April 18, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Suzy Keenan
The Rev. John Culp (left) discusses Shalom Zone work with Bishop John Schol.
By Suzy Keenan*
(UMNS)—The United Methodist Church’s Shalom Zone ministries would have
impressed Methodism’s 18th century founder, according to church leaders.
think John Wesley would have liked Shalom," said the Rev. John Culp,
referring to the Communities of Shalom initiative, as the National
Shalom Committee reviewed the ministry March 30-31.
a South Carolina pastor and new committee member, was impressed with
Shalom’s biblical emphasis and its results in congregations and
communities across the United States and in Zimbabwe and Ghana.
more than 300 Shalom ministries work to transform negative forces
within their communities into positive actions for shalom, or peace.
Their focuses include spiritual renewal, economic development, health,
healing and strengthening race, class and cultural relationships.
and rural communities alike have embraced Shalom goals and principles,"
said Bishop John R. Schol, who leads the denomination’s
Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. "Shalom brings the church into
the community and the community into the church. Shalom is scriptural,
and it’s the way in which we live out the Wesleyan principle that the
world is our parish. For this reason, Shalom is truly timeless."
Communities of Shalom initiative was organized through the United
Methodist Board of Global Ministries. The national committee, led by
Schol, gathered in Philadelphia to assess its progress and set goals and
direction for the next four years.
The initiative took
root at the 1992 General Conference, following the acquittal of four
white Los Angeles police officers in the beating of black motorist
Rodney King. Schol recalled that, as fires from street violence burned
in South Central Los Angeles, General Conference business halted and
delegates prayed and fasted for the Lord’s vision of hope. The
Communities of Shalom was born out of that prayer and fasting.
|A UMNS file photo by Larry Hygh
mural, �A Beacon of Hope,� graces a wall at the Rakestraw Community
Education Center in South Central Los Angeles, the site of a Shalom
to affordable, decent housing, to a living wage, to good schools and
education, to health care, to creative outlets—these are what makes your
community livable; all these things are Shalom," said the Rev. Robin
Hynicka, a team member and former director of the Frankford Group
Ministry, one of more than 300 communities of Shalom in 44 annual
conferences around the world.
observe a model community of Shalom, 14 members of the national team
visited the Frankford Group Ministry, located in the working-class
neighborhood of Frankford and surrounding areas in lower Northeast
ministry, now directed by the Rev. Catherine Bowers, unites four United
Methodist congregations in ministry. Some of their programs include
youth leadership development, partnering with the Frankford Community
Development Corp. to build affordable housing, and working with a Muslim
association to create community celebrations of diverse cultures and
faiths. The ministry also has brought back nearly $1 million into the
hands of low-income residents by helping them take advantage of the
Earned Income Tax Credit on their income-tax returns.
keeping with the United Methodist Igniting Ministry campaign,
Communities of Shalom open doors for people to come in, but also open
the doors of our churches for us to walk out into our immediate
community, so we are in partnership in creating a more whole community,"
Hynicka said. "This makes for a more whole congregation as well."
The team reviewed
established goals for Communities of Shalom based on the Old Testament
concept of the shalom community from Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7, and the New
Testament understanding of the kingdom of God. Those goals are to renew
the spirit of God in the church and the community; develop the
prosperity and economy of communities; strengthen race, class and
cultural relationships; and improve community health care and
coordination of social services.
|A UMNS photo by Suzy Keenan
The Rev. Dorothy Watson Tatem (red hat) addresses the National Shalom Committee during its Philadelphia meeting.
for establishing Shalom in communities are based on proven strategies:
witnessing to the transforming power of God through community action;
focusing on church and community strengths rather than problems; working
with churches, businesses, community organizations, residents and
governmental agencies; and addressing the systems that create poverty.
The committee identified objectives to:
Shalom sites by evaluating and updating resources, including goals and
strategies, training programs and manuals, conference coordinator
manuals, grants and summits, as well as re-energizing sites.
- Strengthen the partnership among the general church/National Shalom Committee, annual conferences and local sites.
and resource the staff for general oversight and administration of the
Shalom Initiative, local training, conference coordinators and the
Community Investment Foundation.
- Develop a financial plan for greater self-sufficiency.
Shalom movement has made great progress during the last 12 years, as
well as tested different ideas for resourcing and staffing," Schol said.
"It is clear that we must build on our past and identify how the Shalom
movement will equip and maintain Shalom sites for the future."
More details are available from Deanna Martinez, Board of Global Ministries, at (212) 870-3711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Keenan is director of communications for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.