Thursday, January 23, 2014

Augusta/Richmond County as the Kingdom of God?

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be they name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
forever. Amen.

If you are like me you might pray the Lord's Prayer almost daily, or at the least a time or two each week.  "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" is a line that often catches my attention as I'm aware of what life is really like.  As much as anything I feel the rub, the chafing, as I long for the way God desires the world to be and that deep longing most of us have for everything to be "right."

So, I'm looking for some co-conspirators, some revolutionaries, some anarchists who are no longer content with the way things are in Augusta, Georgia- my immediate world- and yearn for the Kingdom of God to more visible in our city and our area.  Who are the followers of Christ ready to take up the cross in our own city? 
I served Trinity on the Hill UMC 1994-2000 as program director, and then returned in 2007 to serve with outreach and mission.  So, I've seen the changes in Augusta over the years.

Some numbers for you to consider:

  • The population of Augusta/Richmond County is around 200,000.  
  • 55% African American and 39% white. 
  • 28% of the over 75,000 households have children under 18.  
  • 24% of the population lives below the poverty level
  • August 2013 the unemployment rate in Augusta was 10.1%
  • 56% of the population owns a home
  • A count in the summer 2013 revealed 808 homeless adults
  • Richmond County graduation rate in 2012 from high school was 59.19%.
  • The county teen pregnancy rate in 2009 was 87.2 per 1000 for ages 15-19.  With a high rate of sexually active teens there is also a high rate of STD's.
  • 20% of the population has a bachelor's degree or higher.
  • In 2013 there were 2775 cases of domestic violence reported to the sheriff's office
  • Last year there were 132 cases of child abuse/molestation reported.  
  • There were 1355 cases of narcotics. 
  • Total arrests in all cases were 4886

As I think about Augusta GA I wonder what God is doing here, and what God expects us to do.  What is the Kingdom of God recreating here in lives, in families, in neighborhoods and workplaces, and across the city?  How does God's will need to "be done" in our daily lives?

These are some of the issues, questions, and practical discussions we'll be having during the next 10 days as we emphasize community ministry and "The Kingdom is Near."  Find the details and registration at Community Ministry as we are excited to host such a stellar group of community and mission experts.  Might this become a Christian movement that makes all the difference in our lives and in the lives of those we serve?       

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