charges forward to revive cities for Jesus
Southern Spirit staff
According to a leading reference website, cities have been the
source of internal change and development within their civilizations since the
heights of the Aztec, Egyptian, ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Cities today
still have great impact on the development of civilization. That is why the
Office of Urban Mission was established at THQ. It is a continuation of the
Army's long-standing commitment to urban masses who suffer from substandard
living conditions, cyclical poverty and social injustice.
Modern cities breed a new kind of civilization, one that's
diverse and multicultural. So it makes sense to educate and train Salvationists
with skill sets to reach many nationalities.
Needham, assistant program secretary for urban mission, said that the long-term
vision of urban mission in the Southern Territory is to develop effective
community-based, incarnational ministries in which people are trained to do
three things: 1) Relational Ministry: develop friendships with people in the
community, 2) Faith Sharing: share their personal experience of the good news
of Jesus in their life and 3) Community Capacity Development: find out how to
restore the vitality of ailing urban communities.
ministry is not a call fitted just for officers either. Needham said,
"God's appeal for people to be involved in urban ministry is as broad
and flexible as are the five generations living on the face of the earth today.
Short-term, medium-term, long-term and lifelong all describe variations of the
Youth and young adult ministries have
caught the vision, taking inner-city mission trips annually. The Salvationist
Service Corps is sending teams to host locations in some of the South's
largest inner cities. New Orleans, for example, is a planned host location for
the summer of 2007. SSC team members will help rebuild in a city struggling to
rise above the ruins.
The Women's and Social Services
departments have become activists in the fight against sexual trafficking.
Evangelism and Adult Ministries personnel encourage Salvation Army Mission
Specialists to do outreach in corps where the challenges of urban life call for
There are many corps who are becoming
what's known as a "614" corps. While these corps can look vastly
different, their mission is the same. Based on Isaiah 61:4 these local
congregations aim to rebuild the ancient ruins and ...renew the ruined
cities that have been devastated for generations.
around the territory, corps, centers and shelters are working together to share
the light of God's love in the inner city.
DC embarks on
economic development project in urban area
Southern Spirit staff
William Crabson, divisional commander of the National Capital-Virginia
Division, has been living in the Anacostia neighborhood for 20 years. He has
witnessed its decline with high crime activity, high school dropout rates,
unemployment rates and single-parent homes. A suburb in the southeast area of
Washington D.C., this 70,000-strong community was in need of a new approach to
That new approach addressed the systemic
issues in the community, said Crabson. The strategy that began over four years
ago involved bringing in an outside group, Alpha, to survey the community; The
Salvation Army also set up an office in the community and polled residents.
"What surprised us were their solutions," said Crabson.
One of the foremost concerns of the residents was not social
services; they already knew where to go for help with that. It was not lack of
transportation - their public transport system worked just fine.
Rather, the community suggested a building - also known as the
East of the River Initiative - where businesses could rent space and begin
economic redevelopment in Anacostia. The Solomon G. Brown Corps Community
Center will be approximately 47,000 square feet and five stories tall. The
first floor will be used for retail space.
general secretary for the NCV Division, Captain Kelly Igleheart explained,
"They told us they didn't want another check-cashing complex or bail
bond." The Army is working with a realtor to bring in potential retail
clients, such as CVS.
floor will host a childcare center that's available to the community.
However, it will not be operated by The Salvation Army. Instead an outside
agency will be hired to run the childcare center, and rent will be paid to
offset operating costs of the building. The third floor will house the corps
community center, and the fourth floor will be used for workforce
"Another thing they told us," said
Igleheart, "was the need to be trained for jobs so [residents are
equipped] to work in the community." The Army is in the process of
identifying workforce partners to help people learn the skills they need to
build and sustain a career.
The fifth floor will bring the
unexpected to the Solomon G. Brown Corps Community Center. "We're
doing one thing in this center we never expected," said Crabson. He
explained that the residents didn't need another gym where the kids can
play basketball. "What they do need is a wellness center." The center
will be operated by a collaboration of 20 churches, which formed an
organization called Spirit. Spirit will operate the wellness center with
aerobics classes, cardiovascular machines and weight-lifting equipment.
The project will be funded by a large single gift given to the
division. Expected to be completed in 18 months, the Solomon G. Brown Corps
Community Center (named after a former resident of Anacostia) will employ a
Salvation Army officer who lives in the Anacostia community. Housing is
currently being built for the officer (yet to be announced) who will fulfill
All the strategies
used in the process of building the center have been with a definite purpose,
said Crabson. "We have a mission to pursue. I think William Booth would be
pleased; we made a commitment to do what the community needed and not what we
top to bottom:
Top: This is a proposed model
of what the completed Solomon G. Brown Corps Community Center will look
Center left: Lt. Colonel William Crabson
examines the latest model of the Solomon G. Brown Corps Community Center,
formerly known as the East of the River Initiative.
Center right: Anacostia has experienced a decline in the past 20
years due to rising crime and poverty rates.
Beverly Jeffries has been in the community of Anacostia directing the ERI at
the current facility. She is shown distributing backpacks as part of a
To hear from
urban mission practitioners about how God is reclaiming inner cities, apply to
attend the 2007 Urban Mission Forum Jan. 9-13, 2007, (just before ROOTS) at the
Continuing Education Center in Atlanta. It is sponsored jointly by the
territorial Office of Urban Mission and the 614 Network - Canada. For more
information, contact the Office of Urban Mission at THQ: (404) 728-1300, ext.
476 or go to www.theurbanforum.com. Related story, page
Salvationist Service Corps: Tempress Boone
Tempress Boone did not plan to pursue urban
missions. At 16, she moved out of her parents' home and descended into a
downward spiral that ultimately led her back to God.
the way, Boone had some successes - getting job corps training, doing well on
her GED exam and winning a college scholarship. However, the more she succeeded
on her own, the less she recognized her need for God.
enrolled at West Virginia State University, Boone said she became more
concerned with boys, popularity and work than anything else, and eventually,
her earthly pursuits took over her relationship with God. Soon Boone would find
herself pretending to be pregnant by her then-boyfriend. After losing her
college scholarship, Boone said, "I humbled myself and asked my parents if
I could live with them again."
So she moved back home
and began attending corps activities. (Her parents command the corps in
Although her lifestyle changed
radically, Boone's heart did not change to fit her new pursuits. "I
had to be changed. I had to be broken," said Boone.
March 26, 2004, she surrendered her life to the Lord, saying, "I'll go
wherever You say to go and do whatever You say to do." While reading
Matthew 28:18-30, the Great Commission, Boone recognized God's calling to
the inner city and served this past summer on the SSC team at the 614 in
Charlotte, N.C. She is quick to add, "Ever since then, it's been a
journey. It's still a process, but I tell you, life is a lot better now
that I'm free."
Boone currently works with inner
city children at the Norfolk, Va., Corps.