From its beginnings, Christianity has grown largely in urban contexts. Augustine’s image of the “city of God” projects the enduring notion that divine grace permeates the common good, enlivening the religious, commercial and political life of cities across the world. Now we are living at a time when fragile communities of faith are located in urban environments that are themselves equally fragile and beleaguered. What are the hopes and dreams of God for cities and city churches alike? How does the kingdom of God continue to break through the harsher realities of urban life? What lost treasures of the gospel can be discovered and re-claimed as we seek to bear witness to the kingdom of God in our cities? Through this course we will lay claim to the joy of urban ministry, explore its opportunities and challenges, and imagine ways and practices in which city churches can thrive within the urban contexts where they have been planted.
Through this course students will develop a theology for urban ministry, identify resources to enable the enlivening of urban churches and have a keen awareness of the unique opportunities and challenges that face urban congregations today. We will endeavor to devote ourselves to a close reading of texts about urban ministry, and will enter into conversations with guest presenters in order to learn about the craft of urban ministry as it practiced in the City of Hartford. The list of guest presenters will be made available during the first meeting of the course.
Written and Oral Assignments:
Class presentations: Each student will be asked to make two ten minute presentations, one focusing on a reflection of a biblical text relating to faith in the city, and the second on a question about urban ministry that has arisen through required readings and conversations with guest presenters. All students will be expected to contribute materials to our session on “Faith, Music, Images, Art and Poetry in the City.”
Vision paper: “Without a vision the people perish”: Each student is expected to write a 5-7 page paper that identifies and describes the essential dimensions of a healthy and vibrant urban congregation.
Research paper: Each student will write a ten page paper that identifies a major challenge confronting urban churches today along with an outline of a strategy for addressing that challenge. The resources for this paper should consist of material drawn from the required readings as well as conversations with guest presenters.
Mark R. Gornik To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), 2002.
Robert Lupton Renewing the City: Reflections on Community Development and Urban Renewal (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press), 2005.
Gregory F. Augustine Pierce Activism That Makes Sense: Congregations and Community Organization (Chicago, Illinois: ACTA Publications), 1984
Ronald E. Peters Urban Ministry: An Introduction (Nashville: Abingdon Press), 2007.
Bryan Stone and Claire Wolfteich Sabbath in the City: Sustaining Urban Pastoral Excellence (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press), 2008.
Tony Campolo Revolution and Renewal: How Churches are Saving our City (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press), 2000.
Robert D. Carle and Louis A. Decaro Jr. eds. Signs of Hope in the City: Ministries of Community Renewal (Valley Forge: Judson Press), 1999.
Nile Harper Urban Churches, Vital Signs: Beyond Charity Toward Justice (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), 1999.
Robert Lupton Theirs is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America (San Francisco: Harper), 1989.
Wayne Meeks The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press), 1983.
Rodney Stark The Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome (San Francisco: Harper), 2006.
September 9: Introduction: Urban Ministry: “bursting with possibilities and a haven for burnout”Reading assignment:
Stone and Wolfteich: Introduction and Chapter 1
Peters: Part 1, Chapter 1
Gornik: Introduction and Chapter 1
September 16: Biblical images of faith in the city: New Babylon? New Jerusalem? Reading assignment:
Peters: Part 2, Chapters 4-7
September 23: The Nehemiah Project Reading assignment:
Lupton: Part I, Chapters 1-13
Gornik: Chapter 4
September 30: Finding God in the city: found by God in the city Reading assignment:
Stone and Wolfteich: Chapter 5 and Conclusion
Gornik: Chapter 2
October 7: Urban ministry: core values and forced options Reading assignment:
Pierce: Chapters 1 and 3
Peters: Part 1, Chapters 2-3October 14: Student presentations
Reading assignment: TBD
October 21: The urban church as community developer Reading assignment:
Lupton: Part 2: Chapters 14-24 and Epilogue
Pierce: Chapter 4-6
October 28: Faith, Music, Images, Poetry in the City Student presentations
Reading assignment: TBD
November 4: Soul justice: Sabbath in the city Reading assignment:
Stone and Wolfteich: Chapters 2-4
Pierce: Chapter 2
Gornik: Chapters 3 and 5
November 11: Caring for sacred places in the city Reading assignment:
Gornik: Chapter 5
Peters: Part 3, Chapters 8-11
VISION PAPER DUE
November 18: An urban pilgrimage Reading assignment: TBD
November 25: No classDecember 2: Student presentations
December 9: The urban church: future prospects Reading assignment:
Pierce: Chapter 7 and Conclusion
Gornik: Chapter 6 and “Not in Vain”
December 16: FINAL PAPER DUE