By Gordon L. Heath
A few weeks ago, I attended an evening presentation by the Rev Dr Rosalyn Murphy, a vicar of St Thomas’ Church. Her ministry is located in what is coined an “urban priority area” in Blackpool, UK. Among her many responsibilities, “she is an advocate for government-Christian collaborative schemes designed to address economic, cultural and social challenges that impact dispossessed communities in England.”1
Her presentation (see picture) identified the specific challenges her church has faced, as well as the creative and successful ways in which parish ministry has adjusted to twenty-first century urban realities. It was a fascinating presentation by someone uniquely qualified to speak to church responses to urban issues. It left one pondering, yet excited, about what Hamilton’s urban core churches could do within their local contexts.
The event was graciously hosted and sponsored by the Hamilton staff (in particular, Milton Friesen) of Cardus, an organization that is a “think tank dedicated to the renewal of North American social architecture.”2 One of the areas of concern for Cardus is getting Christians to think about how to bless the city and to do good for the city.
Hamilton, however, has two bright lights when it comes to organizations concerned with church-related urban renewal. In a week or so, TrueCity3 will host its annual event that brings together a wide variety of Hamilton churches to celebrate what God has been doing in the city, and to challenge one another to think about new ways to bless those within the city.4 TrueCity is a homegrown network committed to doing good for the city, and leaders such as Dave Witt are doing just that.
Hamiltonians are fortunate to have both Cardus and TrueCity working among them. The McMaster Divinity College (MDC) Centre for Post-Christendom Studies thinks that MDC students would benefit from knowing more about these vital organizations, As a result, the Centre will host a pizza and pop lunch for MDC students to hear from both Milton Friesen and Dave Witt about the work of Cardus and TrueCity. The event is scheduled for 28 March 2017, 12:30-1:30pm, in Hurlburt Hall. All MDC students are invited to participate in this free lunch event.5
While this blog is quite Hamilton-centric, the larger picture is that churches should look beyond their four walls to see what organizations already exist to help with urban challenges. And if nothing is found, get creative and see what can get started.
1. Taken from a press release.
4. For a report on last year’s event, see https://www.mcmasterdivinity.ca/pcs/blog/reflections-true-city-conference
5. If you are not an MDC student, but would like to attend, please contact Gordon Heath at gheath [at] mcmaster.ca.
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of McMaster Divinity College or the Centre for Post-Christendom Studies.*