The African-American Church and Social Justice
Week Four Takeaways
When forging partnerships with outside entities: 1) Be sure that the organization’s and/or individual’s agenda is consistent with that of the church. 2) It is vital to be sure that the organization and/or individual is credible. Research their profile and gain knowledge of their track record. 3) Clearly defining roles, delineating responsibilities, and specifying the procedures for accountability within the partnership is crucial. This can be done via a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
Ministries of justice are set up and organized from outside the walls of the church but still do the work of the church based on the organization’s sense of a call to the ministry of justice. Examples: 1) Romal Tune, Clergy Strategic Alliances and Faith Leaders for Change. 2) Iva E. Caruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference.
Community development can be defined as a process of taking a community assessment, leveraging community assets, connecting with outside resources to fill “structural holes,” and advocacy that leads to permanent change.
The five major components in the community development process are 1) Physical Capital 2) Intellectual and Human Capital 3) Social Capital 4) Financial Capital and 5) Political Capital.
Nehemiah the Community Organizer: -When he heard about the plight of the Jewish remnant that remained behind in Jerusalem and the surrounding region, he wanted to help (Nehemiah 1). -He wanted to rebuild the ruins of his people – and in a time and place where safety was found within the walls of a city, the priority task became rebuilding the walls of the Holy City, Jerusalem. -Nehemiah began with tapping into his political capital. The text says he asked the king for permission to rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-5).
The work of social justice is, in a real way, a ministry of rebuilding – of repairing the cracked and tumbled-down structures of society that have created vulnerability for its citizens.
Inspecting the Wall (Community Asset Map)
-The first thing Nehemiah did upon his return to Jerusalem was to inspect the walls of the city to determine their condition and develop an action plan (Nehemiah 2:11-15).
-For Nehemiah the inspection of the walls was the first step toward rebuilding the temple, which was the symbol of God’s presence with the Jewish people.
-In biblical times, walls served as protection for a city, and the quality of the walls indicated the health of the community.
-Comparably, the walls of a modern community are the infrastructures that nurture quality of life there.
-One must take time to think, study, and assess where the community is and then develop an action plan.
-When inspecting or assessing a community, it is important to focus on what it has more than on what it does not have.
-Communities might have more social, intellectual, physical and financial capital than seems readily apparent.
-Asset mapping is the process of determining what assets the community possesses. The process uncovers the strengths and weaknesses of a community’s walls (social, intellectual, physical, financial, and political capital).
-Assessment can begin with brainstorming what is in the community. This can be done by internet search or by personal inspection like Nehemiah.
-The community of faith is placed in the center of the map to represent a starting point. Assess internal then external.