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South charges forward to revive cities for Jesus

By Brooke Turbyfill

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.

Major John 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.

Urban 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 same mission."

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 new initiatives.

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.

All 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

By Brooke Turbyfill

Southern Spirit staff

Lt. Colonel 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 community welfare.

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.

Previously the 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.

The second 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 development.

"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 that role.

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 wanted."

 

 

 

 Photos, top to bottom:

Top: This is a proposed model of what the completed Solomon G. Brown Corps Community Center will look like.

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.

Bottom: 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 back-to-school program.

 

 

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 S4

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.

Along 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.

While 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 Greenville, Miss.)

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.

On 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.

 

 






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