Newsletter – November, 1999

**Companion Resources Newsletter**

edited by Paul D. Leichty

Volume 1, No. 11 November 1999

Greetings, community builders! As we approach Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for persons like you who work to build community in your homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, and cities around the world. This month I want to tell you about a movement of community-builders among Christians in the United States that is now spreading to other parts of the world. But first, a message to address some of your holiday shopping needs.

Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) is as much a movement as an organization in the American Christian community. Earlier this month CCDA celebrated its 10th anniversary at its annuaul conference, returning to the place of its birth in Chicago. I had the privilege of attending this conference and it was a wonderful experience.

CCDA was founded through the vision of many persons; however, two have particularly stood out as founding leaders.

* John Perkins was a veteran African-American pastor who had been working at issues of racial reconciliation and indigenous leadership development in Mississippi and California when CCDA started.

* Wayne Gordon was a white teacher and coach who started living and working in one of the most economically depressed African-American neighborhoods of Chicago in the late 1970’s. Out of his work grew a community church and a wonderful array of community projects.

Both men persevered through intense conflict and struggle to lead neighborhood churches to put their assets into building community. They soon came to articulate conditions under which persons with power could effectively help to rebuild economically depressed communities. More about that in a moment.

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Christian Community Development Association has a developing and informative web site at www.ccda.org. I encourage you to visit it. Included there are names of member organizations and Urban Perspectives newsletter by long-time urban worker, Bob Lupton.

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John Perkins has most clearly articulated the vision of community development from a Christian perspective. He says that in order for persons with power and resources to effectively work in poor communities, there must be a partnership effort as equals. He talks about the basic 3 R’s of Christian Community Development:

1. Relocation : A person must live in the community and be affected by the same issues that the rest of the community is affected by in order to have the privilege of speaking to those issues. “Solutions” imposed from the outside will not work.

2. Reconciliation : Personal relasionships are the most important aspect of building community. Where there is a history of racism, as there is in America, that issue must be addressed before black persons and and white persons can work together as equals.

3. Redistribution : Communities are poor because those in power have caused resources to flow out of that community. There must be a conscious intent for people, time, talents, energy, and money to flow back into the community.

There is no waiting for a handout in these community development activities. People in the community are the ones to gather their assets and begin to make a difference with what God has given them. One of the most important aspects is leadership development. This has led many CCDA organizations to stress working with children and youth in order to nurture new leaders.

One of the most interesting aspects of the CCDA conference is the sense of community created in the conference itself. Workshops and seminars do not consist of the experts telling others what to do, but simply association members sharing their experiences of what has worked in their communities. There is plenty of encouragement for others to take the basic principles and contextualize them in their own settings.

As we are on the threshold of a new millennium, faith-based organizations are being given incentives by the U.S. government to take more initiative in their communities. For those Christians who take a holistic approach that includes community building as an activity of God, this represents a historic opportunity. The movement is also spreading to other countries as well.

I’m thankful to the pioneers of CCDA and hope that many more churches, ministries, and other faith-based organizations will see their mission including community building. Blessings to all of you in this season!

Paul D. Leichty

Fort Wayne, Indiana

PDLeichty@cresources.org

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