Strengthening Glendale’s Social Fabric – As someone who has served as pastor to a number of congregations over the past sixteen years, there’s been one question that has stayed at the forefront of my mind: “Is our church making the community better?” More often than not, I haven’t been able to say yes.
Social scientists have documented that no matter what the initial mission of an organization, over time it becomes self-serving and ineffective to the larger community. This is certainly true in many religious congregations. Once we get our beautiful buildings erected, our regular programs and events established and enough people in attendance, we invest most of our time and energy taking care of what we already have.
While I have engaged in this work of congregational self-preservation, that question still dogs my footsteps. It’s been a regular subject of discussion at my congregation, Glendale City Church. And I am hearing more and more congregational leaders telling me that they can’t shake it either. Are we making our community better? And we’re hearing a call to change: to humbly admit that we have turned inward; to stop isolating ourselves from the broader community; and to commit to building relationships with people outside our walls for the sake of strengthening our community.
Over the past few months, fifteen congregations, representing twelve different denominations have come together to strengthen the social fabric of Glendale. Along with twenty business, non-profit and civic leaders, we’re working to be a force for good. The Glendale Communitas Initiative is the concentrated resources, energy, and heart of many people coming together to put compassion, service, and relationships first.
On this website you can learn about how we’re augmenting the services already provided in our city with our two key resources—the economic stability and tuition assistance programs—along with other educational and mentorship programs. Through the collaboration of Communitas, its partners and volunteers, our goal is to reduce poverty in Glendale by ten percent over the next five years.
But our long-term objective goes far beyond reducing poverty, as important as that is. We want a more compassionate Glendale. A Glendale where people walk with each other through the journeys of life, supporting each other in the tough times and celebrating in the good. A city where congregations, non-profits, businesses and government build a trust relationship where a dynamic cycle of dialogue, vision, and action can happen to address the ongoing challenges of our time. We want to strengthen the social fabric of our community to the point that no matter what comes our way, the relationships in Glendale hold fast.
If you are already at work improving people’s lives in Glendale, we want to partner with you. Let us know how we can help! If you are looking for a way to help our city, please join us! Either way, contact our executive director, Jason Schlatter, or myself. Let’s get going!