An Update from Bridge City Community Church – Chattanooga
By Pastor Josh Woodrow
Bridge City Community is an urban mission. We believe and proclaim that the Kingdom of God isn’t segregated so our churches and communities shouldn’t be either. Shortly upon my arrival in Chattanooga I observed that racism, prejudice, and inequity continue to exist amidst a remarkable renaissance of eco-tourism and entrepreneurship. I discovered a neighborhood that had been isolated, overlooked, and neglected for so long that poverty, under-education, gang violence, and drug addiction had become normal. Alton Park is 98% black, has the highest percentage of youth under the age of eighteen in the city, the highest illiteracy rate in the county, and a significant number of households run by single mothers.
I am an urban missionary. My experiences in this neighborhood are more akin to a missionary overseas than to an American church plant. I live in a strange land where I have had to learn to speak a new language, observe new customs, and earn the trust of a neighborhood of which I am a foreigner. Not only are we preaching the Gospel to a hurting populace, we are also pursuing racial, economic, and educational reconciliation. We are multi-ethnic. We experience the challenges of cross-cultural communication on a daily basis. We have offended and been offended. We have asked for forgiveness and offered it. We feed kids and walk the streets. We reach out to drug dealers and community leaders. We are an urban mission. Truth is you don’t need to travel across the globe to have a mission experience, there are mission fields in all of our cities – Chattanooga included.
Bridge City Community operates out of a recreation center in “the hood.” In order to facilitate our mission we purchased a utility shed to store hospitality equipment, donations to be used for community enrichment, and supplies for outreach opportunities. In a very short amount of time we earned the respect of city officials and neighborhood residents. Their appreciation for our efforts protected the shed from burglary and vandalism… until a few weeks ago when our youth minister called me around 3:00 a.m. to tell me someone had burned the shed to the ground. Recently, we discovered the culprits to be kids looking for snacks I regularly kept stocked. Sadly, they made a poor decision to burn the shed down shortly after stealing some peppermints.
We lost about $10,000 in equipment, supplies, and donations – not to mention the shed itself. All of the stuff we lost is replaceable. They’re just things. We will rebuild from the fire and increase our presence in the neighborhood as a testament to our commitment to our neighbors. Every day since the fire our youth have been in the ashes helping to clean up with no regard for their clean clothing or shoes. We have had residents of Alton Park offering condolences and support. We have been blessed with monetary donations from people throughout Chattanooga who aren’t even members of the church. The reactions have humbled me and encouraged me to continue our mission here with the Lord’s guidance.
So, what does Bridge City need? How can you help? We need partners, specifically:
1. Professional Partners – we are always grateful for those with specialized skills or acumen that will help us reach our goal of sustainability.
2. People Partners – volunteers and leaders are essential for our ongoing efforts.
3. Financial Partners – working alongside the urban poor speaks for itself in the offering plate.
Follow and connect with Bridge City Community Church!
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bridgecitycommunity
Subscribe to Pastor Josh’s e-news: http://www.bridgecitycommunity.com/contact on the web
Be a Partner with Bridge City: http://www.bridgecitycommunity.com/ to learn more