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Nurturing Sanctuary

Community Capacity Building in African American Churches


Townsand Price-Spratlen

How are predominantly African American churches meeting the needs of young people? What resources of, and tensions in, faith leadership are shaping answers to this and other related questions? Nurturing Sanctuary analyzes ways in which the two most vital institutions of the Black experience – families and churches – are working with schools and health providers to respond to contemporary challenges and improve the twenty-first century life chances of African Americans and others. Data were generated from a four-year collaboration of eighteen churches, public health professionals, service learning students, and an interdisciplinary team of researchers. Eighty parents and pastors, and over 400 teenagers in a large, Midwestern city specified strategies of action in their daily lives and how they use them to respond, more and less successfully, to their many life challenges. Nurturing Sanctuary explores three capacity-building themes that emerged and critiques diverse Sacred and secular resources being developed and used. Finally, it specifies innovative best practices that are enriching faith-health relationships among religiously active persons, and all others with whom they interact within and beyond sanctuary walls.
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Chapter 5. Strengthening the Bridge Between Us: Intergenerational Capacity Building in Contemporary Black Faith

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Intergenerational Capacity Building in Contemporary Black Faith

We present church as somehow holding, stifling, keeping youth from really experiencing life. When a child’s been hearing that for 14 years, they think that there’s just some great, “golden apple” outside of the church walls. “And I’ve got to go get it!” And that unfortunately becomes dangerous…. Youth don’t care about Tupac [Shakur] or Biggie [Smalls]. They care about who’s successful…. And when we present Christianity as not being able to be successful, then that brings the challenge.

—Youth Pastor Carlyle Hampton Cathedral Redeemer Church

Critical analysis can help us explore individual and communal hypocrisy, betrayal, and miseducation… requir[ing] of others that which we [do] not do ourselves…. Change requires disruption…. Empowerment helps the Hip Hop generation come to know and love their authentic selves…. We need to listen to one another and learn to communicate so that we can engage in intergenerational dialogue.

—Cheryl Kirk-Duggan and Marlon Hall1

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