We cannot fail the cities.

IF Christianity fails the cities, it fails—period.” So says David Frenchak, director of the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education (SCUPE), an agency through which several evangelical seminaries are making a partial breakthrough in ministerial training geared for the awesome challenge of city churches in the 1980s.

When critics of Christianity say that the church has already failed the cities, Frenchak, a Boston pastor for eight years before he came to the Chicago-based SCUPE directorship in 1976, responds that the charge is partly true. He gives several reasons why he and his associates in this pastoral education program make such emphatic statements about the necessity of a vital urban church ministry.

Reason one: sheer numbers. More than 47 million Americans now live in the country’s ten largest metropolitan areas, and all ten are growing. Reason two: credibility. The nation is watching to see whether the church can meet human needs. Reason three: basic theological considerations. Our Lord taught his disciples to help the poor and oppressed—the vast majority of whom now live in cities. Such ministry is not easy, but if the church is to be strong, it must exercise its muscles. If we avoid the difficult, we’ll grow soft.

Seminaries participating in the Consortium thus far are Bethel (St. Paul), Calvin (Grand Rapids), Mennonite (Elkhart, Indiana), Northern Baptist (Lombard, Illinois), and North Park (Chicago). Administrators of Conservative Baptist, North American Baptist, and Trinity have participation under consideration. Through SCUPE, which serves as the department of urban mission for each school, the cooperating seminaries make available a full year of specialized courses and practicum ...

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