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SUBMITTED TO BAKKE GRADUATE UNIVERSITY OF MINISTRY
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE DEGREE REQUIREMENTS OF A
DOCTOR OF MINIST...
CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1
BIBLIOGRAPHY 51
CHAPTER 1
BOOK REVIEWS
I verify that the following list represents all of the books I have read for this course, the
page ...
4
The Most Famous Man in America
by Debby Applegate
Doubleday (2006)
Henry Ward Beecher was an intriguing figure, and this...
5
A Theology as Big as the City
by Ray Bakke
InterVarsity Press (1997)
The main concept of this book is to present both th...
6
Urban Ministry
by Harvie Conn and Manuel Ortiz
Temple University Press (2001)
Manuel Ortiz describes this book as “the f...
7
To Live in Peace
by Mark Gornik
W.B. Eerdmans Publishing (2002)
The Sandtown neighborhood in Baltimore is a great exampl...
8
Renewing the City
by Robert Lupton
InterVarsity Press (2005)
In this book Robert Lupton retells the story of Nehemiah th...
9
Encounter God in the City
by Randy White
IVP Books (2006)
Involvement in urban ministry can lead to a process of transfo...
CHAPTER 2
JOURNAL
Day 1: November 6, 2011
Description: We started the day off early today by taking the subway from my
sis...
11
Analysis: Today was filled with a great deal of walking, which was fine since it
was such a beautiful day. Walking is t...
12
ministries. Transformational leaders are bridge builders and reconcilers, so it is my
responsibility as a pastor in Pit...
13
contained two African, two Asian, and one European pastor. The pastors were selected
intentionally to reflect the diver...
14
China, and Hong Kong, he planted 15 churches in New York, Taiwan, and Brazil, his
church sent mission teams to many dif...
15
in our modern global society.
Application: I cannot wait to get back to Pittsburgh to continue to work cross-
culturall...
16
transformational leaders and stewards. That type of thinking is a big reason why I moved
my family to Homewood in Pitts...
17
us about the importance of prayer in churches. He told us that the church must be about
love, or our message will get l...
18
of leading a multiracial campus in the East End. All of these things are possible with
God, and today my Father blessed...
19
unique communication skills mixed with his role as an abolitionist. The current pastor of
Plymouth Church, David Fisher...
20
celebrate his role in doing that over the past 2,000 years of Christian history. I was
completely amazed by the stark c...
21
African-American, and a third is white. In attracting a cross-cultural crowd, she has
incorporated a lot of art and div...
22
pastor at the Lutheran Church this morning introduced some powerful ways to connect
with people from the neighborhood c...
CHAPTER 3
Launching a New Multisite Church Campus in an Urban Environment
As a pastor at North Way Christian Community in ...
24
Our class spent a significant amount of time in seven churches in New York City.
Each of the churches we visited was fo...
25
I attended a worship service at Bethel Gospel Assembly in Harlem, and I also had
the opportunity to visit the church la...
26
building. The church leadership also worked out a deal with the real estate developer to
build a brand new, bigger sanc...
27
Faith Bible Church and Seminary
Faith Bible Church includes seminaries that train leaders in New York, Taiwan,
Canada, ...
28
contextualize the gospel to different environments. Big vision can have a huge impact in
expanding the Kingdom of God i...
29
Finally, Jim Cymbala encouraged pastors to be ourselves and avoid becoming an
actor. Originality, creativity, and authe...
30
CCC has attempted to design a Christian culture that values history, arts
integration, prayer, and a global perspective...
31
that God approved of slave owning, Henry Ward Beecher convinced many thousands of
Americans that slavery was ungodly an...
32
past as “writing chapters in the life of the church.”9
Many urban church leaders will be
called to do this with the chu...
33
Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Our group of Bakke Graduate University students had high hopes for our time
with Pastor Ti...
34
in the city, and getting together with churches to grow together. According to Keller, one
of the byproducts of this ap...
35
These logistical moves, which were intended by political officials to bring growth to East
Liberty, actually had the op...
36
who reflect the diversity of the surrounding neighborhoods. My vision for the church is
that we are able to connect wit...
37
various artists will be welcomed to use it as creative space. When people enter the
ministry center on Penn Avenue, the...
38
North Way East End church presents an opportunity to create the space that is needed for
local artistically inclined re...
39
partnered with. Part of the advantage of launching a new campus is that we will be small
and nimble enough to be able t...
40
Several of the churches we visited in New York created space and margin for
prayer and reflection. These components of ...
41
technology and innovation into driving the kingdom vision. North Way East End has a
launch budget of just over $500,000...
42
African-American, as well. I am committed to having a leadership team that reflects the
diversity in the East End. “Chu...
43
gospel is not advice. The gospel is news. Good news. The gospel empowers!”24
The hospitality team at North Way East End...
44
Emphasize Relationships
It will be crucial in the North Way East End campus, with so much going on in
the midst of the ...
45
God through relationships.
Authentic Community
A main wall by the café in the Christian Cultural Center in New York Cit...
46
traditional boundaries that separate people in Pittsburgh. My goal as a pastor in the East
End is to be a bridge builde...
47
five to ten years, there may be many more North Way urban church campuses. This
North Way East End launch may go a long...
CHAPTER 4
SELF-EVALUATION
I am so glad that I selected this New York City Urban Immersion course as my
last class at Bakke...
49
between churches and institutions can be very difficult. I know that first hand with the
LAMP mentoring initiative in P...
50
message in Pittsburgh in the urban environment where God has called me. Ray’s insight
was a joy at each of the places w...
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Applegate, Debby. The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward
Beecher. New York: Doubleday, 2...
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Transcript of "New York Urban Immersion"

  1. 1. SUBMITTED TO BAKKE GRADUATE UNIVERSITY OF MINISTRY IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE DEGREE REQUIREMENTS OF A DOCTOR OF MINISTRY MCC 702/URBAN IMMERSION – NEW YORK CITY NOVEMBER 6 – NOVEMBER 11, 2011 BY BRYAN MCCABE
  2. 2. CONTENTS CHAPTER 1 BIBLIOGRAPHY 51
  3. 3. CHAPTER 1 BOOK REVIEWS I verify that the following list represents all of the books I have read for this course, the page on which you will find my book review, and the number of pages read for each book. Book Title Page # of book review # of pages read The Most Famous Man in America 5 529 A Theology as Big as the City 6 221 Urban Ministry 7 527 To Live in Peace 8 261 Renewing the City 9 240 Encounter God in the City 10 191 TOTAL PAGES READ 1969 3
  4. 4. 4 The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate Doubleday (2006) Henry Ward Beecher was an intriguing figure, and this biography by Debby Applegate provides some amazing insight into the life of this pastor and leader in 19th century America. Beecher rose to fame in New York City as the founder of America’s first megachurch. He was a key figure in the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements, and he preached a gospel of love that stood in stark contrast to his famous Puritan father’s message of hell fire. To understand the history of Christianity in the early development of the United States, one should know of Beecher and his controversial life. I was floored by the amount of information that the author was able to gather about the life of this fascinating man. I read most of the book before arriving in New York for this course through Bakke Graduate University, and I was thrilled to be able to learn more about Beecher during our time at Plymouth Church. “Henry Ward Beecher’s own legacy has been uneven. Plymouth church still stands, looking much the same as when he trod its stage. His greatest talent was oratory, that most transient of arts, so he will never be judged by his best work.” (469) This biography helps to fill in many of the gaps in Beecher’s development. His strong family relationships, especially including his relationship with his father, played a crucial role in the type of pastor and leader that he became as an adult. He was able to build on the solid foundation that he received growing up, and yet he was his own man as he deviated heavily from his father’s theology and eventually from his father’s stances on some of the major social issues of that time period. In an era when many pastors were either advocating for slavery or remaining neutral on the subject, Beecher was able to develop his courage over time to be able to use his oratory skills to lead a nation through a time of healing during and after the civil war. I respect and admire any pastor who is able to stand up and utilize their influence to bring justice into the world, even if that calling comes with a great cost as it did with Beecher. Beecher’s life has influenced my life in that I have become even more inspired to take on injustices. God has given me influence in Pittsburgh, and I am praying that God will empower and equip me to be able to advance his Kingdom fearlessly over a period of many years. The controversies surrounding Beecher’s life show that he was human, and that he struggled in areas even though he had a dynamic personality. It is a good lesson that humility and accountability are also important components of leadership in the midst of pressing circumstances in complex urban environments.
