just as Systems and Empires constantly destroy our hopes, in an attempt to relegate us to permanent despair, God is the one who meets us in our despair.  In the midst of our suffering, the resurrection takes its hold.

We live in a culture which is involved in the endless task of creating despair within each of us.  The finest example of this despair creation can be found in advertising (which I would argue has become the cultural engine and religion of late-capitalism).  Advertising works by creating a rift between what you have and what you want, between who you are and who you want to be.  The more you can be convinced that your face is too wrinkly,  your belly too bulgy, and your wardrobe too square the more likely you are to spend money on a facial, a weight-loss system, and Calvin Klein jeans.  The brilliance of the constant bombardment of images, telling us to “despair” of ourselves, is that it creates an environment in which you are doomed to never be satisfied with yourself the way you are – the way you were, dare we say, created.

The connection here then is that talking about “the despairing church” and “the urban church” are both ways for the church to become church more fully.  They are both paths to becoming church in a way that authentically and urgently responds to the reality of the community.  We encounter God in the midst of God’s people, not on some holy ground but in the unaltered, unadulterated context of their authentic reality.  And you can bet your bottom dollar that if you are truly encountering people where they are at you are encountering a heavy helping of despair.

Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry

Relationships Unfiltered

Other books by Andrew Root:

+ Root’s BlogTalkRadio site.