2011 Lexington DJO Training event

2011 Lexington DJO Training event
Getting ready to deploy for a work day with St. Timothy's, Barnes Mountain

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bibliography for Community Development

Alinsky, Saul D., Reveille for Radicals, New York: Vintage Books, 1989 edition.

Alinsky provides a compelling argument for grassroots democracy – community organizing- as foundational for a strong middle class. Key to Alinsky’s theory of change is that it does not happen until you enter into and expose conflict. While suspicious and even outright mistrustful of business, government and institutions throughout, Alinsky never-the-less believes the Church has a key role to play as a catalyst for bringing communities together for social political and economic action.

Block, Peter. Community: The Structure of Belonging. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler
Publishers, 2009.

Block seeks a future that expresses the shared vision of the many and varied
hopes of the people whom comprise our communities. It is a future of possibilities and relatedness. The very process of invitation and the nature of the questions asked are essential to the outcome.

Green, Gary P. and Haines, Anna. Asset Building and Community Development, Los
Angeles: Sage Publications, 2008

Along with its insightful questions, exercises and extensive bibliography of resources at the end of each chapter, Green and Haines provide a healthy introduction and discussion around community development. Most importantly they introduce and explore seven asset categories of influence on healthy community development – Physical, Human, Social, Financial, Environmental, Political, and Cultural.

Green, Mike. When People Care Enough to Act: ABCD in Action. Toronto: Inclusion
Press, 2009.

Once he has helped his readers recognize their capacity to act, Mike Green’s emphasis on community development is to get to the core issues people in our communities care about as the locust for action that leads to desired change.

Friedman, Edwin H. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. The
Edwin Friedman Trust, New York: Seabury Books, 2007.

As a posthumous rendering of Friedman’s last work in progress, Failure of Nerve is a critical rethinking of the very foundations of how leadership is practiced in today’s culture of quick fixes. In particular this work contributes to the leadership aspect of community development by valuing the importance of a leader’s ontological presence, which is best expressed through a healthy capacity for self-differentiation and acceptance of personal responsibility, rather than for their capacity to provide solutions or empathize to the point of indecisiveness. His critique of leadership demands hierarchical courage and vision in a time of hierarchical failure due to chronic and pervasive cultural anxiety – he is stepping into the realm of the counterintuitive, countercultural, where criticism is an indicator of success and living with crises is a way of life, rather than circumstances to be avoided.

Kretzmann, John F, and John E. Mc Knight. Building Communities from the Inside Out:
A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets. Skokie, IL: ACTA Publications, 1993.

Affectionately known as “The Green Book,” Kretzmann and McKnight (the founders of our domestic conversation around asset based community development) provide a comprehensive approach to community development that builds on the available capacity of local individuals, associations and organizations, institutions, and community assets. As organizations, churches can play a key relational role in the building of partnerships that can be mobilized for bringing about change in the communities where they are located.

Mc Knight, John and Peter Block. The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2010.

Perkins, John, ed. Restoring At-Risk Communities: Doing it Together, Doing it Right.
Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing, 1995. 

Perkins introduces Christian Community Development as relational ministry. The community development practitioner will learn from him the importance of relocation (move into the neighborhood where you are going to minister), reconciliation (teaching people to love God and love neighbor through our own actions across boundaries of cultural separation) and redistribution (participate in the local economy through the offering of our personal time, treasure and talents) as essentials for healthy, sustainable community re-development. Without choosing to leverage the distinctions between needs based development and asset based development, Perkins focuses instead on the importance of relationships for development and builds the basis for that understanding on a sound biblical foundation.  

Sider, Ronald J., John M. Perkins, Wayne L. Gordon and F. Albert Tizon. Linking Arms,
Linking Lives: How Urban-Suburban Partnerships Can Transform Communities.
Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2008

This book is written in response to an observed expansion of centers of poverty from urban communities to the suburbs. Along with that shift is a growing awareness of the struggles of a growing underclass and the relational importance of partnerships between faith communities to hone their listening skills as they work together to respond to those struggles. The authors speak with one voice while bringing their varied cultural contexts into that conversation, including their language of faith.

Snow, Luther, K. The Power of Asset Mapping: How Your Congregation Can Act on its
Gifts. Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 2004.

Snow brings the conversation of asset based community development directly into the congregational context. Much like appreciative inquiry, Snow focuses on helping congregations identify their assets (the “what,” “how,” and “why” to map) so they can begin to see the possibilities for ministry that lay before them as means for their own renewal.

Wilson, David Sloan. The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City.
One Block at a Time. New York: Little Brown and Company, 2011.