  5. 5. 5 A Theology as Big as the City by Ray Bakke InterVarsity Press (1997) The main concept of this book is to present both the need for an urban theology and also Ray Bakke’s search for a theology of the city based on his life experiences. God values cities, although most systematic theologies are developed through a rural lens. After an overview of the need for an urban theology, the author addresses urban theology from Genesis all of the way through the Bible to Revelation. The author argues that the primary challenge to effective urban ministry in the 21st century is theological, although other challenges are demographic, missiological, ecclesiastical, and financial. The chapters of this book actually present the information along the lines of the chapters in the Bible. For instance, the second chapter entitled “God’s Hands Are in the Mud” presents an overview of the urban theological concepts found in the book of Genesis. God demonstrates in Genesis that he values his creation, and that he partners with us to steward its resources. From an urban perspective, many Christians “throw away” deteriorated city neighborhoods even though God values their redemption. Bakke identifies Philippians and Colossians as two different and unique perspectives on community development and spiritual transformation. He presents insight into the public spirituality of Colossians and the personal spirituality of Philippians. The author argues that both forms of spirituality are crucial to the fabric of a healthy urban community. He writes, “Of this I am sure: we will never have healthy ministry in our largest cities until we can affirm both Philippian and Colossian Christologies and the spiritualities they embody and then bring them together in the ministry of the church.” (162) The content in this urban ministry classic prepared a foundation for the experiences and theological perspectives that our class would gain during the New York City course. The healthy development of a theology of the city can lead to some amazing outcomes in terms of transformation in the lives of people and in urban places. After reading Bakke’s book, I had wished that he could have expanded on some of the key concepts he made in the short chapters. The New York City course provided plenty of opportunities for him to expand through lectures, and that really added context for me. This book was most valuable to my work in the area of urban and suburban partnerships. The ideas also carried over very well to the LAMP partnerships between churches and schools. Although corporate spirituality concepts were emphasized, I also gleaned a great deal of practical application toward my personal spirituality. I was forced to ask myself, “What biases do I have toward reading and understanding the Bible?” Because of my life experiences, I would definitely say that I have often read the Bible through a rural, white, middle class, American lens. Reading this book encouraged me to expand my view of scripture.
  6. 6. 6 Urban Ministry by Harvie Conn and Manuel Ortiz Temple University Press (2001) Manuel Ortiz describes this book as “the final work of Dr. Harvie Conn,” (11) the coauthor who became very ill and died before this work was completed. Dr. Conn wanted to deliver an urban ministry text book of sorts to students and practitioners in cities around the world. The authors do a deep dive into how Christians should respond to the complexities of urban life, covering such topics as the history of urban life, biblical perspectives on cities, understanding cities through the lens of the social sciences, community development, and the importance of Christ-centered leadership in mission to modern urban contexts. The authors have a wonderful overview of urban ministry. When I first became involved in urban ministry, I ordered as many books as I could about the subject in order to understand if I was being effective as a Christian leader or not. Although I never read the entire book at that time, many sections and excerpts helped me to engage my urban context appropriately. Now that I have had the opportunity to work through the whole book, I am even more appreciative of the scope of this work. The connection of sociological research to biblical perspectives was particularly helpful. “Use of the social sciences can make Christian mission activities both more effective and more fluid. We are able to plan and strategize better when we gain an accurate understanding of the dynamics of culture and geography in an area.” (256) Modern cities change rapidly, and demographic information is crucial for urban ministry leaders. Yes, individual relationships should always play a significant role in planning, but we should not be afraid to utilize social science tools that are available to us. Problems develop when Christian leaders spend too much time staring at demographic studies, and not enough time out and about in the community building relationships. The section on mentoring the urban leader was also an important part of this book. Over the past five years, I have sought out mentors to help me navigate the challenges of urban ministry. In the same way, I have given myself away on behalf of many young people in my community in order to help them progress as the urban leaders of the future in Homewood. “Mentoring is one of the most effective ways to disciple new Christians to maturity in Christ. Mentoring is also the best way to develop urban leaders.” (429) I heard from a U.S. census worker that only 3 percent of the people in my neighborhood of Homewood in Pittsburgh actually completed the recent census forms. When I pulled data recently to learn more about Pittsburgh, I noticed that the statistics seemed to be largely off base. Homewood statistics were nearly nonexistent in the research. That is why it is important for me, as a Christian leader in Homewood, to not emphasize demographic studies so much as spend time out in my community getting to know my neighbors even if they are not counted in census studies.
  7. 7. 7 To Live in Peace by Mark Gornik W.B. Eerdmans Publishing (2002) The Sandtown neighborhood in Baltimore is a great example of how Christians can work together toward the process of transformation. This book documents many aspects of Sandtown’s story, but the primary purpose of the author “is to consider the promise and possibility of God’s peace for the changing of the American inner city.” (1) A wide variety of theological perspectives are covered in order to represent God’s heart for reaching marginalized people who experience urban poverty. The gospel message is meant to be lived out in the streets, not exclusively held onto tightly in the quietness of church sanctuaries. I loved the thoughts that the author presented about being a church of the streets. I have found in my work in Homewood that the Holy Spirit is active in the streets of my neighborhood. We cannot build relationships with the vulnerable people of this world if we are unwilling to go into the streets where they are and spend time being sensitive to where the Spirit might be calling us to go. The church in America has often lagged far behind culture when it comes to diversity. However, I strongly believe that the church should actually be out in front of culture with regard to reconciliation. “Amidst the deep structures of division old and new that have formed in our urban world, part of what it must mean to be a community that bears testimony to Christ is to pursue reconciliation across boundaries of culture, race, ethnicity, social class, and gender.” (83) Christians need to figure out a way to build relationships outside the walls of the church at a time when many Christians are withdrawing from cities and society in general in order to generate Christian bubbles for ourselves. When Christians engage cities and culture, we live out the overwhelming joy of sacrificing all for the sake of Christ. I felt that the author could have developed this point more in the book, although he captured this way of living well in writing, “It is the living memory of Jesus – the rejected, marginal, but ultimately resurrected and ascended one – that opens a new narrative, convicting all who follow him to live vulnerably and passionately for God’s reign.” (236) God desires for us to give everything we have for his sake, and that is only accomplished with unrelenting passion and hope that God is ultimately in control of everything. I saw many parallels to Homewood in Sandtown. Specifically, I live in a house in Homewood that is a product of Christians in Pittsburgh working together to address urban blight through housing. The street I live on was once one of the most violent and chaotic streets in the entire city, and now it is a place of ever-growing shalom. That type of thing can only happen because of God’s intervention. I have been inspired to become more involved in the issue of housing in Homewood, where over 48 percent of properties are vacant.
  8. 8. 8 Renewing the City by Robert Lupton InterVarsity Press (2005) In this book Robert Lupton retells the story of Nehemiah through a process called midrash, which is an ancient Jewish teaching method using imagination and imagery to add context to Scriptures. The first part of the book focuses on adding depth to the study of the biblical book of Nehemiah. The second part of the book draws parallels between Nehemiah’s community development work in Jerusalem and modern day development efforts in American inner cities. Contemporary urban ministry principles are compared to ancient urban ministry principles. The author argues that the dilemmas facing urban ministry leaders long ago are relevant in resolving similar dilemmas today. One highlight of the book was a chapter about gentrification with justice, which argued that what is needed in cities is gentry “who will use their competencies and connections to ensure that their lower-income neighbors have a stake in revitalizing their neighborhood.” (124) Christians are called to care for the poor, and those who move back into the city from the suburbs need to think strategically about also caring for justice for their neighbors. The book has another great chapter about vision and risk taking. Lupton speaks clearly and with credibility about the need for strong visionary leadership from urban leaders. He argues that “Vision that is divinely authored – the kind that extends me far beyond my own abilities – requires a frightful level of risk taking. It is fundamentally different from strategy planning and goal setting. It requires me to let go of the security of predictable outcomes and venture into uncharted waters with little more than an inaudible internal voice as a guide. Such vision is not a product of human creativity; it is divinely conceived and implanted in the spirits of those who are willing to trust miracle over plan.” (151) Nehemiah was a visionary risk taker, and this is what is needed for all urban ministry leaders today. This is one of the author’s strongest points. The final chapters focus on different aspects of incarnational living. Cities may have a romantic appeal on people from an outside perspective (with their violence, noise, and drama), but everything becomes much more meaningful once the inner city issues begin impacting one’s family and home. Programs are important, but good neighbors are much more important to the renewing of the city. Robert Lupton describes the process of how his ministry became much more effective once he moved to where he was serving. I hope that I am more effective as an urban ministry leader now that I have moved to the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Lupton gives many different examples about how his move impacted his family, and the incarnational move of my family in Pittsburgh has also had a big impact on the community. Many children in my community spend a great deal of time at our house, and my family has had to make quite an adjustment.
  9. 9. 9 Encounter God in the City by Randy White IVP Books (2006) Involvement in urban ministry can lead to a process of transformation. However, that transformation does not just randomly happen. Christians who get involved in cities need to practice reflection in order to fully experience all that God wants us to learn. That briefly summarizes Dr. Randy White’s intention in writing this book. There are practical points within the book, but White also leverages the use of personal stories in order to “maximize insight into the city through reflection and application.” (16) With thoughtfulness and humor, White captures both the joys and the pains associated with life in the center of the city. I could relate to a lot of White’s experiences in urban ministry. His openness about different situations has actually helped me tremendously in Pittsburgh. What do I do when a prostitute or a homeless person shows up on my doorstep asking for money or shelter from the storms of life? How does God want Christians to respond to mentally ill? What do we do when people steal things from our front porch? I have had to deal with all of these questions in my journey of moving to Homewood, and the experiences in this book help to answer those questions. In fact, most of the time the “answer” is that there is no rational answer to the toughest questions in life. Still, God has equipped all of us to be creative and find solutions if maybe we made a wrong decision but are willing to learn from our mistakes. The important thing is that we do not remain paralyzed by inaction or become overwhelmed by the complexities of modern cities. “There is a reciprocal relationship between action and understanding. God has designed us in such a way that we don’t fully know something until we have acted on it. And when we take action, especially in the form of service, it cements our understanding, sealing the truth in our souls and leading us to live out God’s love.” (179) White emphasizes that transformation occurs both personally, for the practitioner, as well as corporately in the community where the work is being done. Urban ministry leaders have a lot to give, but God also has a lot to teach them along the way. God may choose to change the neighborhood around through strategic planning and vision, but it is important to understand that God’s plans are often different than our own agendas. I am committed to being a better steward of my experiences in Homewood. I often hold back from sharing my personal experiences in Homewood because I do not want to make the work that I have been called to sound heroic or even exploitative of the relationships that God has allowed me to share with kids and their families in my community. However, if my heart is in the right place in sharing experiences, then other Christians might be able to take the onramps and become more involved with the transformation that is taking place in Homewood.
