The New City Initiative
JOIN: Connecting the Street to a Home
The New City Initiative is a proposal to explore how classical models of Christian community and philanthropy can inform contemporary efforts of faith communities to engage with people experiencing poverty, hunger, and homelessness; and, simultaneously, how our understanding of historic Christian texts on philanthropy may be deepened and enriched when they are read together in a non-academic setting by communities that seek to include both poor and non-poor members. This project will bring together elements of my academic research for my new book, St. Basil the Great: On Social Justice (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2009), and my practical and pastoral experience in developing CUSINA, a successful three-year program at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Portland, Oregon, offering Greek cooking classes for people transitioning out of homelessness. The aim of the Initiative is to engage eight to ten diverse faith communities in the Portland area in the year 2010 that will serve as centers for reflection on Basil of Caesarea's vision of the “New City,” using texts, study guides, and discussion questions developed for this purpose. Out of this reflection, each community will be invited to develop a project for engaging with people experiencing homelessness, modeled on Basil's New City while also expressing the unique “genius” of that community. The Initiative will culminate in a written project that will include first person narratives, artistic expressions, collaborative reflections on historic texts, and analysis of outcomes. The New City Initiative is undertaken as an innovative partnership between JOIN, a non-profit agency supporting people experiencing homelessness in their efforts to acquire stable, long-term housing, and Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, a statewide association of Christian denominations (including Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox bodies), congregations, ecumenical organizations and interfaith partners.
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