Friday, September 11, 2009

The Suburban Captivity of the Churches - 6

The renewal of public responsibility and the creation of metropolitan community are two sides of the same coin. Each is essential to the other.

When the churches suffered a breakdown of community as Christian people, the metropolitan area was deprived of the sustaining power of a faith that embraced the concerns of the whole. The collapse of the public sphere was almost inevitable without a community to represent the whole, for the free play of economic interests fragmented the metropolis, and no countervailing power represented the common good.

What are these issues and problems?
1) Slums are growing and they are increasingly the habitat of minority groups who are isolated and discriminated against, both in terms of housing and in terms of economic opportunities.

2) Social tensions are reaching the explosive states and we continue, doggedly, to ignore causes in favor of treating the results (e.g., juvenille delinquency).

3) Social and political communication is almost at a standstill as the idea of responsibility is lost midst the welter of consumer -oriented propaganda.

4) The concentration of urban populations is raising sever problems of water supply and disposal of wastes.

5) Open spaces are increasingly difficult to preserve, and the implications of this for food supply, standards (material) of living, economics of land development, and aesthetics are keeping many people awake at nights.

There is a grim physical reality to the metropolis. From time to time we make pitiful token gestures toward its "problems." But no one guides us toward a meaning of community which comprehends more than profit taking and congeniality. Will the Church fill this emptiness in our society?

To provide guidance toward metropolitan community the Church can:
1) affirm community by forming a ministry to the whole metropolis.

2) offer a vision and experience of metropolitan community by exemplifying a community.

3) inform the metropolitan struggle for community with its own prophetic concern for the common good of the metropolitan area.

The deformation of Protestantism came about by the severing of its ministry from participation in the whole of metropolitan life; the reformation of Protestantism will come about through the participation of its ministry in the whole and representation of the whole community in the communities of Protestant faith.

The renewal in Protestantism will be tested by the extent of its formative power - whether it can generate inclusive ministries to the whole metropolis. Many pastors and laymen are ready to participate in the whole life of the metropolitan area. Having tasted the emptiness of an insular congregation, they are searching for opportunities to share responsibility with other pastors and congregations.

~ The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, 1962, Chapter 7 "The Renewal of the Metropolis", pgs 200-201

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