  10. 10. CHAPTER 2 JOURNAL Day 1: November 6, 2011 Description: We started the day off early today by taking the subway from my sister Cameron’s house to our BGU class meeting place at the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association. We had the opportunity to meet over 30 new classmates and friends. Dr. Ray Bakke started the day off with a lecture about New York, and then we all divided up to go to different churches in the city. I attended worship services at Bethel Gospel Assembly, a church that takes up an entire city block in Harlem. The church was pretty diverse with a strong African-American and Latino presence in the building. The songs were many of the same songs that I am familiar with at North Way in Pittsburgh, only the style was very different. The songs all had a strong gospel feel. I asked lots of questions about how the church is intentional about being cross-cultural, and how they design their worship. I have not spent much time in Pentecostal churches, so it was an enjoyable experience. We ate lunch at a soul food restaurant in Harlem, and then we watched the New York City Marathon for a while. All afternoon we toured around Wall Street, the Occupy Wall Street movement, Federal Hall, NYSE, St. Paul’s Church, Trinity Church (the second richest church in the world), and the Customs House. Ray lectured a lot along the way. We then took a ferry ride to and from Staten Island as we watched the sun set on a perfect day in New York. In the evening we watched a documentary about the history of New York City back at the MNYBA. 10
  11. 11. 11 Analysis: Today was filled with a great deal of walking, which was fine since it was such a beautiful day. Walking is the best way to get to know a city. That’s true in New York City and in Pittsburgh. One of my favorite things to do in Pittsburgh is walk around the city to get to know people and places. I really enjoy the Bakke Graduate University learning model because what we learn in the classroom is carried over into the streets. I picked up on couple good lines that Ray said while we were walking around the city. He pointed out that the church has two functions: to be a sign of and an agent for the Kingdom of God agenda. There are several different models that are effective in cities. He used the metaphor for urban ministry that some ministries are like bicycles and some are like 747 airplanes. Depending on the context, either approach is effective or ineffective. Small churches can do things in cities that big churches cannot do, and vice versa. Storefront churches can provide a family structure for people in need, while cathedrals can speak truth to power. As Christians in the city, we should value the many different expressions of worship in the city. The diversity in New York is amazing! I am really enjoying getting to know so many people. I have classmates from all different parts of the United States, and other countries such as Brazil and Thailand. I met several campus pastors of multisite churches today, and I also met several people working with at-risk youth. I even met a guy from Chicago who launched a faith-based mentoring initiative with high risk youth in Chicago five years ago. We had a lot in common, and I love having access to these types of leaders. Application: I learned many transferable principles today. I need to continue to walk around the East End of Pittsburgh to get to know my community better. One of the key points we discussed today was that most churches in cities operate in silos. The pastors and church members rarely interact with people from other churches and
  12. 12. 12 ministries. Transformational leaders are bridge builders and reconcilers, so it is my responsibility as a pastor in Pittsburgh to build bridges with other churches and Christians in the city. As the East End campus is launched, it will be crucial for me to continue to be present in the East End as a reconciler while also remaining focused on the details associated with a new North Way campus. Every church has gifts, no matter the size, scope, or history of the mission. It is part of my job as a pastor in the city to identify those gifts. Day 2: November 7, 2011 Description: This morning started with Ray giving a lecture about God’s description of a healthy city in Isaiah 65. Heaven will be an urban environment, and the cities will be characterized by happiness, healthiness, good housing, plenty of food, strong extended families, integrity of work, and the absence of conflict. Christian leaders in today’s cities should all be striving to work toward the heavenly standards that God described in Isaiah 65. Modern urban churches face many challenges, however. The challenges are sociological because cities contain so much pluralism. For instance, one zip code in Flushing that we visited today has 130 different languages and New York City in general has people who speak over 800 different languages. There are over 2 million Jews, 1 million Chinese, 800,000 Muslims, 400,000 Hindus, 100,000 West Africans, and 100,000 Sikhs in New York City. All of the Chinese people who live outside of China, nearly 140 million people, represent the tenth largest country in the world. Church leaders must adapt in order to reach people in a pluralistic society. We need to figure out how to connect with many different kinds of people, not become afraid to talk to people who are different than us. The early church set an example of diversity in church leadership in Acts 13, where we see that the church leadership in Antioch
  13. 13. 13 contained two African, two Asian, and one European pastor. The pastors were selected intentionally to reflect the diversity in Antioch and the greater region. Churches also face structural, denominational, financial, and personal challenges in modern cities. Chris Clayman, a missionary in New York City, then lectured about his ministry to the large diaspora of 100,000 West African immigrants living in New York City. He does spend some time in the West African nation of Mali, but most of his mission lies in reaching the Muslim population from Mali that lives in New York. Many American Christians rush to take short term mission trips to exotic jungles overseas, but they will not reach out to the people from many different nationalities living in their own cities and back yards. Early Christianity spread rapidly through the Jewish Diaspora, so why can God not work through us today to reach diaspora people groups in modern cities? Clayman suggested that churches need to build mission into their systems and structures so that we can be equipped to reach people groups in our own neighborhoods and cities. We took the subway to Queens to visit an Indonesian church called Seh Moon Baptist Church, where we took in a lecture by Tony Carnes who is a senior writer with Christianity Today and the founder of a web magazine with 1.4 million viewers that covers religion in New York. Ray Bakke also lectured at that church, and he pointed out that each person in our churches has biological, geographical, vocational, and recreational spheres of influence. If we can intentionally influence people in those spheres of influence, then a congregation of 100 people is suddenly multiplied by four in order to reach 400 people. Than means pastors and ministry leaders in cities should visit people where they live, work, and play in order to advance the Kingdom of God. After that we went in one of the three Chinatowns in New York in the Flushing neighborhood. We spent time with a Chinese pastor who has built new seminaries in New York, Taiwan, Canada, Brazil, Paris, Italy,
  14. 14. 14 China, and Hong Kong, he planted 15 churches in New York, Taiwan, and Brazil, his church sent mission teams to many different countries in the world, and he has led a community care movement in New York that impacts many people every day. He showed us pictures of a cave that was dug in China to train church leaders. One of the great things about Bakke Graduate University is that I have the opportunity to learn from leaders in many different urban environments in many different countries in the world, and I get an amazing glimpse into the diversity of the body of Christ. This century that we are currently living in will be China’s century of influence, so it is important for Christian leaders to understand what is going on culturally around the globe in order to be more effective at reaching people. The church we visited operates seven different church services in different languages to different people groups. I have a lot to learn from them! Analysis: I took in a lot of information today! I was greatly encouraged about the possibilities of building a cross-cultural worship experience in Pittsburgh. New York is a great place to learn about how Christians can be effective in pluralistic urban environments, and I heard about and witnessed several successful examples today. I am very intrigued about the possibilities of reaching diasporic people groups in cities in America, including in my urban context in Pittsburgh. I have often wondered why people in Pittsburgh go to such great lengths to go on mission trips to Mexico and countries in Central America, but they completely ignore and sometimes even despise the Hispanic people living in Pittsburgh. We can all live missionally every day of our lives. Short term mission trips to other countries can be fine, but they should lead us to live missionally to reach people in our own neighborhoods and cities. I was amazed at how the Chinese church we visited today reached people in many different parts of their city and in other countries. It is possible to be locally and globally connected, and that skill set is effective
  15. 15. 15 in our modern global society. Application: I cannot wait to get back to Pittsburgh to continue to work cross- culturally with LAMP and in the North Way East End community. I am being very intentional about God’s pluralistic heart, and I hope our church can continue to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and live out that kind of diversity. Pittsburgh has many different neighborhoods that are often separated from one another, but I really feel that my role as a pastor in Pittsburgh is one of a bridge builder and reconciler across cultures. That includes reconciliation across races and socioeconomic status. I am so thankful for the many models of ministry that I am experiencing this week in one of the most amazing cities on the planet. Also, with regard to application, I am hoping to visit many of the people who are planning to be on the East End launch team at their places of work and recreation over the months to come. That should really help me to get to know people, because people in cities often emphasize their vocation and recreational activities. I am really looking forward to what tomorrow will bring. Day 3: November 8, 2011 Description: Today was one of the best days I have had in a long time. I cannot even begin to describe how the Holy Spirit ministered to me today, and how much God opened my heart to new perspectives on his mission to advance his Kingdom. I am truly blessed to be a part of this doctorate program at Bakke Graduate University. On this day I had the opportunity to spend time with some of the most influential leaders in the body of Christ. This morning Ray Bakke gave one of his classic lectures about how most money that is intended to help poor people is actually filtered out of poor urban neighborhoods to middle class urban or suburban neighborhoods. He provided a biblical foundation for why Christian leaders should care about such issues as becoming engaged as
  16. 16. 16 transformational leaders and stewards. That type of thinking is a big reason why I moved my family to Homewood in Pittsburgh. Any Christian serving the poor should go about it in an empowering way. The gospel is good news, and it is empowering. After Ray’s morning lecture we visited Dr. Mark Gornik, the founder of City Seminary, a training school for urban Christian leaders that delivers a curriculum similar to Bakke Graduate University in that cities are the labs and theory is all tied in practically. A woman named Dr. Janice McClain, a pastor who immigrated to America from Jamaica when she was a teenager, shared with us about how Harlem is being gentrified and pastors like her are learning how to be effective at ministering in complex urban environments. In the afternoon we all went to Bethel Gospel Assembly, a huge multicultural church in Harlem, where Bishop Dr. Carlton Brown shared with us about how his church is doing amazing things reaching many different types of people for Christ in Harlem, in the greater New York region, and in countries all over the world. It is so amazing and inspiring to see the fruit that God is able to bring forth from churches that are missional to the core. Yesterday I visited a Chinese church that is reaching thousands of people all over the world, and today I visited a church made up mostly of African-American and Latino people who are making a huge difference in the world for the sake of Christ. Vision is a holy discontent for the way things are, and good pastors are able to be visionary. Also, there are many different ways to be effective at urban ministry. Much depends on the context and vision. In the late afternoon, we visited Brooklyn Tabernacle, another huge multiracial church with over 10,000 members that started in what was once one of the most violent and dangerous neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The senior pastor, Jim Cymbala, spent several hours with us describing how the church started with only a few members and how through the power of prayer God has done some amazing things. He shared with
