Reweaving the Fabric: How Congregations and Communities Can Come Together to Build Their Neighborhoods

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9781881320500: Reweaving the Fabric: How Congregations and Communities Can Come Together to Build Their Neighborhoods

Reweaving the Fabric is an inspiring before-and-after tale of how a church and the surrounding community came together to change a decaying Birmingham neighborhood that everyone was ready to write off as hopeless.

It was anything but hopeless, because the pastor of the local Bethel AME Church had a vision. Reweaving the Fabric describes the victorious urban renewal which was spearheaded by Reverend Nored and shares information on how the planning was done, partnerships were created, and money was raised. In the end, Reweaving the Fabric documents a textbook case of faith, civic involvement, institutional partnerships, and creative thinking.

Says Andrew Young, "Reverend Ron Nored's book, Reweaving the Fabric, is a documentation of how concerned citizens can cause a miracle to happen."

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From the Author:

Reweaving the torn fabric of the former Sandy Bottom community - rent by the brokenness, distrust, neglect, hopelessness, and despair - has been a very challenging, yet gratifying experience. It has expanded my understanding of what it means to have faith and strengthened my commitment as a pastor to a ministry that is rooted in justice, compassion, and hope.

Carving out a relevant, inclusive, and community-directed ministry which produces tangible and intangible results is tough work - very tough! This type of ministry requires an incredible degree of faith, determination, and personal commitment. It cannot be done if leaders and participants are not willing to trust the abilities, gifts, and leadership of others, both inside and outside the local church and neighborhood.

Everyone, regardless of race, ethnic origin, or social and economic status, has something special and useful to bring to the table of ideas and opportunity. Creating opportunities for each person to contribute to the meaningful working relationship between individuals and organizations is the essence of community-directed ministry.

I have worked with many pastors and neighborhoods engaged in the reweaving process. Initially, there is always a great deal of excitement and hope among the leaders and participants, but as challenging issues emerge - issues ranging from personality conflicts to frustrating lack of rapid, tangible results - many become disillusioned and quit. However, thanks be to God, several church and neighborhood leaders have not given up the fight! Positive change will occur in these communities, just as it has in Sandy Vista!

That is what faith and church are all about. They are about persevering and defying the odds. They are about transformation and resurrection, not only in the lives of individuals but in entire communities as well. That is why it is important for churches to make rebuilding community a priority once again. Destructive social, economic, and political forces have all but ripped apart the very fabric of our communities, shattering the hopes and dreams of our neighbors. These forces leave in their wake dysfunctional families, children at risk, economic despair, and a growing sense of hopelessness that things will never change.

For too long, the church has been in a rather reactive mode, mourning the state of our neighborhoods but, in many cases, depending exclusively on government and other agencies and institutions to "fix the problems." There is a very important role that these entities can and should play. But any strategy that does not directly engage the active participation of people from within the needy neighborhoods cannot lead to the human development or social and economic transformation that is sorely needed in our troubled communities. Ultimately, the neighborhood must be in charge of the process. For that to happen, someone must take the lead in gathering the community and organizing its members to trust each other and work together. The local congregation can and should do this. It is what we are called by the gospel to do.

The problems facing our neighborhoods are complex and require a major infusion of human and monetary resources to improve physical and economic conditions. However, I have learned through the BEAT experience that it is not enough for the church to build new houses or community centers, or develop new businesses and other tangible signs of progress, if there is not a deliberate and concentrated focus on building community. The church must promote creation of a process that enables others to respect, cherish, and value our interdependency and shared vision, hopes, dreams and values. In the final analysis, this is what the BEAT process is about - reweaving the fabric of our shared humanity into a viable community where all can live in dignity and in hope.

Achieving this goal is never solely about developing a product, a house, or a program; nor is it about making a political statement. It is not about building the reputation or ego of the leaders. Rather, it is about people talking, planning and caring about one another again. It is about neighbors being neighbors, house by house, block by block, church by church, community by community.

From the Back Cover:

A Powerful, Triumphant Story of Faith and Works

How the members of a small church in Birmingham became motivated to change their community and how they inspired others to join with them is a textbook case of faith, civic involvement, institutional partnerships, and creative thinking.

The good news is that other communities can do the same thing, and this book tells them how.

The story is told by the Rev. Ron Nored, a quiet but determined African Methodist Episcopal minister. First, he walks readers through the decaying neighborhood of Sandy Bottom, with its high unemployment, boarded up storefronts, substandard housing, drugs, and crime. Then he shows how the community made a pact and a plan for change. Eight years later, the neighborhood is renamed Sandy Vista, and the shotgun houses have been replaced by new single-family dwellings, the vacant lots have been replaced by parks, new sidewalks and street lights are in place, and youth and jobs programs are at work.

Nored tells step-by-step how the planning was done, how the partnerships were created, how the goals were set and monitored, and how the inevitable setbacks were addressed and overcome. An appendix provides helpful planning documents and other resources which can be studied and adapted for use in other communities.

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Nored, Ronald E.
Published by Black Belt Press (1999)
ISBN 10: 1881320502 ISBN 13: 9781881320500
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