door of hope
The twin cities of Champaign-Urbana are famous for pristine campus buildings and the incredible academic reputation of the University of Illinois. There are nearly 50,000 bright undergrad, graduate and international students that pass through our town during the most influential years of their early adult life. “CU” has been and will continue to be a town of influence.
The ethnic & economic makeup of the UIUC campus has changed dramatically in the last decade, with each incoming class representing more nations than ever before. Students, businesses and young professionals are drawn to CU more and more as it becomes a micro-urban community with a recognized quality of life.
But those who have called CU home know that we live in a town deeply segregated by race, age, politics and economic status. Just blocks away from towering, state-of-the-art campus buildings are neighborhoods that have been devastated by decades of unbalanced, resource allocation and racial segregation.
In November 2018, a study of census data revealed that eight of the 18 towns in the US with the worst economic, educational, employment, racial and housing disparities are in Illinois - primarily east central IL.* CU reflects this regional tragedy, its long history of racial segregation that can been seen in the very layout of our town.
In our years working with college students and young adults (we come from a campus ministry background), we’ve heard a growing frustration with the Church’s deficient or lacking response when it comes to tangible social realities. There is much pain among our neighbors and too often the Church is not present with compassion, mercy and justice.
What is our faithful response in our town?
As we've lived in this town for many years now, our planting team felt the call for a response to life beyond the borders of campus. We desired to step into the valley of trouble in our town, and give presence in our neighborhoods to the door of hope we have in Christ. We're humbly learning to live out these conviction - not through another church service - but through smaller communities who wrestle with the dynamics of our town and how to put our faith into action.
Champaign & Urbana do not need another church service.
But we see a need for multiplying smaller communities of Christ-followers who live life together intimately, learning to patiently and intentionally flesh out the gospel in ways that announce and demonstrate the good news of God's kingdom in the textures of every day life in Champaign-Urbana.