Many of you have already heard the exciting news that River City is going to have a new home next summer at 3707 W Grand, which is located in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood. It will be a hybrid community development center/church, and we are incredibly excited about what this is going to represent for us. We are right across the street from Cameron Elementary, our partner school in the neighborhood, and look forward to mutually supporting the nearly 1,000 children represented there.
The journey of landing at this space has been an exciting one, and it has been filled with many twists and turns. One of the most unexpected blessings came in the form of an environmental grant for nearly $400,000 dollars that we received from Illinois Clean Energy. The grant will provide us with state-of-the-art geothermal and solar energy, and we are already dreaming about the possibility of approaching a net zero environmental impact. The ramifications of this are significant, and we interpreted this as one of the real signs from God that we are hearing clearly and following obediently in the right direction.
Last Sunday (September 9th) was our 9 year anniversary, and to celebrate we had a short service in the raw, unfinished space. It was an absolute blast, and gave us a chance to have a shared experience in the space before construction begins next month.
I am going to do a series of blogs over the next 3 weeks sharing the vision that led us to this space, and before beginning those I figured I should create an initial blog showing some of the pictures, so that you can see the before and after!
I am a lifelong Chicagoan, a pastor at River City Community Church, and an author who writes a lot about resisting and confronting white supremacy from a faith lens.
Our church was founded in January of 2003 in the west Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, and is centered on the core values of worship, reconciliation, and neighborhood development. We long to see increased spiritual renewal as well as social and economic justice in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and entire city, demonstrating compassion and alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the Kingdom of God. It is also through the gift of this faith community that I have learned to see the profound historical and spiritual impact of the stronghold of white supremacy, and where I have been challenged to broaden and deepen my understanding of discipleship in the hopes of becoming a serious enough Christ follower who is able to meaningfully participate with those who have risen up in defiance of this evil principality.
The lessons learned in this journey have been captured in a pair of books on race. The first, White Awake, explores the barriers that white people tend to face – white Christians specifically – when we attempt to awaken to and understand white supremacy through a faith lens. I spend a lot of time here addressing the internal defenses that are bound to go off when this journey is taken seriously, and I chart out a path for developing a resilient spirit that steadfastly moves towards truth, justice, and equity. The second, White Lies, further builds out the path for the white Christian who longs to actively participate in the resistance and confrontation of white supremacy. I spend a lot of time here exploring why it is so hard to tell the truth about race, as well as expose the lies that sustain it, within white, Christian, Bible-believing environments. I then propose nine practices that position us for engaging in this task.
On the personal front, my career started in the marketplace, as I was part of three dot.com startups in the 90’s. My vocational path shifted when I joined the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in 1998, and I spent five years working there. I started River City Community Church in January 2003 and have been happily serving here ever since. On the education front, my undergrad was in Business (Purdue University), my graduate degree in theology (Moody Bible Institute), and my doctoral degree in community development (Northern Seminary). On the family front, my wife is a Professor of Psychology, and we have two amazing children (Xander and Gabriella).
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