Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/ADRA/Urban Development

Urban Development
General Conference
Skill Level 3
Year of Introduction: 2005

1. Explain the process of urbanization and list some of the human needs that it creates, especially for the poor. Edit

Cities are built by economics. Most began hundreds of years ago as trading points on seacoasts, rivers or major lakes. More recently railroads and then air transport have been added, but much of shipping to this day is still by water. Trading also requires banking and insurance services, so you will find major banks and insurance company headquarters in the downtown area of all major cities. Trading also attracts taxation and as the population grows, there is a need to safeguard law and order, so government facilities are also found downtown in all major cities. "Downtown" or the Central Business District (the technical term used by urban planners) continues today as the key point for commerce, banking, insurance and government, as well as many cultural institutions.

With the industrial revolution, factories were built around the cities in Europe and North America, as well as housing for the needed workers. Initially, the large apartment houses or "tenements" were built across the street or a couple of blocks from the factories. As the factories began to install larger and larger steam engines and massive machinery, the resulting pollution of the air and water, and the noise levels, caused the workers to want to move further away. With new technology and the need for even larger factories, a second ring of development grew up around the cities. The original, inner industrial belt began to decline creating what came to be called, in America, in the 1960s, the "inner city." As the old factories were abandoned, the economy of the inner city went down hill and absentee landlords began to practice "dis-investment." That means that they wrung every dollar out of the community they could in rent, but did not spend any money to keep up the buildings, repair them, etc. This is how "slum" housing came to the industrial cities of Europe and North America.

The second belt of industrial development had some factory areas, interspersed with residential neighborhoods. These neighborhoods worked hard to resist decline and many of them have remained strong for more than a hundred years. These "inner urban neighborhoods" often have very specific ethnic and cultural characteristics. The industrial revolution was fed by migration and then immigration. First, many people moved from the rural areas and small towns into the cities to get jobs. Then, others came from outside the country to feed the need for more and more labor to work in the factories. Immigration has been an enormous factor in the cities of North America. Most Americans and Canadians come from ancestors who were immigrants during the industrial era.

As the industrial revolution matured, the neighborhoods near downtown became full. This is where the most affluent and influential families in the city lived, but as things became too crowded, they began to build new homes out beyond the two rings of industrial development and working-class neighborhoods. These were the first "bedroom communities" built at the edge of cities and many of these neighborhoods are still very affluent, elegant places to this day. After World War II, the population of the cities in North America grew almost entirely with the addition of more and more suburbs or towns at the edge of the cities. European cities have done a better job at containing suburban sprawl. Some of the oldest suburbs now face many of the same problems as the inner city. By 1950, four out of five Americans were living in the major cities and their suburbs. European countries had reached this level of overwhelming urbanization much earlier, but in the aftermath of World War II faced the need for complete reconstruction.

In the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, urbanization did not take off until the late 20th Century. There is relatively little industrial development in these nations. Young adults are attracted to the cities by the opportunity for education and access to the media and popular culture, as well as jobs in the international economy of globalization. Again, trade is the economic driver that is building these cities. But, as massive numbers of people come to the cities, these developing countries do not have the resources to keep up with the need for housing, utilities, streets and the most basic necessities. Vast slums have sprung up where people construct homes from whatever materials they can get their hands on, including scrap lumber, old packing crates and even cardboard boxes. The only sewers are open ditches and the streets are all unpaved mud.

Needs of Urban Communities

1. There are always large numbers of poor people in the cities. The urbanization process attracts the poor because of the opportunities it opens up, and it discards those who cannot keep up with the constant change in technology, industries, etc. This creates unemployment. Even the wealthy cities of the industrial nations have institutionalized chronic poverty, and the fast-growing cities of the developing countries are made up largely of the poor.

2. Poverty results in hunger and homelessness. It also helps to generate health problems, stress on families, substance abuse, etc.

3. In order to move out of poverty, people must get education and find jobs. In developing countries there is a need to create jobs, and even in the industrial countries, because large corporations constantly close down factories, move operations and even take jobs overseas, there is a constant need to create new job opportunities.

4. Slum communities need development and upgrading. There is a need to build better housing, improve the streets, and create economic opportunities by starting new businesses, etc.

5. Cities attract criminals as well as people looking for education and jobs. Organized crime emerges because of the large number of people involved in crime in relatively close proximity. Politics are often corrupt. Crime and security are major needs in all cities.

6. Cities have enormous environmental problems. The sheer mass of a large city overwhelms the natural environment and special steps have to be taken to provide/protect clean water, clean air, etc.

7. There are tremendous systemic needs within cities because they are such large and complex organisms. Transportation, education, health care, government and other systems must be reformed and renewed from time to time as they lose touch with the real needs of the people or become decayed.

2. Read the chapters in Ministry of Healing by Ellen White entitled "Help for the Unemployed and Homeless" and "The Helpless Poor," and write a one-page summary of the key points. Edit

After reading these two chapters, what was most surprising to you? Have you ever heard of Adventist projects involved in the kinds of economic development, job training, and homeless shelter programs that are advocated in these chapters? Why are contemporary Adventists so behind in fulfilling this part of their heritage?

3. Interview the pastor or Adventist Community Services leader or Inner City Program coordinator in an inner-city Seventh-day Adventist Church and ask how the church is meeting the needs of the poor in the community. Take notes during the interview. Edit

If you live outside of an Inner City urban area and can not readily travel to one, contact a local conference that includes Inner City ministries or the NADACS Inner City Coordinator through and request contact information for an Inner City program. Contact the Inner City program by phone or mail and perform your interview.

