CCC in our community (continued)

Other the last couple of months, members of Central’s Vision Implementation Team (VIT) and others in the congregation have been conducting a series of listening exercises in our neighborhood. We have talked with business owners, directors of organizations like the Central Library and public school #2, heads of neighborhood associations, downtown residents and elected officials.  We’ve listened to conversations in coffee shops and talked to people on the street. We’ve set out in pairs on a prayer walk through the area around our building.
All this has been part of an effort to learn more about our neighborhood, and we have indeed learned a lot!
We learned about what people see as assets in our neighborhood: transportation, leadership, businesses, restaurants, helping agencies, neighborhood associations, and lots of millennials! People expressed appreciation for being able to walk, for lots to do, and for the decency of people. It’s a great place to raise a family, some said, and it’s on the upswing.
We’ve also learned what people are concerned about: homelessness and panhandling, inadequate sidewalks and roads, gentrification and economic sustainability, the lack of green space and gathering places. Some are concerned about crime (while others don’t think it’s a problem) and others about the fact that people stay in their homes and don’t get involved. And there are definitely some areas with a lot of trash.
One of the most striking impressions from our interviews was the eagerness for collaboration on the part of businesses and organizations. We are not the only ones who are looking outside our walls. And in fact, we have already begun to pursue some of these partnerships. The middle school girls basketball team from School #2 is now practicing in our gymnasium.  The management at Riley Towers has offered to publicize our need for clothing and food donations to its resident. A nearby cell phone repair shop has offered to give a class.
As we continue our work, we will look for the intersection between the gifts and passions of our congregation and the needs and opportunities of our neighborhood, in order to find that “sweet spot” into which God is calling us. One thing that we know is that we want to continue to get out and make connections in the neighborhood. 
In next week’s issue I’ll share some of the pilot projects that our VIT is planning in the coming months.  Stay tuned!
Hope to see you in worship on Sunday as we hear the words of Moses to the people of Israel to “Choose life – so that you and your descendants will live.”  In the afternoon, I hope many of you will join me and other faith leaders, including our own Sharon Watkins, at the IndyCAN public action to stand for “A City of Inclusion.”  See below for more details.