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Beyond Barriers


Beyond Barriers

Over the past five years, you have heard me say repeatedly that the local church needs to be committed to the long-term work of community development. We believe that transformation happens through the restoration of relationships first between people and God, and then between people and themselves, people and other people, and finally people and the rest of creation. The church has been called by God to reflect His redemptive care for a hurting world and hurting people, and it is important that we do so in a way that truly helps others rather than hurting them. If the local church is not actively engaged in restoring these relationships within their communities, then a critical piece is missing in community development.

However, the local church has limits. Community Development is just that, COMMUNITY development. It requires more than theological ideals and pastoral care. For real community development to happen, relationships have to be healed and people need access to jobs. City plans need to change to revitalize derelict areas without damaging healthy communities or fostering an unhealthy level of gentrification. You cannot have a team of pastors and church staff alone at the forefront of community development. They do not possess the right gifts. I am the “Community Development Director” for Southwood, but I am not qualified to open a successful business that will employ 10-50 individuals in my community. I have attended city planning meetings, and I do not understand most of what is being said.

This is why successful community development requires that the local church take very real steps to partner meaningfully with city officials, local non-profits, and especially local business leaders. This sounds great, but it is not easy, nor is it the usual pattern for the creation and implementation of church outreach programs. However, if we are going to effect real change in our communities, we must be equipped to partner effectively with these different organizations and work strategically together toward transformation.

To this end, The CornerStone Initiative is bringing Tom Bassford and Gregory E. Ealey to speak at the fourth annual CornerStone Conference for Community Compassion. This year’s conference will be specifically geared for both pastors and business leaders, and will focus on how we break down existing barriers to create effective partnerships within our communities.

Registration details are below, and Southwood is excited to provide partial scholarships for those interested in attending from Southwood!! Please contact the church office for details before registering for the conference if you are interested in a scholarship.

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Beyond Barriers Conference
at the Jackson Center
February 21, 8:30am-2:30pm
Conference Cost $99 per person (includes lunch)

To take advantage of the partial scholarship offered by Southwood, contact the church offices BEFORE registering for the conference.
Register at cornerstone-al.org!