Friday, July 31, 2009

Focusing on Urban Ministry

I’m changing the emphasis of my blog to focus on what has been at the heart of my ministry over the years. I came to faith in Christ in an inner-city church on the edge of the Overtown neighborhood in Miami. It was a church in a transitioning community whose membership was dwindling.

The church was not going to make it on its own so the members partnered with others to expand its ministry. A Haitian mission was started, summer groups led VBS, and a weekday ESL program was led by members of a more affluent church. The church experienced revival. The VBS led to a children’s Sunday school, the church became a first pastorate for ministry students and, in time, the Haitian mission became strong and took over the building.

The call of the city was strong. While serving a rural church for a few years, I would return with mission teams in the summer to help in the renewal process of my home church in Miami.

Then I went to New Orleans for seminary and planted two churches in the inner city. I was energized by my colleagues who worked in so many different aspects of the complex urban ministry milieu. I also met Ray Bakke, who opened my eyes to the importance of reaching the cities first. My church, just outside the French Quarter, became a learning lab for my fellow seminary students and I to practice what we learned in the classroom.

Upon graduation I did a tour as a Navy chaplain but the city never left my blood. I settled in the Chicago area for 17 years where I planted two churches and helped sponsor others of many different styles and language groups.

I now find myself in San Antonio, enjoying a new city and the challenge of helping a 100 year old church catch a second wind and reach out to this community and people that Jesus loves so much.

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