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    The City of God for American Cities: Reinventing the Urban Church™ (Conference) Douglass M. Bailey, Doug Bailey leads this annual conference, offering an intense, five-day immersion into the issues critical for urban congregations in all denominations. This "learning laboratory" includes visits to urban ministries and conversation with urban ministry leaders and scholars from across the country.

    Alban Institute Interview With Doug Bailey (PDF)
    Creating and sustaining urban ministry can be daunting and—says Doug Bailey—it should be. Urging the church to balance pastoral ministry with prophetic ministry, Bailey invokes the 16th century prayer by Sir Francis Drake to "disturb us" from our comfort zone into bold ministry. This call comes as the church has lost its prophetic voice—in deference to consumer-based, inward-looking ministries. Click here to read the interview.

    • The Cost of Discipleship
      by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

      First published in German 1937: Touchstone, 1995.
      This classic from Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was arrested and executed for resisting the Nazis, considers the nature of humanity, sacrifice, grace, and Jesus as elements of faith. The book includes an extended meditation on the Sermon on the Mount and Bonhoeffer's famous exploration of the incarnational Jesus and His relationship to humanity in the "The Image of Christ." chapter. Bonhoeffer offers new models of servant leadership based on Christian humanism and civic responsibility.

    • Jesus Before Christianity
      by Albert Nolan

      First published in South African 1976. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 25th anniversary edition, 2001.
      Nolan explores Jesus' ministry in the context of his life and time—Palestine in the first century. He immerses Jesus in the real problems of his social, political and urban context and draws parallels with the problems faced in the world today.

    • Scarred By Struggle, Transformed By Hope
      by Joan D. Chittister

      Writing from her experience with cycles of depression and renewed hope, Chittister uses the story of Jacob wrestling with God to explore her own story. She shares her understanding of how struggle stretches and enriches the soul which culminates in hope. In a series of essays, she describes common struggles: the loss of certainty, change, isolation, darkness, fear, powerlessness, vulnerability, exhaustion, and scarring. She then complements these with the related gifts of conversion, independence, faith, courage, surrender, limitations, endurance, and transformation. These meditations are presented in the context of real life, as Chittister considers consumerism, technology, grief, the role of women, and September 11, 2001. This book offers neither self-help nor pat answers, but rather offers companionship that ends in hope.

    • Seek the Peace of the City: Reflections on Urban Ministry
      by Eldin Villafane, Douglas Hall, Efrain Agosto, Bruce W. Jackson

      A call to renew urban ministry, this series of essays urges churches to buck the current trend away from urban ministry and, instead, reclaim the power and opportunity offered by serving the city.

    • Beyond Cheap Grace: A Call to Radical Discipleship, Incarnation, and Justice
      by Eldin Villafane

      In three "sermonic essays," Villafane uses scripture to explore the concept of obedience in faith through discipleship, incarnation, and justice. He urges Christians to choose "the costly Christ-life," citing the discipleship as presented in Philippians 2. He recounts six early church visions of the incarnation as alternatives to current understanding which emphasizes theological rather than experiential interpretation. Lastly, citing the book of Amos, he describes a just model for international leadership. Commentary from Richard Peace, Juan Francisco Martinez, and Veli- Matti Kaerkkaeinen enriches the work.

    • Send My Roots Rain: A Spirituality of Justice and Mercy
      by Megan McKenna

      Drawing on legend, story, and poetry from a variety of traditions—Judaism, Christianity, Hindu, Zen, Native American, popular culture, and others— Megan McKenna offers a series of reflections on the spiritual foundations of justice and mercy. Considering justice and mercy in terms of the Divine is an important firststep in understanding how they can be achieved in the world. Is the Holy One just or merciful? Which do we want for ourselves? For others? These and other questions are inspired by these reflections, which are ideally suited for group discussion and personal meditation.

    • Urban Churches: Vital Signs: Beyond Charity Toward Justice
      by Nile Harper

      This book showcases the thriving urban ministries of 28 churches from across the religious landscape, including Mainline, Evangelical, Roman Catholic, and African American churches located in fifteen different cities. Focusing on creative initiatives developed in response to social issues such as economic development, housing, health-care, and education, this book offers examples for other congregations wanting to provide justice ministries and play a vital role in their urban communities. In addition to details about the specific ministries developed, the book includes discussion of how theology, worship, pastoral leadership, partnerships, racial identify, family life, funding, and imagination influenced these congregations in their transformation to urban ministry.