Saturday, February 21, 2009

The New Urbanist Church

I don't know about this one.

This article covers how some urban churches are embracing new urbanism in order to bring more worshippers from the changing community. The article quotes:

"In meeting the challenges of revitalized urban neighborhoods across the country, urban churches are rethinking the ways they connect with their adjacent communities, combining an eclectic mix of edgy art and ancient Christian traditions."

The article goes on to state:

"To connect with the new urbanites, churches in their midst reflect a potent blend of artistic integrity, authentic community and groundedness—a sense of place that might surprise suburban dwellers—while also navigating the tricky terrain of increased diversity and toleration. "
The creative class moves around a lot, and so they’re attracted by the idea of being rooted...

Click here for the entire article. Overall this was a very interesting article about how some urban churches are now reaching out to the creative class and crossing all types of geographic, cultural and class lines. Historically the urban church has had a sometimes peculiar relationship with their communities. They have either been or continue to be the pillars of their community or the pillar of a community that no longer lives there. The latter can be witnessed by many catholic and predominantly black churches whose congregations have left the physical church's community decades ago. It is not uncommon for these particular churches to have conflict with the existing neighborhood who feels the church may not be advocating their interests, or may feel the large numbers of visiting parishioners are a nuisance.

With that being said, can the new urbanist church now reach out to members of their community who are now returning back to the city? Maybe, maybe not. I have always been somewhat critical of the new urbanist movement for the lacking diversity and often triggering gentrification. Can the new urbanist church really pull across socio-economic lines or will it just the upper echelons of the creative class and gentrifiers?

What are your thoughts?


Kirk Mantay said...

Church is tough because - unless there are no strict parishoners of that sect - a single church cannot be all things to all people (there are literally 34 baptist churches in my wife's small home town for example).

The Unitarian Universalist church, arguably - theologically - closest to a "new urbanist" congregation, has struggled with this for years - too ethnic/not ethic enough; too much scripture / not enough; too much formality / not enough.

Toure Zeigler said...

I agree and I suspect most "new urbanist" churches would everntually fall back into being a church with only upper middle class values and viewpoints.