4. Relationship to Other Churches

Explicitly Connected

Oak Park Community
By: Bobby Wright

We actually live in an old church. The church was built in 1914, and over the last hundred years it has had multiple congregations utilizing it. Our neighborhood in the 50′s and 60′s suffered from a mass exodus of white working class families, who were convinced by real estate agents that they needed to move because of the increase of black families moving into the neighborhood. So along with the neighborhood, churches were abandoned and congregations were moved to the suburbs. Our church transitioned rather quickly from an all white congregation to an all black congregation. From the stories that we hear the neighborhood was a wonderful place for many years in the 70′s and early 80′s. But when violence and crime began to rise, black families began to move out of the neighborhood as well. A few, however, would continue to drive back into the neighborhood on Sundays and Wednesdays to attend their church. Slowly the church lost most of it’s connection to the neighborhood that it was located in. Today, the church we live in could probably hold 600 people but the congregation is small, maybe 40 people at the most. When we were looking for neighborhoods to move into we stopped by this church to talk to the pastor, and right away he told us that he had lots of extra space and that if we wanted, we could move into the church. So we did. Without getting into too much detail, we attend the weekly worship gatherings, and Sunday school. These times have been both challenging and wonderful. And while we feel welcome and at home in this congregation, one major struggle with is the separation of the church from the neighborhood and our neighbors, who we love and are with throughout the week. We have made it a point to invite both friends from the neighborhood and friends from the church whenever we host our weekly meals or gatherings. In the mean time, we will keep praying, and struggling, and loving, and hoping for the body of Christ to be one in our neighborhood and the world.

Below is a list of potential key topics/ideas we hope to comprehensively cover via stories from practitioners here on Community Cookbook.

  1. Explicitly Connected
  2. Informally Connected
  3. Explicitly Not Connected
  4. Functions as a Church

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