David Sloan Wilson seeks to apply his skills as an evolutionary scientist for the purpose of improving the human condition in Binghamton, NY with an eye towards further applying the knowledge gained from this learning environment for general world-wide improvement. His community-based research leverages Darwin’s tangled-bank approach to evolutionary progress and relationships. Rather than focus narrowly on a single aspect of community development, his work concentrates holistically on overall community health as an expression of scientifically managed cultural evolution.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reflections on Jubilee Ministry and faith formation in the Church

How do you see this work engaging or transforming church as a whole?
I would like to engage this question based on narrative about my observations being involved with Jubilee Ministry and diocesan network development efforts. I have served in this church as the founder of a new Jubilee Ministry, as a Diocesan Jubilee Officer who built a dynamic network and as the staff officer accountable for the development of this program as it responds to General Convention resolutions of nearly thirty years.

Jubilee Ministries exist because someone at the local community level in a diocese is compelled to respond in a concrete way to a real issue of human struggle as an expression of their Christian faith being put into action. That response no doubt grows until it resonates with other Episcopalians who share that deep concern and its corresponding connection to their faith understanding. From that common perspective congregational ministry often plants its roots and grows. Organization, recruitment, budgets and fund raising follow. 

Interestingly, the needs based world of non-profits suggests that this mode of planning is backward. They suggest that planning begin with a clear vision and mission based upon careful research of needs, demographics, and other resources followed by a study of the best practices applied by others doing similar work among similar populations.  But that really isn’t my experience of how the Holy Spirit works when it comes down to inspiring people into action. Their awareness of need and their sense of capacity to respond usually cumulate until a moment of clear recognition that they have something to contribute in response to that need.  Most people respond to need out of their deep emotional identification with the suffering of those they want to help, for whatever the reason. In other words, most responses to human suffering are not based on logic and intellect,  but rather they are based on relational association and an overwhelming desire to respond.

Why this back ground?  When I began the work of engaging the northwest Denver community in a process that resulted in the establishment of the
32nd Avenue
Jubilee Center I didn’t begin with any awareness that there was an actual program named Jubilee Ministry in the Episcopal Church. I began out of deep association with the struggle of people in my local community. It was only out of that engagement that I later learned about Jubilee Ministry as a program of this church. I applied for status as a Jubilee Ministry seeking the recognition and affirmation of the wider church validation of this ministry. I didn’t seek funds, though I certainly needed them. I didn’t seek networking partnerships though that would have been a source of real assistance I could have used. I had a lot of practical needs that I could have used help with had I known where to turn for that help, but I didn’t turn to Jubilee Ministry because I didn’t know that it had any thing to offer beyond the prize of affirmation by the larger church.

Later when working to develop a network of Jubilee Ministries I invited other clergy to consider ministries they were familiar that might also have been examples of Jubilee Ministry worthy of recognition. Interestingly, many were thinking that I was asking them to take on something new. And that was never the case. I merely wanted to ask them to open their eyes and to look around and to point to existing ministry that was happening that we could affirm and invite others to emulate. The common perception is that Jubilee Ministry is asking congregations and dioceses to do something new. The reality is that Jubilee Ministry is the recognition of something that is already being done. As part of a network they are given the opportunity to share about their work with others who may be contemplating similar paths for ministry. At the same time each diocese has a vision for ministry that captures the spirit of the congregations and ministries of that diocese.  Consequently the work of building a diocesan Jubilee Ministry network is work that needs to be accomplished in concert with the diocesan bishop and leadership.

In all cases Jubilee Ministry is locally driven. It responds to the reality of human suffering within the context and dynamics of congregations and their diocese. Successful work by the Church Center can only be realized when its beginning and ending are founded upon the interests of local Jubilee Ministries and the diocese in which they’re located. All resourcing, organizational development, funding initiatives must first and foremost begin with those needs in mind. 

When the work of this office supports and affirms ministry that is happening on the local level engagement and transformation can continue to happen. We must be focused on listening and learning about the local needs of those doing ministry, much as local ministries begin by listening and learning about the particular needs of the people they are called to serve. Rather than provide program to be adopted, we better serve the local community when we networking is used as a means of communicating to others what we are hearing and learning all along the way. It would have been a blessing to me to have had someone seeking me out to offer me resources aimed at assuring my success, rather than to be left to learn alone without the benefit of wisdom gained by the many people who had labored through similar over the years before me.

The goals and activities listed above ultimately focus of the building of networks. They seek to bring people together so that they have a way to share what they are learning with others who are on a similar path. The goals seek to provide information and make communication accessible. They seek to break down structures that isolate ministry and the people who minister. These changes open the door for engagement and transformation as people discover how the Holy Spirit is at work around them and in the lives of others; as they discover how the Holy Spirit may be moving in their own lives and opening doors before them.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

2011-2012 Jubilee Grant announcement

Dear Jubilee Ministry friends and collaegues.

I am pleased to announce the release of grant invitation for the remainder of this year and to get next year started. Please follow this link to complete your applications. Be sure to share them with anyone who you know might have interest, so that they can apply as well. 


