To be a part of the community of Christ Church, and to engage in and through this community in worship, caring, sharing, growing, and serving, is to be connected in some way to what is called Christian community development.

CCDA_smallslide_4x3 copyThis is one name for the kind of work for God’s kingdom that we have been pursuing together for almost thirty years. Through ongoing partnerships with organizations that have been launched by Christ Church, namely SOS (Service Over Self), the Binghampton Development Corporation, and Cornerstone Preparatory School – Lester Campus/Lester Prep Middle School, we have been privileged to join our resources with those of the historic neighborhood of Binghampton in order to help improve its economy and quality of living.

Christ Church has made these investments in Binghampton order to seek God’s justice and peace for our city in ways guided by our Serving & Outreach values of relationship, empowerment, sustainability, and collaboration. These goals and values are grounded in the good news of Jesus’s lordship and the reality of God’s image reflected in every person.

Tom Marino is a longtime member of Christ Church. Through his work at SOS, he helped guide the church’s decision to invest long-term in this one neighborhood: 

When I became the director of SOS in 1995, we were working all over the city. Even though our office was at Tillman & Walnut Grove, we worked on very few houses in the neighborhood. For several reasons, we began to focus solely on one neighborhood, Binghampton– need, proximity to the church, logistics of volunteers/supplies and supervision of construction. It made sense to limit the geography. Primarily, the decision was also influenced by John Perkins, Bob Lupton and the Christian Community Development Association’s strategy and philosophy. Ultimately God used all of these with Scripture – love your neighbor, love the city and rebuild it, go, serve – to lead us to laser focus on our brothers and sisters in Binghampton.

Bob Lupton describes what has happened in Binghampton in his influential book Toxic Charity:

Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis is a stellar example. This large, in-town congregation became concerned about the deplorable living conditions in the Binghampton neighborhood, a long-neglected area a stone’s throw from the church. They adopted it as their parish and mobilized members to begin outreach there. They began with volunteer service projects repairing seniors’ homes … Soon several dilapidated houses were acquired, rehabbed, and occupied … The impact on Binghampton was immediately noticeable. Crime rates began to decline, a drug house boarded up, the quality of life showed signs of improvement. Others signed up for the mission and moved in … Binghampton Development Corporation was then created to provide skilled leadership to initiate a comprehensive redevelopment plan. (157-8)

While the story of Binghampton rising through its challenges is filled with almost unbelievable stories of God’s grace and blessing, it is only one part of a larger story of the body in Christ in Memphis advancing the cause of Jesus Christ.

Coming up on November 11-14, Memphis has a momentous opportunity to share this story with the world.

Over the course of these days, the national conference of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) is being held in Memphis. The theme, “Illuminate,” was chosen early on by Memphis community development leaders.

Christ Church is proud to be a Support Sponsor of the conference, so if you would like to attend, there is a special discounted rate for members of $109.

There are a few other opportunities, including for students, connected to Illuminate:

We hope you’ll join us and discover what it is looking like for the kingdom of God to come in our communities and to dream, pray, and get to work for what is to come.

Contact Nathan Brasfield at nathanb@cumcmemphis.org, 261-4386.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

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