  17. 17. 17 us about the importance of prayer in churches. He told us that the church must be about love, or our message will get lost in all of the craziness associated with the institutional church. He encouraged all of us to be real, and not try to be actors as pastors. He also mentioned that the biggest challenge facing the modern church is at-risk youth, and that all churches should develop strategies for reaching troubled urban youth. That made me feel good that North Way has been doing just that in our city of Pittsburgh through the LAMP mentoring initiative. Analysis: There is far too much that happened to me today to describe in this journal. I will only be able to unpack it all over a good cup of coffee with lots of people back in Pittsburgh. God is so amazing! I honestly cannot think of a better way to learn. We learn deep theories in a classroom, and then we go out into the streets to see how that theology and theory is being applied. I was completely surprised by how authentic and engaged these amazing leaders were today. The Holy Spirit really worked through Jim Cymbala in particular to encourage me that cross-cultural church is not only possible, but essential for the growth of the church in cities in America. He also demonstrated the importance of prayer as the foundation for living out God’s purposes. Application: I was greatly encouraged today in the three things that I am most passionate about in Pittsburgh: working with at-risk youth, missional church, and multiracial church. Today I interacted with pastors who are living out profound callings in all three of those areas, and it is so inspiring to have access to people who have been down the road that I am only beginning to go down in Pittsburgh. My heart is to continue to reach the at-risk young people that I am working with in Homewood, to continue to encourage North Way to get outside the walls of our church buildings in order to build relationships with people who are not Christians, and to remain committed to the dream
  18. 18. 18 of leading a multiracial campus in the East End. All of these things are possible with God, and today my Father blessed me with the gift of encouragement and empowerment. I am ready for the next steps in Pittsburgh! Day 4: November 9, 2011 Description: Today was another dream day for an urban pastor! We left early this morning and traveled by bus from Manhattan to Brooklyn to visit the largest evangelical church in northeast America. Christian Cultural Center, led by Pastor AR Bernard, is one of the top five largest churches in the country with over 35,000 members. The church has a lot of diversity, and the majority of members are African-American. I learned so many things that I will be trying to figure out how to implement at the North Way East End campus. The church places a huge emphasis on hospitality, relationships, a welcoming environment, arts integration, missiology, technology, and church history. Pastor Bernard encouraged us as pastors to lead from our hearts and be ourselves (not trying to be like some other pastor we may want to emulate). The church is diverse partially because their worship is eclectic with classical, jazz, and hymns, and their teaching resonates with many different types of people. They favor dynamic orthodoxy over static tradition. Their church objectives are to effectively care for people, efficiently manage resources, and enable real growth through discipleship. The time spent at CCC was truly an amazing experience, and I am so thankful that I was able to learn from such a good leader in the heart of Brooklyn. We left one of the most influential churches in the twenty-first century to travel to a different part of Brooklyn where we spent time at the largest and most famous church of the nineteenth century, Plymouth Church, which was the first megachurch in America founded by Henry Ward Beecher in 1849. During the Civil War era Beecher was widely considered to be the most famous man in America due to his
  19. 19. 19 unique communication skills mixed with his role as an abolitionist. The current pastor of Plymouth Church, David Fisher, was a classmate of Ray Bakke’s at Trinity Seminary many years ago. He spoke to us about what it is like to lead a church with a rich tradition in an affluent neighborhood in which many people are atheists in a strong secular society. When he took over as the tenth pastor of the church several years ago there were only a handful of people attending. The church was mostly made up of Unitarians who were remnants from a period when the name of Jesus was forbidden to be mentioned for 99 years. Since he has come to the church, they are experiencing a revival and have grown to several hundred people. He talked to us about the hostility that he faces from people who worship money and are hostile toward religion. He shared several keys for modern church leaders. It is important for Christian leaders to understand culture and context, the best ministry is incarnational, leadership is helping people find God’s will for their lives, we need to utilize effective theology, we must understand that we are not the Holy Spirit, and good pastors are amateur sociologists and anthropologists. Analysis: Over the past couple of days we went to one church that grew locally because the pastor cast a vision to impact the world globally. We went to one church that grew because the pastor emphasized prayer. We went to another church that grew because the pastor emphasized organization and corporate structures that supported the gospel message and discipleship through relationships. We visited another church that grew because an experienced minister served as a doctor to fix the sicknesses facing the church. The point is, there are many different effective approaches to church in the city. It is important for pastors to contextualize what is going on in their churches and cities in order to be effective, but there is no one right way to do church. The Holy Spirit is able to work through many different ways to advance the Kingdom of God, and we also need to
  20. 20. 20 celebrate his role in doing that over the past 2,000 years of Christian history. I was completely amazed by the stark contrast between the churches we visited today. Application: I gained many ideas about how we can be effective in the East End of Pittsburgh. We will still have North Way’s DNA, but it will definitely be my role as the campus pastor to contextualize the worship experience in the East End. That means I will need to continue to spend a lot of time in the neighborhoods getting to know people and places, including pastors, churches, restaurants, organizations, streets, and everything in between. At this point I think I am planning to walk around the East End, beginning in East Liberty, and visit every single church in order to find out more about the work that God is already doing in the East End. From a more tangible perspective, I have some great ideas about cross-cultural ministry that should be very helpful in the urban environment where I live and work. I am so excited to get back to Pittsburgh to jump right in! Day 5: November 10, 2011 Description: This was my last full day in New York City. I will miss the city and the many new friendships I have made this week, but I really cannot wait to get back to Pittsburgh to be with my friends and family. I have learned so much about God’s heart for reaching the city from some of the most incredible urban leaders in the world. This morning Ray Bakke lectured about how Paul went to many different kinds of cities, and he modeled many different approaches to reaching people in those cities depending on the culture and context. The gospel message of Jesus Christ never changes, but different methods of carrying forth the message should be utilized. Our first site visit this morning was to Trinity Lutheran Church in Manhattan where the congregation is led by a pastor named Heidi Neumark. Around a third of the population of the church is Latino, a third is
  21. 21. 21 African-American, and a third is white. In attracting a cross-cultural crowd, she has incorporated a lot of art and diverse imagery into her teaching and the look of the church. I gained some great ideas about how to connect with many different groups of people in the East End of Pittsburgh. After lunch we all spent time with Tim Keller, a pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. He shared with us about his journey in life, and how Christian leaders can lead effectively in complex urban environments. He has tried to create an “ecosystem” in New York that leads to sustainable church growth and planting plus effective partnerships with specialized parachurch organizations. Keller has been very effective at bridging the gap between personal evangelism and social justice in evangelical churches, and it was interesting to hear his perspectives in person. In the late afternoon we visited the studio of Makoto Fujimura, an artist who is impacting culture in New York and around the world through the International Arts Movement. Our class had a wonderful discussion about how Christians can impact culture in cities through the arts, and many of us pastors had a lot of questions about how we can integrate the arts into our churches. I heard some wonderful ideas that I just might try out in Pittsburgh. For our last stop in the day, we visited NYU, the largest private university in the country with 50,000 students. We spoke to the Protestant chaplain about her role in providing spiritual support for students at NYU, a door that has opened up a lot since 9/11 caused the university to be more open to religious activity on campus. We also heard from a Muslim chaplain and a Jewish chaplain who support students at NYU. It was very interesting to listen in on the interfaith dialogue that these three campus leaders have opened up with one another. The conversations between the chaplains and my classmates were fascinating. Analysis: We have been introduced to some of the most significant leaders in all of New York this week, and it has been a lot to take in. Today was another great day. The
  22. 22. 22 pastor at the Lutheran Church this morning introduced some powerful ways to connect with people from the neighborhood cross-culturally, Tim Keller provided us with some powerful thoughts, and the rest of the speakers throughout the course of the day were full of insight. I was surprised at how interested my classmates were in integrating the arts into their churches, and I was equally surprised by some of the answers the artists provided as advice to pastors. The artists suggested that instead of pastors thinking about how to use the art in the church, that pastors should go to where the artists live and do their work and spend time with them in order to get to know them and learn more about their work. Interaction with artwork does not need to be transactional right out of the gate. We do not need to try to force Christian meaning into the world of art. Art, as with all things in the life of the church, is a gift from God. Application: I am sure I will be trying to apply many things at North Way based upon today’s experiences. For one, I need to continue to try to learn the context and culture of the East End of Pittsburgh as we approach our launch date. I am really thinking through the artwork and design of the East End ministry center. I think we could do some innovative things to attract a more diverse group of people to the church. I am thinking murals and different kinds of artwork that are welcoming to many different kinds of people. Tim Keller encouraged us to build strong relationships with parachurch organizations that specialize in certain parts of the church’s mission, and in the East End I am going to continue to connect with organizations that can help us to reach many different kinds of people. Partnerships can be really helpful to both churches and the organizations. LAMP is a great example of that in Pittsburgh. Our church has much to build on, and many areas that we can grow together.
