Clergy and community leaders from around the Gulf Region participated in a one-day workshop, titled Community Development and Transformation, convened by the Faith & Community Development Institute & Desire Street Ministries. Twenty-four leaders participated in group discussions and were given tools to engage churches and neighborhood organizations in community rebuilding.
Although traditional methods of community missions have some merit, each participant was introduced to Asset Based Community Development & Communities First tools. A primary objective of the workshop was to begin conversations about moving from short-term community relief work to long-term engagement that can help empower their neighborhoods for positive change.
For Pastor David Jones, of Jackson, Mississippi, education in community restructuring and reformation is vital. Jones, pastor of House of Joy and Praise located in Doodleville, a small neighborhood inside of Jackson, attended the workshop in hopes of gathering information necessary to restore the area in which he pastors. According to Jones, “problems with crime, lack of health care and recreational facilities for area youth have long plagued the neighborhood. Because of this, the community is unstable and in almost constant distress. We are planning a community health clinic to address some of those needs, but I feel there is more to it than just a health clinic.”
Workshop attendee Aimee George attended the workshop for two purposes. She attended for her church and as the Jefferson Parish Community Development Block Grants Administrator. Aimee said, “As a Block Grant Administrator, I see how organizations get grants to do programs, but once the money runs out(in most cases within a year) the program completely shuts down or ends. My usual thought processes for them closing was about the basic struggles of running programs. They either lacked the resources, organizational capacity, or leadership wasn’t effective. But know I see that people and institutions need to shift their methods to an asset approach.”