The church downtown

Strategies for urban ministry

The city is changing. For decades white people with money fled the city for the suburbs, leaving behind a mostly brown and black population that was often bereft of resources. But recently, in many cities, patterns of gentrification have reversed this trend. People with money have moved back to the city and rehabbed old housing stock, seeking to live where they work and play. As housing prices and property taxes go up, lower-income people are often driven out.

How is the church responding to this most recent change and ministering to the new set of urban dwellers? Chicago offers the examples of several churches that have responded to the swell of new urban elites who began coming in the 1980s and have not stopped.

Chicago once had a number of downtown “First Churches.” Almost all of them packed up and left in the wake of urban changes in the late 19th and early 20th century. But First United Methodist did not.


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