  23. 23. CHAPTER 3 Launching a New Multisite Church Campus in an Urban Environment As a pastor at North Way Christian Community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I am currently leading the launch of a new church location in a diverse, urban part of the city called the East End. The grand opening of the North Way East End location will be on January 29, 2012. The church is currently being built and designed. During this Bakke Graduate University course in New York City, I learned about many different types of church buildings and strategies contextualized to complex urban environments. The purpose of this project is to implement many of the concepts discovered during my time in New York City into the design and grand opening of the North Way East End church location in Pittsburgh. Churches in New York City We visited many different types of churches during the week in New York City, and we learned that this city is a complex place where a wide variety of churches and ministry models are needed. There are advantages and disadvantages to every model of advancing the kingdom of God in a city. Small churches can provide a family network for displaced people, and large, affluent churches can influence many people and institutions while speaking truth to power. “There is no one way to do urban ministry. There is no one city paradigm. Theology must be rooted in communities.”1 1 Ray Bakke, lecture at Bethel Gospel Assembly on November 8, 2011. 23
  24. 24. 24 Our class spent a significant amount of time in seven churches in New York City. Each of the churches we visited was founded in different contexts with a wide variety of foci depending upon the culture. Bethel Gospel Assembly grew locally based upon a global missional strategy, as the Lord directed the church leadership to “sow abroad in order to reap at home.”2 Faith Bible Church was founded by Chinese Americans with a strong external and global focus on pastor training, church planting, and community care. Brooklyn Tabernacle emphasized prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, and the church has reached many people. Christian Cultural Center grew to over 35,000 people by building a Christian culture with the foundation of relationships and processes. Plymouth Church was once the most famous church in America founded by the most famous man in America, and after a long recent Unitarian history the old church is experiencing a revival in the midst of an affluent, antireligious, and even hostile population because the leadership at the church has sought to contextualize the gospel by understanding the history, context, and culture of the neighborhood. Trinity Lutheran Church is a smaller church in a diverse neighborhood that intentionally embraces the multiracial make up of the people through the arts and empowering teaching. Redeemer Presbyterian Church reaches many people in a secular Manhattan environment by intentionally reaching into many different sectors of society through a gospel ecosystem anchored in church planting and renewal of established churches. In order to understand the concepts that will go into the design of the new North Way East End church in Pittsburgh, I will examine the ideas and strengths contextualized in the different churches visited in New York. Bethel Gospel Assembly 2 Carlton Brown, lecture at Bethel Gospel Assembly on November 8, 2011.
  25. 25. 25 I attended a worship service at Bethel Gospel Assembly in Harlem, and I also had the opportunity to visit the church later in the week to meet Bishop Carlton Brown. This church of over 2,000 members was founded 93 years ago out of racial tension. Two young African-American girls tried to attend a local church, and they were turned away. A white woman noticed what had happened, she followed the girls home, and talked to them about setting up a church in New York that was multiracial. The church was born out of love, not separation. To this day, the church remains multiracial with a strong African-American presence and also a large Latino population. The music has a strong gospel feel, and Spanish lyrics are also integrated into many of the songs. One of the interesting things about this church is that it has grown locally by emphasizing global missions. The church supports many global mission efforts, especially in South Africa. The leadership at the church believes that they have experienced growth in attendance at the church because they have been committed to a global worldview. The church currently meets in an old middle school building that was purchased from the board of education. The auditorium serves as the sanctuary, and many of the public school classrooms and offices now serve as church classrooms, offices, and overflow seating. The church grounds take up nearly an entire city block, and yet the church needed some more space so the leadership has become very innovative. The church leadership sold off a main corner piece of property to a commercial real estate developer who planned to build a high rise mixed use apartment and retail building. The pastor also managed to sell the air space above the new church location so that apartments could be built several stories up that actually reach over top of the church
  26. 26. 26 building. The church leadership also worked out a deal with the real estate developer to build a brand new, bigger sanctuary at the street level of the building next to the retail space. The church also has a floor for church offices, and several of the apartments higher up in the building have been set aside for church members to live in order to build community in the building. I thought that this was an extremely creative and savvy way to dream of doing church in a different way when the space becomes outgrown. This is a great example of a church working toward common grace and increasing levels of shalom in cities by partnering with real estate developers. Harlem has seen many new real estate developments in recent years, and Dr. Brown pointed out that he and the church are trying to figure out how to adjust to the forces of gentrification that have deeply impacted the neighborhood around the church. The church wants to welcome everyone while still respecting and valuing the traditional make up of the neighborhood. “This church is a loving church, a learning church, and a launching church.”3 Affluent people and poor people can feel welcome here. Newcomers and people who have been in Harlem for many years can feel welcome here. There is intentional margin for growth. 3 Carlton Brown, lecture at Bethel Gospel Assembly in Harlem on November 8, 2011.
  27. 27. 27 Faith Bible Church and Seminary Faith Bible Church includes seminaries that train leaders in New York, Taiwan, Canada, Brazil, Paris, Italy, China, and Hong Kong, fifteen churches planted in different countries, local and global mission efforts to places like Africa and South America, and an extensive local community care network that includes schools, summer camps, a café, arts integration, piano lessons, English classes, and much more. One innovative seminary in China meets in a hole that was dug in the ground in a secret location. Following Jesus in urban environments requires tremendous creativity, and this church is a great example of that. Faith Bible Church has a true global and missional perspective. “John Hao draws his strategy from Paul’s church planting methodology in Acts. Paul is seen as constantly taking short-term missions trips across Asia and Europe. He would plant churches and then visit them. Paul was also a part of a team. Rev. Hao and his leadership travel to the major continents of the world to reach the rapidly expanding Chinese immigrant population. Whether to China, Taiwan, Paris, Sao Paulo, or Johannesburg, the church at home is strengthened as the result of its investment abroad.”4 The church also holds seven different services in different languages, and the church buildings are used for many different purposes throughout the week in order to reach out missionally into the community. We can learn from this church that it is good for urban churches to have good biblical teaching and strong worship services, but it is also important to have a focus on reaching out locally and globally while working hard to 4 John Hao, lecture at Seh Moon Baptist Church on November 7, 2011.
  28. 28. 28 contextualize the gospel to different environments. Big vision can have a huge impact in expanding the Kingdom of God in cities and around the world. Brooklyn Tabernacle Jim Cymbala has established an amazing church in Brooklyn. Famous for its choir, I was personally blown away by how Spirit-led this church was. I also learned many important things about leadership during the time we spent with Cymbala. In terms of what stood out in general about this church, the focus on intentional diversity built on a foundation of love was very strong. This church strongly emphasizes prayer. They have prayer teams that pray around the clock for prayer requests that pour in from around the world. There are weekly prayer gatherings that attract thousands of people. Cymbala mentioned that one of the ways to tell if a church is healthy or not is to examine how they collectively pray. Cymbala mentioned that the biggest mission field facing the modern church is at- risk kids. Brooklyn Tabernacle has developed many programs and outreach efforts designed to reach high risk youth living in urban environments. I was greatly encouraged by this emphasis on youth as I have dedicated a considerable amount of my life to impacting at-risk youth, including the past six years with the LAMP mentoring initiative in Pittsburgh. I am planning to continue to focus on LAMP even as I spend more of my time serving as the campus pastor at the North Way East End campus. The intentionality of reaching kids through mentoring aligns very well with the church’s goal of impacting the community and city. Student ministries will also be a strong focus of the East End.
