SUM (Studies in Urban Ministry) program spent a week in Atlanta, Georgia, visiting ministries and seeing sights while exploring the topics of race, poverty, and immigration.
James Holt led the trip and here are his thoughts:
Tuesday we started our trip by visiting a suburb north of Atlanta called Clarkston, the most diverse square mile in the U.S. We met up with a church planter who works with many Muslim and Buddhist families from all over the world. We got to hear about the great opportunities the city provides as a way to reach the nations as they come to us. We then visited the Center for Civil and Human Rights and were impacted by the price people paid to fight the injustice of segregation and Jim Crow laws in the south.
We were amazed by God’s incredible creation at the Georgia Aquarium, seeing beautiful aquatic life, from the gigantic whale shark to the tiny but colorful dragon fish.
Wednesday we took part in a seminar called Reimagine Charity to help give us perspective on how to think through truly effective ways to make lasting change in regards to poverty in an urban neighborhoods like ours. We got to spend the evening seeing the sights of Atlanta: Centennial Park, the CNN Tower, Mercedes Benz Stadium, and a host of other places. We really enjoyed the Olympic Rings Fountain show and watching a game of cricket played by a group of Pakistanis.
Thursday we spent the day at the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site. The park is unique in that they have preserved Martin Luther King Junior’s neighborhood. We we were able to walk the streets of the Sweet Auburn section of Atlanta, see his birth home, and hear him preach at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. To think that in the face of fear, pain, and ultimately death, he pursued civil rights, is a picture of commitment to a cause. We see the ultimate example of this in Christ as he pursued our freedom and gave his life willingly so that we could spend eternity with God, allowing us to be free from the slavery of sin. We were challenged to think of both the cost and impact a life committed to the cause of Christ could have for the gospel.
The trip back to Philly on Friday was a long 13 hours. We passed the time in conversation, singing, worship, debate, and listening to sermons. It is really a privilege to travel with a group of students wanting to learn about urban ministry as they ask the question, “How might God use me to reach the City?”