In April of this year OneChurch entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Street Church and Steve Edwards, their pastor. Pastor Steve and I had been working together in the downtown neighborhood of Hampton for about a year before this. During this time I mentored Steve in the basic principles of ABCD. We conducted listening surveys while we ministered to the Harbor Square Apartment residents, a low-income community.
During the winter months of 2011-2012 Steve and I met with others who helped with our Street Church efforts earlier in 2011. The apartments were condemned and the citizens relocated during these winter months. This led us to our MOU and the formation of a thirteen-member team whose purpose is to apply ABCD practices in a neighborhood bordering the apartment complex.
In June we began our neighborhood listening efforts through a block party, attendance at a neighborhood association’s monthly meetings where we shared the principles of ABCD, community canvassing, meetings with the city neighborhood commissioners, and reaching out to meet with members and leaders of several churches in the community. We have been well received and have begun building key relationships in this neighborhood.
Through our listening efforts we learned that a key frustration among the association members, citizens, and church leaders was that although there were many members of the community interested in seeing the development of their neighborhood, there was very little active participation in their separate efforts to these ends. An obvious symptom of this was that each groups was trying to promote their programs to the citizens who, by and large, ignored them, as did the other groups.
Through the relationships we have been developing and by being seen as trusted and caring citizens ourselves, the leaders of these groups have been willing to come together at our request to work together to address their frustrations.
This led to a collaborative effort of communicating the church and community programs to the community through a single community newsletter that is being distributed on the first Saturday of each month door-to-door by representatives of the various groups.This coming together to work together on something they all care deeply about is the first tangible sign that they are moving from cooperation to collaboration.