  29. 29. 29 Finally, Jim Cymbala encouraged pastors to be ourselves and avoid becoming an actor. Originality, creativity, and authenticity are crucial to urban ministry and leadership in general. The Holy Spirit works through us when we are authentic. Brooklyn Tabernacle demonstrates the importance of contextualization when serving as a church in complex urban environments. Christian Cultural Center One of the first things I noticed about our visit to Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn was the warm welcome and hospitality we received when we arrived. We were greeted well and fed, and then we were invited to tour the church facility with the lead pastor, AR Bernard. The first thing he told us was that the church places a high value on hospitality and community because people need to feel welcomed into a church. Hospitality has been a strong emphasis at North Way for a long time, and I was encouraged to see that a church with 35,000 attendees still sees that as an important part of gathering together to worship the Lord. There are probably many reasons why the CCC has grown so much, but Pastor Bernard shared his thoughts on some of the keys to effective growth in urban environments. He personally is a networker, so he builds good relationships, but he is also a former accountant who loves process, so good programs and systems are instrumental in church growth. He mentioned that three keys to ministry are environment, people, and programs. “Every church should have three common objectives: effectively caring for people, efficiently managing resources, and enabling real growth.”5 5 AR Bernard, lecture at Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn on November 9, 2011.
  30. 30. 30 CCC has attempted to design a Christian culture that values history, arts integration, prayer, and a global perspective. One of the rooms that stood out to me was a prayer and reflection room designed to provide a place of peace and quite for followers of Jesus to hear from the Lord. The prayer room had quite an urban feel, with pictures of skyscrapers painted on some walls and glass for the other walls. Another room in the church was dedicated to global missions and the overall vision of the church to reach culture in many different ways. An interactive wall of global maps and TVs was a creative use of technology, and different keepsakes and photos were prominently displayed around the space to celebrate the history of the church. The rooms are intentionally set up to draw people into dynamic orthodoxy versus static tradition. The Christian Cultural Center has an intentionally diverse music style. According to AR Bernard, “The worship is not just a rock concert. We incorporate classical music, jazz, hymns, and very eclectic songs into the mix.”6 There is no one style of music that is appropriate for urban environments, and with neighborhoods changing so frequently in cities, it would make sense to embrace many music genres when leading people to worship the Lord. Diverse worship is a big part of developing a strong Christian culture. Plymouth Church Our class had an enjoyable transition from a modern megachurch to America’s first megachurch founded by Henry Ward Beecher. Plymouth Church was founded by Beecher, a pastor who led his church in the fight against slavery, “calling for its abolition in the pulpit, on the public platform, and in newspaper columns. At a time when many churches were silent on the subject, and prominent ministers cited Scripture as evidence 6 AR Bernard, lecture at Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn on November 9, 2011.
  31. 31. 31 that God approved of slave owning, Henry Ward Beecher convinced many thousands of Americans that slavery was ungodly and unchristian. The nation’s soul, he warned, would be destroyed if it did not purge itself of this monstrous sin.”7 While the original church congregation was big and influential, over the years much of that influence was lost as the church declined and Unitarians insisted that the name of Jesus not be mentioned in the church for 99 years. The current pastor, David Fisher, has done some amazing work in bringing revival into the church and reaching into the community in very creative ways. He has experience as a “doctor” of sorts who can bring about transformation and restoration in struggling urban churches. Most of the current members of Plymouth Church have tons of money and a worldview that is often secular. One of the things Fisher has been able to do effectively is develop an understanding for culture and context. “Culture is sovereign. You’ve got to bend toward it and subvert it. Every culture’s values are worldly. Churches exist in and are cultures. The church is a culture.”8 Not only do urban church leaders need to understand and develop cultures, ministry always involves crossing cultures. We need to become familiar with the concept of displacement in order to reach deeply across cultures with the gospel message. Plymouth Church celebrates their unique, rich history. However, they are also committed to change and looking forward to what God might have in store for the future. David Fisher is working hard to translate theology into the life of the church and the people, and he refers to the process of looking forward with churches that have a strong 7 Debby Applegate, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher (New York: Doubleday, 2006), 5. 8 David Fisher, lecture at Plymouth Church on November 9, 2011.
  32. 32. 32 past as “writing chapters in the life of the church.”9 Many urban church leaders will be called to do this with the churches they are shepherding. Trinity Lutheran Church Trinity Lutheran Church may not have been a huge church in terms of current attendance, but Heidi Neumark is leading the church in some amazing ways in order to impact the community. This multicultural church attracts a diverse group of members by celebrating differences and embracing an empowering view of theology. The artwork that is prominently displayed throughout the old church building shows many different types of people worshipping in many different kinds of ways. I loved the murals that showed the history of the various people groups from the local neighborhood, and the neighborhood often changes so the artwork changes as well. The pastor works hard to connect with the congregation and the neighborhood. Neumark is also very creative with how she came to understand how to impact the community around the church. When the church doors kept getting tagged by local gangs, she finally got sick of painting over the graffiti so she started having the children in the church paint creatively on the front doors of the church every week for Sunday school. Soon, the tagging from gangs stopped and a thing of beauty and creativity emerged in the neighborhood. Many programs at the church have been designed to equip the diverse population that is a third white, a third black, and a third Latino, to reach out missionally into the community. This church was a great example of how historical churches can still thrive through such methods as arts integration, empowerment, cross- cultural ministry, and a missional focus. 9 David Fisher, lecture at Plymouth Church on November 9, 2011.
  33. 33. 33 Redeemer Presbyterian Church Our group of Bakke Graduate University students had high hopes for our time with Pastor Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church when we arrived at the church offices in high rise office building in Manhattan. I had heard many things about this church over the years, and I was also familiar with many of Keller’s books. One of the biggest takeaways from this time together was his concept of what is needed for Christians to engage the city. He told us, “If you want to reach a city, you must help each other across denominations and organizations by developing a layered gospel ecosystem.”10 There should be no solo missions or silos in urban ministry. The problems facing cities are too complex for solo missions, and difficult issues must be met with strong, intelligent responses that are multilayered with Christians working together. “Molded often by sin and sometimes by righteousness, cities form a totality of interweaving systems and subsystems, sometimes self-correcting, sometimes self- destructing. They are provisions of God’s common grace. Through them God restrains the development of evil, blesses his fallen creatures and works out his sovereign purposes in both judgment and grace. The city is an instrument of God’s preserving and preventative grace and an exhibition of our creaturely response to that grace.”11 The gospel ecosystem requires partnerships between church plants and established churches. The next ring of the ecosystem involves parachurch organizations that focus on prayer, specialty evangelism, justice and mercy initiatives, faith and work initiatives, institutions helping families stay in cities such as schools, theological training 10 Tim Keller, lecture at Redeemer Presbyterian Church offices on November 10, 2011. 11 Harvie Conn and Manuel Ortiz, Urban Ministry: The Kingdom, the City, & the People of God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 192.
  34. 34. 34 in the city, and getting together with churches to grow together. According to Keller, one of the byproducts of this approach is that you will kick up the dirt in urban neighborhoods and other churches and organizations will begin to move in. Redeemer does focus heavily on church planting, but they are also a multisite church. I was encouraged to see a church that emphasizes church planting and the multisite movement at the same time, as those strategies do not necessarily need to be opposed to one another. North Way East End The place where a church meets is very important, and North Way East End has a very strategic location right in the midst of one of the busiest intersections in the city of Pittsburgh. “At a time of unprecedented global urbanization, the issue of where we live out our witness has enormous consequences. Grand strategies to evangelize the world via megagatherings and satellite and other state-of-the-art communication methods may have their place. But the task of redeeming our cities will be accomplished on the ground, one block at a time, by courageous people who take the daily risks that bring life to their corner of the world.”12 There are plenty of places in Pittsburgh that may have been easier to establish a church, since the East Liberty neighborhood where the church is located is a complex, diverse area. East Liberty was once the third largest urban area in the state of Pennsylvania after downtown Philadelphia and downtown Pittsburgh. In the 1960s and 1970s, a busway was built that separated East Liberty from other key neighborhoods in the city. Also, the streets were rerouted, which cut off a flow of transportation to East Liberty. 12 Robert Lupton, Renewing the City: Reflections on Community Development and Urban Renewal (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 223.
  35. 35. 35 These logistical moves, which were intended by political officials to bring growth to East Liberty, actually had the opposite effect as nearly 1,000,000 square feet of commercial space was lost over the course of couple decades. A massive residential decline came as the jobs left, and the decline was furthered by urban blight and white flight during the 1970s and 1980s. After a long period of decline, East Liberty has started to make a significant transformation in the past ten to fifteen years. Much of the transformation has been controversial, however, as gentrification from bordering affluent urban neighborhoods and suburban people have moved back into the neighborhood. New national retail chains have begun to move into the neighborhood, while historical buildings that have been boarded up for many years have been purchased and are being restored. North Way East End will be gathering to worship in one such building called the Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre, which had been a performing arts theater built in the early 1900s. It was closed for many years but reopened within the past decade after an expensive restoration. The busway and layout of the streets, once a detriment to the neighborhood, are being redesigned to welcome traffic into the neighborhood. Hundreds of millions of dollars has been, and is being, invested into East Liberty. Many long time residents of East Liberty are not happy about the changes, and some people living in poverty have been forced out of parts of the neighborhood because they cannot afford to live or own a business there anymore. Nine other city neighborhoods surround East Liberty, including four traditionally African-American neighborhoods, several affluent neighborhoods, and a couple middle class neighborhoods with diverse, blue collar and artist populations. If you stand in the middle of East Liberty, you will see people walking and driving around in East Liberty
  36. 36. 36 who reflect the diversity of the surrounding neighborhoods. My vision for the church is that we are able to connect with people across cultures. There are also several other churches in the heart of East Liberty and in the surrounding neighborhoods, and I have been doing my best to introduce myself to each of the pastors. Contextualization will be crucial to the health of North Way East End. “The scandal of the Christian faith is that Jesus became a real person and spoke with a local accent. As Jesus takes up residence in our lives, our most intimate communion with him always takes on local color, language, values and lifestyle. The universality of Jesus Christ is real, of course, but so are our precious enculturated ‘habits of the heart’ in our devotion and service.”13 It will be important to understand the history and the culture of East Liberty in order to follow Jesus’ model of ministry. The following general concepts of urban ministry are being considered and implemented in the North Way East End campus. Arts Integration Many artists live and work in the East End of Pittsburgh, and as a church leadership team we should prepare to reach them with the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Part of the process of doing that involves integrating the arts into many different aspects of the church location. The performing arts theater where we will be gathering to worship already attracts many different types of artists. The North Way East End ministry center that is located right next to the theater contains nearly 6,000 square feet of space that can be used by the church for programs such as kids church, student ministries, small groups, and counseling. The ministry center space can also be used by the community where 13 Ray Bakke, A Theology as Big as the City (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 153.
