By Dale W. Cross, FCSUM Chaplain Anyone who has ventured into urban America has discovered that huge segments of our cities are dying or are already dead. These once vibrant urban neighborhoods haven’t become habitations of death because the city intended this to happen. No, the social, spiritual and economic diseases which created this deplorable condition are the unintended consequences of actions in which many of us participated.
Most of us have become enamored with the new elaborate shopping malls and the spacious and often extravagant school and church campuses of suburbia. We have dreamed of the shiny, new and expansive homes and the banks, developers and realtors have been happy to fulfill our dreams. We have bought into the idea that newer and bigger is always better. This transaction has come at the expense of the stability, contin uity and sustainability of our lives, families and our historic urban neighborhoods.
The pursuit of maximizing profits has led banks, builders as well as leaders of religion and education to invest heavily in our sprawling suburbs while they have dis-invested in the sustaining and renewal of our inner city communities. This investment-dis-investment dance has been accompanied by the short sighted abandonment of our neighbors and the devaluation of our once treasured homes and streets.
It is a sad reality that many religious leaders have embraced the false and superficial values of this culture and rejected the clear Biblical values of loving our neighbors and respecting the sacredness of the places where God first called us to live and to serve.
The factors which impact these decisions and the consequences they bring are exceedingly complex and multidimensional. These are considerations which few of us have ever heard about in a sermon or church Bible study. One thing is quite clear, there is no evidence that God has predetermined that some communities must die in order for others to thrive. In view of the life and death struggles that plague many of our urban neighborhoods, this is something which should be preached about and is a matter which demands the prayers and attention of those who are Jesus’ followers.
FCS Community Chaplaincy is committed to the principle of respecting all of God’s creation and the cultivation of a neighboring spirit which supports deep and lasting relationships and works to create stable, sustainable and healthy communities.
Our Community Chaplains work with local church and community leaders to challenge the syndromes of death as they seek to invade and destroy human community. The good news of the Christian faith is that God is working with us and through us in power that is fully able to redeem and transform lives, families and communities. This “Christ in us” power seeks to transform how we relate to change, diversity and economic problems. This Spirit is seeking to release us from the false values of our culture and free us to be Kingdom people who make the joyful difference in our neighborhoods. The Body of Christ dynamically engaged with its neighborhood can indeed create safe places in our city where people flourish and the Shalom of God is present.