Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Churches ARE Making a Difference...

What kind of churches make difference in low income communities? All kinds. My column in Sunday's Dallas Morning News  (this does require a DMN subscription to access online) was about the impact our church made in the redevelopment of our neighborhood. But a very interesting article written by Michael Waters, pastor of the newly organized Joy Tabernacle A.M.E Church shows how this two year-old congregation is also working for change in South Dallas.  

We need more churches with a commitment to transformational change!

"In their now classic twenty-year old recording, "Case of the P.T.A.," the lead single from their debut albumA Future Without A Past, The Leaders of the New School, a Long Island, New York hip hop collective featuring Charlie Brown, Dinco D, and future breakout solo star Busta Rhymes, inadvertently made a case for the integration of a paradigm of community involvement to help save America's troubled public education system. With the lyric "A room full of teachers, parents, and preachers, a principal and one kid dressed in sneakers," the Leaders of the New School gave articulation and vision to an increasingly absent form of community- based support for today's public schools."
"As the founding pastor of a newly-organized church, the two-year old Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Church in Dallas, Texas, I have been inspired by our growing memberships' commitment to service. Our church has been guided by an ever-increasing vision to seek partnerships that aid in urban recovery and to serve as an omnibus ministry mapping out the needs of the rapidly changing urban landscape and developing specific ministries to meet those needs in a holistic way. Recognizing the troubled state of public education within our own community, we immediately sought opportunities to make a positive impact upon our educational system and to empower urban youth, especially in the impoverished South Dallas community. Through our participation in the Dallas Independent School District's Principal for A Day Program, (unfortunately as the only church participating in the program in October 2010) we adopted Pearl C. Anderson Middle School in South Dallas. The program enabled us to spend the day touring the school and meeting with administrators, faculty, staff, parents, and students regarding the needs of the campus. What we soon discovered was a school being challenged to make brick without straw -- a tremendously dedicated cadre of administrators, faculty, and staff persons attempting to do much with little, and in the face of then additional and forthcoming cuts to staff and budgeting."
"We also discovered that the challenges to public education extend well beyond the classroom and into the community. These students' daily pilgrimages to Pearl C. Anderson led them past abandoned and boarded houses, past overgrown fields strewn with litter and broken bottles, past zombie-like drug addicts and drug dealers, past seedy motels serving as beds of prostitution, and past multiple liquor stores standing only a few hundred feet from the school's entrance, then, finally, through a metal detector and past armed security on their way to the classroom. How anyone could aspire to learn amid such dismal surroundings appeared itself to be an act of God!"

See what this dynamic congregation did to make a difference in it's community here...

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