  37. 37. 37 various artists will be welcomed to use it as creative space. When people enter the ministry center on Penn Avenue, the first thing they will see is a skyline painted on the walls and the landing leading down a set of stairs to the entrance lobby. I selected a skyline to give the immediate entrance an urban feel, avoiding the temptation to paint all of the waterfalls, trees, or sunsets that one sees on the covers of most of the books at the local Christian book store. Local artwork will be prominently displayed in the main lobby at the entrance to the ministry center, along the hallway to the church offices, and into a large multipurpose room that will serve as an art studio and creative space for local artists. An artist night has been planned for February, where local artists will be invited to the space and fed a gourmet dinner from our worship director who happens to also be a chef. We will provide the artists with materials such as canvases and paints, and we will ask them to create some works of art that we can display in the ministry center. We will invite local artists that represent the diversity in the neighborhood so that we can include a wide variety of perspectives. I am also hoping the fill different parts with the kinds of murals that were prominently displayed in the Trinity Lutheran Church building in New York. Arts integration will be a strong emphasis of the church campus in order to embrace the context of the community. “Art is a means of engaging our culture. It is important to create space that brings beauty and healing in the world.”14 For many, the arts are a deeply ingrained part of the Christian faith experience. “Artists often struggle with what it means to be a Christian and an artist. They are often outcast from both spaces. It is helpful to create a space in the middle where faith can also be sensory.”15 The 14 Bryan Horvath, lecture at International Arts Movement on November 10, 2011. 15 Bryan Horvath, lecture at International Arts Movement on November 10, 2011.
  38. 38. 38 North Way East End church presents an opportunity to create the space that is needed for local artistically inclined residents to be able to connect with the Lord. Global Missional Perspective People from many different cultures and countries live in the East End of Pittsburgh, partially because the new Pittsburgh economy has intentionally embraced a global worldview. The G-20 summit was held in Pittsburgh a couple years ago. Companies like Google and Westinghouse attract employees from all over the world. Local universities in the East End like the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University attract many international students, many of whom are settling into jobs as young professionals in Pittsburgh. The North Way East End launch team, which currently consists of over 125 people, represents people from many different nationalities. I noticed in New York City that the Christian Cultural Center painted the word “Welcome” in many different languages around the main entrance to the sanctuary. In the North Way East End ministry center, we are painting the main entrance in the lobby with “Welcome” in many different languages. When people first step foot into the ministry center they may truly feel welcomed into a diverse environment. Similar to many of the churches that I visited in New York, the East End ministry center will have its own global room with an interactive map of the world focused on the many partnerships that North Way has developed with global missionaries and organizations over the past thirty years. Communication is a good component of any global missions strategy, and right now many of the people attending North Way church locations seem to be somewhat disconnected with the global missions strategy because they do not know who we are
  39. 39. 39 partnered with. Part of the advantage of launching a new campus is that we will be small and nimble enough to be able to communicate effectively about our global mission partners. Utilizing technology, a computer will be connected to a flat screen television that will have interactive information about the global partners. God’s global mission will be an important part of the North Way East End church. Randy White points out that “the implications of globalization are more than economic. They are also cultural. Globalization facilitates religious and cultural pluralism in cities through migration, trade and increased interaction via technology.”16 We have the opportunity to reach many people with the gospel message who have come to Pittsburgh from many different cities and countries, and we have the opportunity to travel to other places to join the work that the Holy Spirit is doing globally. “We need to create a missions culture in our cities by creating structures and systems to reach unreached people groups.”17 The missional strategy is important for the people globally who may be impacted, but the missional church also goes a long way toward increasing the process of transformation in the people attending the North Way East End church. “If the fullness of the gospel is to have redemptive impact on the city, it must penetrate into every strata of urban life. Strange, isn’t it, how we feel called to a mission of saving others, only to discover that the calling ends up being at least as much about our own salvation?”18 Prayer and Reflection 16 Randy White, Encounter God in the City: Onramps to Personal and Community Transformation (Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2006), 171. 17 Chris Clayman, lecture at MNYBA on November 7, 2011. 18 Robert Lupton, Renewing the City: Reflections on Community Development and Urban Renewal (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 226.
  40. 40. 40 Several of the churches we visited in New York created space and margin for prayer and reflection. These components of the Christian faith are often overlooked by modern churches, but they should not be neglected as expressions of worship and a means of connecting with God. “As pastors, we need to lead people to pray. Prayer is absolutely crucial to the church. A pastor can gage the success of a church by who shows up to pray.”19 A prayer and reflection area will be established in the far end of the North Way East End ministry center. This quiet space will be available to members of the church or community who are looking for a quiet space to connect with the Lord. My hope is that it will be utilized as I follow Jim Cymbala’s example in the leading the church to pray. Reflection involves taking the time to be quiet and listen. “Listening is the key to transformation.”20 All of the leaders in the East End community will be encouraged to use the quiet space regularly. The elders will gather to pray frequently. The North Way East End prayer team may not be as large as the 400 people that pray around the clock in the Brooklyn Tabernacle, but we do have a group of nearly 100 people from across the North Way campuses who have committed to pray for the East End and the new church location throughout the launch season and into the coming year. “True hope for the future of the inner city is grounded in prayer.”21 Embracing Innovation and Technology Many of the churches we visited in New York worked hard to integrate 19 Jim Cymbala, lecture at Brooklyn Tabernacle on November 8, 2011. 20 Heidi Neumark, lecture at Trinity Lutheran Church on November 10, 2011. 21 Mark Gornik, To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2002), 118.
  41. 41. 41 technology and innovation into driving the kingdom vision. North Way East End has a launch budget of just over $500,000, and nearly $200,000 of that budget is being spent on innovative technology that will help to spread the gospel. Christians do not need to shy away from innovating. “There is an elitist trend among evangelicals, and we should be focusing on innovators instead of elites.”22 In the performing arts theater, we are installing three video projection machines, a state of the art sound system, and amazing lighting, and new technology will be utilized throughout the ministry center, as well. The interesting thing about this approach is that we are partnering with the performing arts theater to help them advance their mission to increase local arts in the community. We are leasing the space, and we are dramatically upgrading the technology in the theater along the way. If the partnership develops effectively, this could be a big win for both North Way and the performing arts theater in terms of reaching the community and being assets in the city working together toward increasing levels of shalom. Intentional Diversity As part of this project, I hired a diverse staff to lead the North Way East End campus. My associate pastor is a strong African-American pastor and leader in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the predominantly African-American neighborhood where I live and have worked for the past six years with the LAMP mentoring program. He and I had known each other from our work with kids in Homewood, and I am excited to see how God is going to work through us to reach many people across cultures in Pittsburgh. Several other members of the leadership team are 22 Tony Carnes, lecture at Seh Moon Baptist Church in Woodside on November 7, 2011.
  42. 42. 42 African-American, as well. I am committed to having a leadership team that reflects the diversity in the East End. “Churches in the city must figure out how to authentically connect with many different kinds of people. This especially includes intentional multicultural leadership development. A great example is the church in Antioch in Acts 13:1, which had an international pastor team consisting of two Africans, two Asians, and a European. This was the first multicultural church that we know of, and it was also the church that invented foreign missions.”23 We are also developing a cross-cultural worship experience at North Way East End. I brought in a worship director who is committed to moving us past the contemporary Christian music style that has been traditionally done at North Way in order to bring gospel, jazz, soul, indie rock, classical music, and hymns into the worship experience in the East End. Many different people are speaking into the process of developing the music style that will reach many different kinds of people. One challenge has been identifying singers and musicians who are able to perform the different music styles, including shifts in music genres within the same Sunday morning music set. Hospitality In New York I was greeted warmly while worshipping at Bethel Gospel Assembly, and our entire class was blown away by the hospitality we experienced at Christian Cultural Center. Both pastors mentioned that they paid considerable attention to warmly welcoming people to church. I left New York determined to develop a culture of hospitality in the East End that would be truly welcoming to any person that happens to set foot at our church. After all, we should be excited to welcome people to church. “The 23 Ray Bakke, lecture at MNYBA on November 7, 2011.