Within the United States Inner City conditions of the most severe or outstanding exist in major Eastern Cities and in major coastal cities. Baltimore, New York, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, and New Jersey are good examples. Middle states and inland areas of the west have larger (geographically) more sparsely populated cities with no well defined "downtown" Inner City area. Although such cities still have serious problems with homeless and poor, the management of particular ministry is diverse and often quite different from those in smaller more dense cities. For a better understanding of this contact an Inner City ministry in each type of large metropolitan area.

4. Present a 15-minute report on how a youth group might help in the urban development problems the church is sponsoring. The report may be presented one-on-one to your instructor or youth-group adult sponsor, or it may be presented in a group setting. Edit

There are many ways a group of young people can get involved in helping an urban community. Here are some ideas:

Street Feeding
Make lunches and distribute them to the homeless living in the street. This can be done from of a volunteer's vehicle or from an ACS van. Some groups also collect blankets, socks, underwear, gloves, and coats (or any combination of these) and distribute them with the lunches.
Work in a Soup Kitchen
Groups may volunteer on a regular basis, or as available.
Homeless Shelters
Find out what other churches in your community are doing for the homeless. Some churches may band together to offer shelter on a rotating basis for one month (or one week if there are enough churches) during the coldest part of the year. A meal is usually served each evening as well. If your community already has a program like this, join it. If not, look into starting one.
Thrift Store
Contact your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, or similar organization and ask what you can do to help. They may be able to put you to work sorting donated items or helping out in many other ways. These stores usually employ those who are in desperate need, providing them with on-the-job training that may enable them to get a job in a regular retail establishment.
Day Camp
Start a Day Camp at your church. These programs are operated much the same as a Vacation Bible School program, with or without the religious component. These programs are offered for free and are targeted towards underprivileged youth. They also provide the parents with a form of free babysitting allowing them to run errands or even work.
Tutoring Program
See the Tutoring honor for more information.
Clothes Closet
Collect used clothing from church members and make it available to those in need. This can be done on a regular, weekly basis, or by appointment. You can photocopy ads with tear-off phone numbers for the program and hang them on bulletin boards around your community.

Refer to the next requirement for additional ideas, and you may even be able to come up with a few of your own. Be sure to look into the Adventurer for Christ honor when you do this, as these efforts will certainly meet the requirements there.

5. Spend at least four hours in one of the following field trips as a participant observer Edit

a. Go out with a street ministry team that provides food and/or blankets or coats to the homeless in an urban neighborhood Edit

Collect the items at your church for about a month ahead of time. This can be done by placing a large box in the church foyer and having its purpose announced from the pulpit and in the church bulletin. Make a sign for the box as well, and decorate it (use gift wrap) to make an attractive, eye-catching display. This may also be done as a Sabbath School class project over the course of a quarter (three month period).

b. Go out with a health screening van that operates in an urban neighborhood. Edit

You do not need to be a medical professional to help with a health-screening van. They often serve refreshments and need paperwork to be filled out. A youth group could assist with either of these aspects of the program. Health professionals will manage the medical aspects.

c. Go out with a Christian work team that is repairing or building urban housing for the poor. Edit

Since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, the concept of "voluntourism" has become popular. "Voluntourists" are people who spend their vacations volunteering in an area needing help, such as one that has been struck by a natural disaster. Often, the volunteers will take a day off during their visit to tour nearby, unaffected areas.

Other options including signing up with Habitat for Humanity, or Maranatha Volunteers International.

d. Work in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter in an urban neighborhood. Edit

You can find local soup kitchens and shelters in your phone book. Call them and ask how you can help. Work with the staff to find a need they have that your group is able to fill. Then do it!

e. Volunteer in an Adventist Community Services center located in an urban neighborhood. Edit

Visit to find an ACS center near you. If there is not one near you, choose one of the other options in this requirement.

6. Attend a worship service in a church in an urban neighborhood made up of a different ethnic group than your own. List for your instructor the things you observed that were different than what you have grown up to be used to in your own culture. Then list the things that were similar to what you are used to. Edit

Urban areas often consist of people from many ethnic backgrounds. These ethnic groups often form churches where they can worship in the way they were accustomed in their own country.

Which aspect of the service will be different from what you are used to could be anything, but pay special attention to the following:

  • Music
  • Language
  • The way the congregation participates (or does not participate)
  • The order of service
  • Number of and length of prayers and sermons
  • The different roles of men, women, and children
  • et cetera

See also requirement 4, section k of the Cultural Diversity Appreciation honor.

7. Write a proposal of at least four pages for an urban development project that could be conducted largely by teen and/or young adult volunteers. Include objectives, action plan, personnel needed, schedule and budget. This proposal may be written by an individual or as a team project in a work team of no more than four persons. Edit

Getting your plan down in writing will help you stay on track and give you a better understanding of what you will need to accomplish your goals. This paper can be presented to local businesses in an effort to gain funding for your project. They are far more likely to donate generously to your program if you have a plan in place and can demonstrate specific needs.

References Edit

  • Mission in Metropolis: The Adventist Movement in an Urban World by Monte Sahlin, Center for Creative Ministry, Lincoln, Nebraska (2007)
  • Cry of the Urban Poor by Viv Grigg, Missions Advanced Research Center, Monrovia, California (1992)
  • Urban Ministry by David Claerbaut, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1983)
  • Youth Ministry in City Churches by Eugene C Roehlkepanain, Group Books, Loveland, Colorado (1989)