CCDA Principle: Relocation
This is our first post from an 8-part series on the principles of CCDA (Christian Community Development Association), and how they apply to our ministry context in Boston.
By Liz Cressy
In the Bible, John writes “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, The Message). Jesus’ example inspires us. Relocation is about being present. It is neither paternalistic nor about moving people, rather it is an “unconditional commitment to a particular neighborhood.” Pastor Wayne Gordon* writes, “relocation entails desiring for our neighbors…what we desire for ourselves.” Jesus came from heaven to earth to share in our suffering and pain, while also being the Good News, touching every area of our life.
I first came to Dorchester in 2006. I grew up outside of Boston so my picture of the city was mostly Fenway Park, the Boston Common and Harvard Square (which isn’t even in Boston). My eyes were opened to many new realities when I arrived in Codman Square for a summer internship. I ate delicious Caribbean food, learned new styles of worship, and met amazing people. I witnessed the strength of community and a spiritual depth I hadn’t known. I also heard real stories about educational injustice, racism, and the impact of violence and trauma.
I knew living in Dorchester was the right thing for me. I had fallen in love with the community, and believed the best way to “love my neighbor as myself ” was to have a personal stake here. I joined many other Christians who had always been in the community (remainers), or those who went away, but choose to come back (returners). For some, we need to be careful because “it is possible to relocate our houses but not our lives.” Relocation welcomes all who put down roots and pursue the shalom of the city together.
Some days after work it can take me an hour to get home even though I live around the corner. Stopping to hear about neighbor’s victories, challenges and newest gardening advice is part of the journey. Living and being fully present as Christ was is possible in any community. The challenge is whether we are willing to invest ourselves long-term in the community God has called us to.
* Quotes from Making Neighborhoods Whole, by Wayne Gordon and John Perkins