  43. 43. 43 gospel is not advice. The gospel is news. Good news. The gospel empowers!”24 The hospitality team at North Way East End has been trained to serve as ambassadors who greet people as soon as they arrive at the church. This is especially important considering that we are a new church meeting in an old, historic performing arts theater with adjacent ministry center space that at one time was used as retail space. The church does not necessarily look like a traditional church building. Our hospitality team will be developing relationships, answering questions, and helping with the process of getting people connected and building community right from the first impression. We will be serving coffee and feeding people in the lobby of the theater as well. The point is to welcome people effectively into the church, and little details matter. That concept really stood out to me from my time visiting churches in New York City. 24 Ray Bakke, lecture at MNYBA on November 8, 2011.
  44. 44. 44 Emphasize Relationships It will be crucial in the North Way East End campus, with so much going on in the midst of the launch, that we maintain our emphasis on relationships. “Ninety percent of people in cities come to Christ through relationships, not programs.”25 Programs can be helpful, but at the end of the day programs seem to get lost in the sea of activity that goes on in cities. During strategic planning meetings, I have taken the opportunity to focus on the importance of getting away from our computer screens and getting out into the community to walk around and get to know people. We have done tons of prayer walking, with a lens on building relationships with people that we meet as we prayer walk in the city. It has been challenging to relationally connect with all of the people on the North Way East End launch team, so we set up five home meetings throughout the month of January with no other agenda than to simply build relationships with one another as we prepare to launch the new church campus. The goals behind relationship-building are rooted in the Bible and ministry of Jesus Christ. “Effective urban ministry practitioners are able to look beyond statistics into the lives of people. Theory must be married with street engagement. This is difficult because the issues are real and generational.”26 When building a new church, it is important to understand what the people are seeking in an urban environment with many different churches. “Everyone is searching for love, not doctrinal positions.”27 People do not usually experience the love of Christ through programs. They experience the love of 25 Ray Bakke, lecture at MNYBA on November 7, 2011. 26 Janice McLain, lecture at City Seminary in Harlem on November 8, 2011. 27 Jim Cymbala, lecture at Brooklyn Tabernacle on November 8, 2011.
  45. 45. 45 God through relationships. Authentic Community A main wall by the café in the Christian Cultural Center in New York City prominently displayed a hand-painted section of Bible verses from Acts 2:42-47. The verses were displayed in order to remind everyone about the mission and vision of the early church, and how that same mission and vision can inspire us today to truly live out authentic Christian community. “The great gift of Jewish culture was community. The great gift of Greek culture was the individual. Christianity bridges the Old Testament and the New Testament so that communities and individuals are brought together. That is corporate solidarity.”28 From a biblical perspective, authentic community involves such things as strong teaching, fellowship, communion, prayer, generosity, worshipping together, sharing meals, praising God, and enjoying each other’s goodwill. The East End campus embraces the biblical values of authentic community, and that will be important because we will draw people from affluent urban and suburban neighborhoods and also people from low income urban and suburban neighborhoods. It can be challenging to build authentic community across socioeconomic people groups and across races, but that is just what we are setting out to do at North Way East End. There is no reason why the church attendees should not be able to build authentic community together if we plan. “Corporate solidarity means the rich suburbs are a part of our family, and poor inner city residents are a part of our family.”29 The Holy Spirit is able to accomplish this type of authentic community that transcends many of the 28 Ray Bakke, lecture at MNYBA on November 8, 2011. 29 Ray Bakke, lecture at MNYBA on November 8, 2011.
  46. 46. 46 traditional boundaries that separate people in Pittsburgh. My goal as a pastor in the East End is to be a bridge builder and reconciler across cultures, even when then process is especially difficult. The church should be leading the way in building community, not dragging behind while only choosing to spend time with people in our own silos. Conclusion God is on mission to redeem the world, and our purpose in developing the North Way East End campus in an urban environment in Pittsburgh is to join that mission. Beyond the basics of the mission, this course in New York City has taught me that there are many different ways to contextualize the gospel message of Jesus Christ depending on the uniqueness of cities and neighborhoods. The context of the church in the East End will involve arts integration, a global missional perspective, prayer and reflection, embracing innovation and technology, intentional diversity, hospitality, relationships, and authentic community. All of these ideas are being designed and will be implemented in order to help people connect with God. I have shared the vision for the East End campus with many people, and there is a growing excitement and anticipation going on. The executive leadership team and elder council at North Way Christian Community have fully supported the East End campus launch and the mission and vision. Solid, biblical teaching, strong worship, and healthy small groups will always be a consistent part of North Way regardless of the church location. Yet, there is plenty of room for campus pastors to shape each location according to the needs of the community. The East End location will be the fourth North Way campus, and a fifth campus is planned to open in 2014. Beyond that, the leadership team at North Way has set a goal to open at least one new church campus every year. Within
  47. 47. 47 five to ten years, there may be many more North Way urban church campuses. This North Way East End launch may go a long way toward opening up doors into other communities in the city. On a personal level, this course in New York City has helped me to be a more effective pastor in Pittsburgh. Upon returning to Pittsburgh, I was rejuvenated to continue to build the relationships that I have been working for the past six years in Homewood. Also, I am being very intentional about being led by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. I am looking forward to an exciting year of urban ministry in 2012.
  48. 48. CHAPTER 4 SELF-EVALUATION I am so glad that I selected this New York City Urban Immersion course as my last class at Bakke Graduate University in the Doctor of Ministry program. I had been greatly anticipating spending time with Ray Bakke and new friends in one of the most amazing cities in the world, and the actual experience exceeded the expectations. All of the foundational components of urban ministry and transformational leadership that I learned about in the overture courses provided a great context for the learning that took place in the streets and neighborhoods of New York. Each new city brings new perspectives and new challenges, and still I learned many transferable principles and unique insights along the journey. One of the learning outcomes listed in the syllabus for this course involved understanding the strengths and limitations of entrepreneurial urban church models. That topic appealed greatly to me as I have anticipated the launch of the North Way East End campus in the city of Pittsburgh. The church launch is a challenge that involves bridging history and something new. I was able to learn so much from the many different models of church that we experienced during this course. The Christian Cultural Center and Brooklyn Tabernacle experiences were particularly helpful, as we had the opportunity to spend time with the entrepreneurial founding pastors who remained committed to innovation while leading many people to connect with Christ. As always, the emphasis on transformational relationships between urban churches and public and private institutions was a highlight of the course. Partnerships 48
  49. 49. 49 between churches and institutions can be very difficult. I know that first hand with the LAMP mentoring initiative in Pittsburgh. I was encouraged to hear about the many organizations that the churches we visited in New York were partnering with around a whole range of issues such as at-risk youth, employment, and housing. I always enjoy the opportunity to glimpse into the unique workings of institutions and partnerships in cities. I loved learning about the role of the arts in communicating Gospel truth and transformation, and what better place to learn about that subject than New York City? It seemed as though every place we went seemed to integrate the arts into the mission in one way or another. I enjoyed the murals in Trinity Lutheran Church just as much as I loved the amazing artwork that was prominently displayed throughout the Christian Cultural Center. Makoto Fujimura’s studio was a fascinating place to learn, and I gained some incredible insight from the staff about how to support artists and encourage people in their more sensory expressions of faith. The time spent with Jim Cymbala represented well the innovative perspectives and strategies on leadership that most appropriately and contextually equip the Church to function with missional and incarnational integrity in an urbanizing society. I will never forget how Spirit-led he was, and how he encouraged us to be ourselves and lead well in complex urban environments. In his own way, AR Bernard profoundly impacted me as a pastor and leader. His vision for urban ministry was contagious, and he is an example of someone who God has uniquely designed for his calling. I really enjoyed Ray Bakke’s lectures, and will miss being able to hear his fresh perspectives and thoughts on a consistent basis. The lecture about Paul’s urban adventures in Acts was particularly helpful for me as I seek to contextualize the Gospel
  50. 50. 50 message in Pittsburgh in the urban environment where God has called me. Ray’s insight was a joy at each of the places we visited. It was great getting to know so many new friends who attended this class with me. The pastors from the multisite church in Chicago were particularly fun to be around, and I learned a lot from each of them about multisite ministry, community outreach, working with at-risk youth, and big vision for cities. They were just so encouraging. I would have loved to have the entire pastoral staff at North Way in Pittsburgh go through some of these urban immersion courses with me. That would have led to a lot of transformation over time. Since I need to assign myself a grade for this course, I would give myself an “A” because I completed each of the assignments and I participated well in the course. I was engaged with the material, and even though I have had a lot of experience with classes at Bakke Graduate University I went away from the course with much new material. The reading was enjoyable, I was disciplined to do the journal while I was in New York each evening, and the project was fun because it applied directly to what I was doing in leading North Way East End. I also learned many new things that will be helping the work that is going on with LAMP and incarnationally with families in Homewood. I am so grateful for this culminating experience in the doctorate program.
  51. 51. BIBLIOGRAPHY Applegate, Debby. The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher. New York: Doubleday, 2006. Bakke, Ray. A Theology as Big as the City. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997. Conn, Harvie and Manuel Ortiz. Urban Ministry: The Kingdom, the City, and the People of God. Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001. Gornik, Mark. To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2002. Lupton, Robert. Renewing the City: Reflections on Community Development and Urban Renewal. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005. White, Randy. Encounter God in the City: Onramps to Personal and Community Transformation. Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2006. 51

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