I ordered decaf and a slice of coconut cream pie at the Golden Nugget on Irving Park Road just west of the Kennedy Expressway.

A sip and then a bite of indulgence as I visited with Jason and Kelly Pope and Andrew and Brenda Marin.

Jason and Kelly were in town from Atlanta leading a group of leaders and young people presenting their hip hop Christmas show at various venues in Chicago.  Earlier in the day they had been at LaSalle Street Church, a Catholic residential program, and briefing time with kettle workers at Chicago Temple (thank you Envoy Tyrone Staggers for assisting them this week).  Their few days here were busy and a success, and Jason was happy to be in a northern winter; Jason likes snow.  The Popes serve with the Salvation Army in Atlanta, Kelly in the Southern Territory’s Youth Department and Jason at DHQ in Atlanta as well as the Corps Sergeant Major at Atlanta’s Kroc Center.  I don’t think they would mind mentioning that they expect their first baby in late March.

Andrew and Brenda Marin are good friends with the Popes.  Jason has worked in the Southern Territory with Andrew who is founder of the Marin Foundation based in Chicago.  Andrew’s work is in that challenging place between the Church and the GLBT community; check out the Marin Foundation website.

Jason and I talked about current work in our respective territories, especially the work of identifying, recruiting, developing, and deploying people in urban mission.  Jason is involved with creation of an urban mission internship program backed by territorial resources.  He was glad to hear of the Central Territory’s commitment in a similar initiative as we are about to inaugurate the Urban Ministry Internship Program in Flint, St Louis, and Kansas City.

We also talked about the challenge and heartbreak of working with young people living in the city.  The Popes have recently been helping teens faced with very difficult situations.  Issues tend to be well defined and simple, if we are living in places of comfort and wholeness.  Inner cities and many urban settings abound with moral and ethical ambiguity.  Urban mission involves complexities of diversity, density, and stark despair with which some places in America have but a passing acquaintance.

Jason enjoyed the Chicago snow.  May you enjoy a Merry Christmas!