Chattanooga ministry selected to lead church’s efforts to address social issues

A Chattanooga Ministry was one of six organizations nationwide chosen to pilot a collaborative church-led program aimed at creating systemic community change.

Leadership Foundations is teaming up with Kingdom Partners, a local group that tackles racial divisions in churches in Chattanooga, to launch the program this fall. Church leaders will meet in small groups each month for training related to justice and social engagement, and then work together to develop a synthesis project to solve a local problem.

Oliver Richmond, president of Kingdom Partners, said the goal is to involve 30 local churches, with five to 10 churches working together under the program to develop a synthesis project.

The foundation was interested in the work Kingdom Partners has done since its inception about three years ago, Richmond said. The local organization can be a leader for the nation, he said.

“It is a great honor because the work that our pastors and leaders have done over the past three years, they are seeing the fruits of it and being put in the national spotlight,” said Richmond.

The group of urban and suburban pastors launched virtual learning sites for students during the COVID-19 pandemic, hauled drinking water to Mississippi during a crisis there in March, and led discussions reports on racism in the summer of 2020.

Kingdom Partners exists to equip and empower religious communities to solve local problems, said Jefferson Herring, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kingdom Partners. Churches can share and deploy their resources on behalf of the city, he said.

“We know the faith community is a potential force for massive social change,” Herring said.

At least two representatives from each participating church should attend the monthly training and conversations with other church leaders. Once a group of churches have decided on a project, they can start making a plan, Richmond said. The program’s schedule sets a roll-up project target between June and October 2022, but if groups are able to move faster, they can, Richmond said.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga pastors discuss racism and injustice in statewide conversation for change)

Dave Hillis, president of Leadership Foundations, said in an email that his foundation hopes to involve 15 programs across the country in a similar program over the next three years. Based on the “maturity of their vision of Kingdom Partners regarding church engagement,” the organization was selected to be among the first six chosen to launch the initiative, Hillis said.

Kingdom Partners announced the program and answered questions from church leaders during a meeting Thursday morning at the Together Cafe in Highland Park. Leadership Foundations is providing $ 20,000 to start the effort and Kingdom Partners plans to raise more funds.

Most of those in attendance have been active in Kingdom Partners workshops and events for years. Herring told those gathered that national recognition would come due to the continued commitment of the religious community in Chattanooga.

“Based on where we were with our relationships, our small groups, our Bible studies, we think it’s a continuation of what we’re already doing,” Herring said.

Contact Wyatt Massey at [email protected] or 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @ news4mass.

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