Columbia’s CCP: A Case Study
deliberately building all its housing with brick siding to increase its attrac- tiveness and longevity and to keep maintenance low. The church then agreed to use similar brick. The result is a lovely inner city neighborhood with a vi- brant, warm, and open church at its core.
Three other churches are rebuilding in Eau Claire. One of these is rebuilding not only the large main church building but a free-standing new gymnasium as well. The pastor of this church, the Progressive Church, was quite ex-
plicit: “If you want attract them to the
to deal with the spiritual problems of youths, you have to
church. A gym is simply a could have moved out to
necessity to do so.” The I-77 (the expressway).
have had to worry our ministry. Our
about crime. But staying in the city is a way of ministry is not just to the well; it is to those who
need it the most.” church is not just a
Another minister makes a similar point by saying, “The social club that we dress up for every Sunday,” and, “Let’s
minister to them.” His cent to the church. One other, church offices.
church has acquired two apartment buildings adja- is being used to house elderly parishioners, and the
One elderly minister related the difficulties his church was having in pur- chasing property in Eau Claire to build housing for elderly parishioners— they had the money, but some of the owners of dilapidated properties were un- willing to sell. When the pastor contacted city officials about the problem, they acted decisively and condemned the problem property. The church now has control over the lots they desired, including a former liquor store, and plans for the elderly housing continue.
Churches have decided to address, as their clergy put it, the “soul” of Eau Claire. The theology behind this mission is best captured by the name of an interdenominational group called “Shalom”—a term which, according to the clergy with whom I spoke, does not merely signify peace, but also harmony and wholeness—the goals of the greater church (defined here as a people not as a place) in Eau Claire. Its mission statement reads:
The Eau Claire Community of Shalom will work collaboratively with all groups (including neighborhood associations, clubs, schools, businesses, corporations, non-profits, and governments) who desire to serve the needs of the community and seek a spe- cial partnership with the other community churches, syna- gogues, mosques and temples to arrest and reverse the further physical and emotional deterioration of our community.
Shalom was created during the 1960s and from its inception had a social agenda consistent with its title. This coalition of clergy, white and black, ex- posed early redlining, discrimination, and other housing and development practices that had begun to tear Eau Claire apart, threatening its existence
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