Each year brings its own victories and challenges. s Frank Sinatra puts it, “That’s life!” However, the biblical prophet encourages us: “Do not fear, for [the Lord is] with you; do not be dismayed, for [He is] your God. [He] will strengthen you and help you; [He] will uphold you with [His] righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10. In Christ, we are worth more than sometimes life’s challenges make us feel.
Furthermore, I would like to share with you a few of the exciting things that are happening at the Urban Renewal Center.
We rung in the year with a blast!
The 2nd Annual Lead Like King Gala was Friday, January 12, 2018. It was a tremendous success. We honored outstanding community leadership, including Dr. Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani and Tidewater Community College, Chief Larry Boone and the Norfolk Police Department, Rev. Dr. Sharon Riley and Faith Deliverance Christian Center and Mr. Paul Fraim, the former Mayor of Norfolk.
The event was exquisite and positive energy filled the atmosphere. The finger licking Soul Food was catered by Sweet Jams Cafe’ of Norfolk; Alex Harris mesmerized the crowd with his Soulful sounds; Nate Winfield opened the night caressing the crowd with anthems from the Civil Rights Movement, and Norfolk State University Chamber Choir was absolutely amazing!
The red carpet was a popular feature of the night. Mrs. Paula Allen Beckett hosted the Red Carpet, asking guests questions about what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy means to them. Check out a snapshot of the excitement in the first video below; and, listen to some of our guests’ reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy on the Red Carpet in the second video, below.
City On A Hill Forum: An Interfaith Dialogue on Race & Politics
January 18th, the Urban Renewal Center and Hands United Building Bridges sponsored a forum with interfaith clergy to dialogue on the ways in which problems of race and politics have impacted communities of color as well as diverse faith communities.
Because of inclement weather, we postponed the original scheduled forum from January 7th to January 18th. The snowy weather returned by January 18th; yet, the event was well attended. The forum was held at Congregation Beth El Synagogue in Norfolk, Virginia. The conversation was lively and informative. Undoubtedly, the issue of race in America is a hot topic worthy of continued conversation.
Look out for the Urban Renewal Center’s Master Class on Race in America – Coming soon!
IMPACT Homework Club
The Urban Renewal Center has partnered with Jacox Elementary School in Norfolk and successfully launched the IMPACT Homework Club (IHC). IHC supports 2nd graders in the areas of literacy and math.
Joel Phillips serves as coordinator and is leading a host of volunteers (some of whom are in the photo above) who are dedicating one hour a week to help second graders with their homework!
Lecture on Theology of Community Engagement, Payne Theological Seminary DMin Students
Last week, I was one of the guest lecturers for the Doctor of Ministry intensive of Payne Theological Seminary, held in Irvine, California. My lecture presented a theology for community engagement from a practical theological perspective. I, also, shared initiatives that the Urban Renewal Center is involved in as examples for how to take theology to the streets.
The lecture was well received. Students and mentors appreciated both the theory and praxis approach that advances a vision for renewed relevance of the church in society.
Because Payne Theological Seminary values the relationship between the academy and the church, the doctoral mentors are bishops and church leaders from a variety of denominations. Among those present at the DMin intensive were Bishop Vashti McKenzie, Bishop John Bryant and Bishop Teresa Snorton.
Spending time with one of NASA’s “Hidden Figures”
I was honored to be this year’s guest speaker for the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia’s MLK Day Service. In the picture with Micah and me is Dr. Christine Darden, one of NASA’s hidden figures from the book entitled Hidden Figures. Dr. Darden attended the MLK Day Service.
Dr. Darden is featured in the History Makers archives. As the archives report, “She received the Dr. A. T. Weathers Technical Achievement Award from the National Technical Association in 1985. She was awarded the Senior Executive Career Development Fellowship from Simmons College in 1994.
NASA recognized Darden with the Certificate of Outstanding Performance ten times between 1973 and 2003. Not only has Darden received the NASA medals for equal opportunity and for achievement in leading the sonic boom program, she is also the recipient of the 1987 Candace Award for Science and Technology from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and the 1988 Black Engineer of the Year Award from the publishers of U.S. Black Engineer & Technology magazine.”
Dr. Darden is an exemplary and humble human being who has made an indelible impression on our world. She has an outstanding legacy. And, she loves the Lord! Let’s follow her lead.
May you have a wonderful rest of your week!
Grace and peace,