1. There are two communities in this neighborhood:
Community 1. The Saratoga Apartments (low income housing).
Community 2. A surrounding middle-class/lower middle-class neighborhood.
There is a good deal of animosity between the two communities. Community 2 (and I am generalizing here) sees community 1. as the primary source of low property values and high crime. Community 1 seems to resent community 2.
2. Question: Should God give us the grace and provision to remain in our present location how might we fulfill our threefold mission to 1. proclaim the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ 2. nurture and disciple new believers, teaching them to obey Christ's commands, and 3. serve the poor?
3. Overall vision: One community serving Christ and one another.
Jesus Christ can heal the divisions that exist between community 1 and community 2 and redeem the neigborhood. Should it be God's will that we remain here, we will seek to be the agents of his work. We will do that first and foremost by sharing the gospel in word and deed. that means proactively working to involve the neighborhood in Good Shepherd's bible studies, worship, and outreach programs. Secondly, we will create opportunities for interaction between the two communities in the contexts of service and of fun. Third, we will work to improve the material lives of those living in the Saratoga Apts.
4. Implementation: First three months; first three steps:
I. Create 4 teams of no more than three and no less than two (including at least one able-bodied man) to go door to door in both communities introducing Good Shepherd, our services and the outreach programs, and asking our neighbors what kind of services and/or programs they think most needed in the area.
II. Reestablish the Shepherd's Bowl soup kitched...advertise in the newspaper, tv, and neigborhood signs and flyers. Invite members of both communities to participate as servers and/or as guests.
III. Organize at least one major neighborhood event or festival (perhaps a Spring festival) designed to draw interest from and promote constructive interraction between members of both communities
...of course, this is only a preliminary sketch based on the discussion at this Sunday's Annual Meeting and it is utterly contingent upon God's desiring Good Shepherd us to remain at St. Andrew's...all the same it is, at least to me, an exciting vision. God willing, we can do good work here.