Helping communities in need embodies the Spirt of Christ. Setting the Blaze is a Faith Leaders movement to help build better relationships between churches and the community around them. We envision churches as vibrant community hubs, lighthouses for the community.
The church clearly contains the history of the neighborhood but as people move out and new people move in, some of those connections and relationships with the community members get lost. Through this movement, throughout the city of Richmond, the lighthouse of Virginia, we want to help rebuild those loss connections and trusted relationships.
WHY HIGHLAND PARK?
Because we’ve already got the spark in HP, but now we need the churches to Set the Blaze. This came to me during prayer at First Baptist Church on National Day of Prayer. Our Highland Park Quality of Life activities have gotten the spark with gentrification happening and large organizations putting money into the area, but we can’t Set the Blaze without the faith community.
Although we are making strides in Highland Park, it is still a community in need. In zip code 23222, incorporating Highland Park, Brookland Park, Washington Park, Highland Terrace, and
Green Park, nearly one out of every two youth (45%) is living below Richmond’s poverty threshold, according to the American Community Survey (2016) while just 5 miles away in zip code 23226 fewer than 9 of every 100 youth live in impoverished households. Median earnings in Highland Park are $33,703 per household, while in zip code 23226 they are more than double that at $81,406 (ACS 2016). Owner occupied homes make up 41% of housing stock in 23222; in 23226 72% of homes are owned. A child raised in 23222 is more likely to be raised in poverty, to live in a household where one or more adults is unemployed, and to attend a school where indicators show many students are lagging behind on literacy, attendance, and graduation.
WHAT WE’RE PROPOSING?
We’re not asking you to spend more money, we’re asking for something much more valuable, your time. With churches our politics are different but we serve the same God. Can you imagine what we can do together to help the Highland Park community and others to follow? I know that you’re already doing a lot, but if you have people in your congregation that are still itching to go out and show the love of Christ in real and tangible ways, please allow them to represent your church in this initiative.
We have already developing teams of community members in the program we call the Highland Park Quality of Life Initiative. I propose that churches in Highland Park along with churches outside of Highland Park that want to help impoverished communities, alignment with the Highland Park Quality of Life Initiative to collaboratively on projects and issues in the community. Please see the teams attached paying special attention to Team 5 Empowering Community Through Christ
WHY SHOULD YOU GET INVOLVED?
I can only imagine… I can only imagine what it could be like if churches united to create unity in a community. Christ says in John 17:22-23: “[I pray] that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity.” But we are too busy with our own activities to actually come together in unity to help communities in a lasting way. We can get together to pray for the communities but it’s rare that we actually work in unity to help make those prayers come true. Jesus is not going to come here to do it for us, He’s given us the command and He’ll give us the strength to do it, but we have to act. Genesis 4:9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" Cain's words have come to symbolize people's unwillingness to accept responsibility for the welfare of their fellows — their “brothers” in the extended sense of the term.
Yes, the great commission is for us to go forth and make disciples of all the nations. That does not exclude the nation in our own backyard. Statistics show that churches spend about 15% on outreaches but only 3% of that goes towards local ministries. So, we’re not taking care of the needy in our own backyards.
We’re not asking you to spend more money, we’re asking for something much more valuable, more time. We don’t just need churches that sit in this area where the crime is high and the income is low, we also need churches such as yours that sit in communities where the crime is low and the income is high.
Please consider joining us in this faithful mission. Please contact me to schedule a meeting to speak more about this.