Archives for posts with tag: innovation

Yesterday morning several Salvation Army leaders gathered in the first floor front room of 2753 Arsenal.  For Gail and me, that’s a two minute walk from our home.  For others it meant a few hours of driving from Peoria, Chicago, Kansas City.

Urbana Temple Houses

This is vintage (2009).  The first promo material put together by Steve Diaz and John Aho.  Temple Houses have grown and developed but it all started with this.

We came together to share about the experience of life together in the missional community we call Temple Houses.  TH is one part of the Urban Mission Center based in St Louis.  The Center prepares missional leaders for the Urban Millennium.  This takes place in opportunities for formation here in our St Louis Benton Park West neighborhood.  Gail and Sara are also part of a team developing the distance-learning component for Olivet Nazarene University‘s urban ministry program.

Yesterday inaugurated the Center’s first innovators forum.  We expected five or six individuals.  17 came together for six hours of presentation and discussion.

With coffee and John’s Donuts Sara started with a virtual tour of Benton Park West neighborhood. She used the six postures for missional living, a model Jon Huckins has taught us and found in his book Thin Places.  Then, questions about the nuts and bolts of creating and sustaining our particular Temple House community.  Sara did a fine job of leading us through the day, and feeding us; she makes a great chili.

Gail and I walked home and talked.  What next?  We agreed that it will be seen in Peoria, Chicago, Kansas City and other cities as God’s people find innovative ways to join His mission in this amazing Urban Millennium.

So, what is the Urban Millennium?


Sometimes new things can happen in places only when the old things have passed away.

Katherine Yung writes in the Detroit Free Press of Charter One Bank’s initiative to offer support to Detroit’s growing urban farming movement.  $100,000 will be awarded to farmers and vendors through Charter One’s Growing Communities program to “expand local food sources in Detroit”.  In Motown.

Connections between Detroit and automobiles yet exist.  But the American auto is no longer tied to the Motor City’s well-being.  American cars are now made in places like Indiana and Europe.  Detroit auto factories are now empty, abandoned, crumbling.  Detroit’s relationship with Ford, General Motors and Chrysler today is like that of an ex who receives some alimony, remembers some good years.

An almost half century urban nightmare began as American industry and business left Detroit.  Another beginning is now taking place.  Not only in Detroit but in other American cities where innovators and entrepreneurs are placing gardens.

I remember seeing other gardens in the backyards of our Detroit Temple Corps neighbors.  One Sunday evening the corps took a walk down our streets, visiting and praying with households.  Behind his house one old man was growing a luxuriant vegetable garden.  Cabbages, string beans, greens, tomatoes.  We admired.  He straightened up a bit more.   We asked if we could pray for his garden.  All of us bowed our heads.

A garden in the city.  We read in Revelation that in the world to come there will be a garden in the city.  Those who now make gardens in Detroit and Philadelphia and in any of America’s abandoned urban places may be giving us a glimpse on earth as it is in heaven.

People tell us that if life gives you a lemon, make lemonade from it.

To some, okay, maybe a lot of people, Detroit is a lemon.  Crime.  Poverty.  A remarkable post-urban landscape that makes us shudder.

But underneath the darker currents of Detroit runs great opportunity for creativity, innovation and hope.  People who are attracted to this kind of challenge come here or in the case of Margarita Barry decide to stay.

26 year old Barry created I Am Young Detroit as a website to highlight the initiatives of other young Detroiters.  Small neighborhood businesses.  Community development.  Arts.  Here’s yesterday’s Christian Science Monitor interview with Margarita.

Margarita Barry and others like her have discovered a mission.  It involves something beyond their own personal good.  It is characterized by selflessness.  It is very close to God’s mission to the world he so loved.  In fact I suspect some of those that Barry features at I Am Young Detroit are agents of God’s mission to Detroit.

It’s exciting to see in the midst of urban dismay that hope has made an appearance. 

A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.  (Isaiah 11:1)             

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