Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas, Christians! Love Thy Neighbor!

Christmas week continues. It's snowing in Chicago, and the streets are lit up and packed with holiday shoppers. It's the first day of winter and the season for sharing, gift-giving, love... and charity...

As I did yesterday, I would like (in the spirit of Christmas) to dig into New Testement scripture and see if I can come up with more on the Christian virtues of charity and love for neighbors:

"Let all your things be done with charity." - Corinthians 16:14

"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Matthew 22:39

That was too easy :) Now again, I don't pretend to be a spiritual leader. But it's just too easy to see connections between Christian virtues and Tutor/Mentor Connection support for student learning and growth in high-poverty neighborhoods.

Please consider a charitable Christmas donation to Tutor/Mentor Connection or Mapping For Justice, to help us continue working for at-risk youth in neighboring communities throughout Chicagoland.

And please expand these maps to see locations of Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches in the Chicago Area.

I chose these denominations today because these churches tend to be concentrated in areas of affluence, relative to high poverty. In other words, members are "neighbors" to poverty. The maps show highways that usher members of these faith groups from areas of relative wealth, straight through pockets of neighboring poverty on their commutes in and out of downtown. Opportunities abound for potential volunteers and donors.

As Dan wrote yesterday in response to my last blog post, "Every dot on this map represents a faith based organization. Some are in high poverty areas where tutor/mentor programs are most needed. Others are in middle class neighborhoods where people may be struggling to keep jobs and pay mortgages and deal with their own family health. Others are in areas of high affluence, where there may be more ability to give. In all of these communities we hope that groups are forming and reading [Mapping For Justice] blog articles... If you read and reflect on what we write each week, each of these dots will begin to have strategies that connect them to tutor/mentor programs in one, or more parts of the city, as well as to people in other faith groups who are discussing the same issues. Let us know if we can help your congregation form such groups."

If more faith leaders and members can start to look at high poverty neighborhoods through a Christian lens of "neighbor," perhaps the students in these forgotten and underserved areas will one day EACH gain exposure to mentors and tutors (you!) needed to help them overcome special poverty-related challenges they face, and EACH become productive participants in society and the economy.

Spiritual leadership can take the lead of course, using scripture to justify alliances with other congregations... and to mobilize the flock, on behalf of the Christian virtues of Charity and Love, to help neighboring students in need.

Interested in where to start? Please look at one of Tutor/Mentor Institute's several strategy documents (accumulated from over 30 years of working knowledge) called, "How Faith Communities Can Lead Volunteer Mobilization For Tutor/Mentor Programs".And then contact us to discuss ways we can work together.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Note: since 2011 the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been operated by Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. While this is not a tax exempt organization, it still depends on contributions to continue this work. Please consider a small donation this holiday season.

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