Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dallas' Justice Revival - Almost Here!

Below is the Dallas Morning News' editorial announcing our city's upcoming Justice Revival. The Revival itself will be held November 10-12, at Market Hall. The impact will last far beyond those three nights!We do believe 'our city will change'.

Great editorial and all of us who are working on it appreciate it!

Just one word of correction: the churches aren't committing to 'build' 700 units of housing for the poor - we are committing to become advocates for Dallas' official goal of 700 units of permanent supportive housing. Permanent supportive housing is an opportunity to get the homeless off the street, providing not only shelter, but re-connection to the community, but also support in terms of access to the health care, education and quality of life components that will lead them to the type of interdependent lives the rest of us enjoy. We don't want these formerly homeless citizens sequestered in one area of the city. We believe that every community, every sector of the city should make room for them. We're asking churches to educate, advocate and become a resource and community for these citizens all over Dallas.

Of course any church who chooses to build permanent supportive housing is more than welcome to do so!

Here, too, is a glimpse at the first night of the Justice Revival held in Columbus, Ohio last year.

On Tuesday, the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners Fellowship in Washington and Dallas religious leaders announced plans for a November "revival." This isn't an altar call affair, the kind with a tent in a park. Rather, the effort will be sustained over time by people of faith who want to deal with poverty in Dallas without partisan divides sidetracking them.

What a concept: Focus on a common problem without getting bogged down in left/right debates.

Wallis has a track record of working across party and denominational lines. He previously launched a national "common ground" campaign among religious groups. And the liberal evangelical minister has authored books that have challenged left and right, including God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It.

His latest effort is Justice Revival, the movement that he and others have spawned to encourage churchgoers to revitalize their communities. The concept is similar to a parish taking responsibility for the surrounding neighborhood.

After a year of identifying challenges in Dallas with Christians from about 1,000 evangelical, Catholic, Pentecostal and Protestant churches, Wallis and the movement's local leaders are embarking on a campaign to improve Dallas schools and increase the supply of affordable housing. They aim to create at least 25 church-school partnerships and build 700 housing units for the homeless.

We like that this arrangement isn't hierarchical – and it intentionally stays away from being seen as charity, which adopt-a-school efforts can be. The partnership implies the churches and the schools are in this thing together.

If Justice Revival works in Dallas as it did in Columbus, Ohio, Wallis envisions such efforts helping recast our national dialogue about many different issues. He believes that houses of faith can be sanctuaries where people of all stripes, including those who have no interest in religion, can gather publicly to discuss everything from health care to immigration reform to school policies.

The one rule is no one can trash someone else.

As we said, it's a novel concept. And we can't wait to see it break out in Dallas and across the country.

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