Grace and peace,


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Farmers Markets and Local Food Marketing grants through USDA

Sometimes our efforts towards sustainability require us to take a risk. Here is one such opportunity through the USDA targeting agricultural cooperatives, producer networks, producer associations, local governments, nonprofit corporations, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers’ market authorities and Tribal governments. Could this be an expression of vision in your local community?


Monday, June 6, 2011

Honoring a friend

A good friend lost a valiant fight against the affects of cancer this past Friday. His name is JOhn Miers. And no I didn't misspell it just now, that was how JOhn liked to sign his letters to friends. The cancer may have claimed his life, but his spirit will be unquenchable. He served as Diocesan Jubilee Officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Though his recent aspiration to pursue the vocational deaconate was not collaborated by diocesan discernment members, there is little doubt that JOhn's was anything but a life of servant leadership. Earlier I excerpted in an announcement to his fellow DJOs( as we call them) to share with them some tidbits of his reflections, attitudes and learnings in life. Today I will elaborate those with more for preservation sake alone, if nothing else.

In his words:
As I reflect upon my spiritual life, I see twists and turns, spirals and possibly a labyrinth, all heading me toward a deeper understanding of not just what God wants me to do in my life, but also the discovery of the gifts and tools that He is furnishing me to perform these tasks. He is also the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, something I can keep focused on.
My life seemed to take a turn as I had to come to terms with the epilepsy that had plagued me since the age of 12.  It was harder and harder to live with it as the seizures became more frequent.  I had been seeing doctors at NIH for my uncontrolled seizures, and I had become increasingly frustrated.  When I became an inpatient in the hospital at NIH in 1981, I realized that I really wasn’t alone with my disability.  While I was there in the Clinical Center, I spoke with the other patients about how they were feeling.  I invited them to talk to each other and to me.  Since there was a fairly rapid rotation of these patients, it was not long until I was one of the “senior patients” on the ward.  What began as “come over to talk this afternoon” had really become a support group for these other patients; it lasted long after I left! 01-07-10

I wrote last year that Jubilee Ministry was the bridge between loving God and Loving neighbor. Well JOhn was the kind of bridge that gave flesh to the ministry of Jubilee. His was a life that understood its beginning and ending rested in God, that the time in between was his letter to God about a life worth living as he reached out to make all people his neighbor. Certainly there must be rejoicing in heaven today as John is welcomed with those loving words, "Well done my faithful servant."  Well done indeed JOhn. Thank you for your witness among us.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Portrait on Magnanimity in Aristotle's Ethics 1124b14

I came across this quote in A Theology of Reading, by Alan Jacobs (Boulder: Westview Press, 2001).

Importantly for me I am often pressed to distinguish between charity and justice. This distinction is patently clear when read through the eyes of Aristotle's Magnanimous Man as excerpted from Jacobs. Though I am grossly oversimplifing this, Jacobs intent in writing this book was to provide a careful exploration of the varied contexts that inform our habits of reading built around our understanding of the nature of love.

In the context of our attitude towards giving many offerings are made, however benevolent they may seem, out of a posture of power and privilege rather than one of gratitude and humility. The former case for giving reforcing status distinctions between the giver and the receiver, while the later reinforcing solidarity between two people of shared dignity and worth. When we look carefully at the charitable ministries offered by our congregations, do we include those we serve in the pool of volunteers and contributors or do we limit the volunteer pool to the priviliged so that they can leave having satiated their conscious through good works, while preserving a distance of separation from those they would consider as different? Have we purposed through our charitable acts to strengthen our bonds of humnanity or to strengthen our status of distinction?

I leave it to you to answer the basis for your motivation of giving.

Jacobs quotes:
The Magnanimous man...is disposed to confer benefits, but is ashamed to accept them, because the one is the act of a superior and the other that of an inferior. When he repays a service he does so with interest, because in this way the original benefactor will become his debtor and beneficiary. People of this kind are thought to remember the benefits they have conferred, but not those that they have received (because the benficiary is inferior to the benefactor, and the magnaimous man wants to be superior), and to enjoy being reminded of the former, but not of ther latter.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Diocesan Jubilee Officer training event

Jubilee Ministry was established in 1982 by General Convention resolution A080. The mandate for Jubilee Ministry was to be a joint discipleship in Christ with poor and oppressed people wherever they are located, to meet basic human need and to build a just society.

In 1985 the General Convention adopted resolution A106 which resolved “that in each diocese there be appointed a Jubilee officer who will become informed on all facets of the Jubilee Ministry, serve as a liaison to the Jubilee Ministry Commission, and be available as a resource to their bishops and congregations and otherwise bring support to further Jubilee Ministries in each diocese of the Church.”

To this end, the Office of Social and Economic Justice is sponsoring a Diocesan Jubilee Officer training from July 06-09, 2011 at Cathedral Domain in the Diocese of Lexington.
To register and for more information go to http://events.signup4.com/djolexington.