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Posts Tagged ‘cities’

A Brazilian seminary student and I traveled to Boston and New York for a series of meetings with Christian leaders in the Spring of 2008.  We saw and heard something of the transformation that is taking place in American cities, changes on an order not felt since the Great Society legislation of the late 60’s and early 70’s.  Many of “the Projects” are being bulldozed and the urban poor dispersed.Some among the working poor, who can afford it, are moving to suburban counties (often to apartments or trailer parks) to take advantage of comparatively lower rents and better public schools.  Some among the working poor find housing in larger cities that require new developments and renovations to provide a percentage of “affordable housing units.”  Sadly, in our contracting and shifting economy, many others are falling into joblessness and homelessness.  While properties have been bought in many depressed urban areas, development plans have now slowed considerably due to the bust in the housing market.  

Urban blight and pockets of severe poverty still exist, especially in cities like St Louis and New Orleans that have yet to solve intractable problems in their public schools. Political infighting between city, regional, state and union interests are exacerbated often by shrinking state and local revenues.

Immigrant populations that mushroomed in the 1990s are starting to shrink as post 9/11 restrictions tighten the renewal of visas and other necessary documents like Driver’s Licenses, and as the US Dollar has declined in value against foreign currencies. One area of modest influx has been among the refugee populations from the Balkan conflict of the 90s and the ongoing challenges on the African continent. Noticeably absent, refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 2010 Census will only confirm what we already know, retiring Baby Boomers will pressure entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare to cut benefits and expand tax brackets.  Greater attention will have to be given to the aging segment of our populace.  The old WASP majority will disappear by 2050 as American culture diversifies ethnically, due in part to the rapid rise of the Hispanic voting block.

This social stirring presents unprecedented opportunties for the church to bridge and broker relationships of grace.  As the acceleration of social fragmentation, family breakdown and economic contraction augments social pain, people and their leaders will be looking for help.  Will we, God’s people in local churches, add value to our communities?  It will be costly.  Love always is.

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