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Updated: Mar 4, 2019

The result of gentrification when new development moves into an old space

The word gentrification, dates back to 1964 by British sociologist Ruth Glass, described the disruption of certain neighborhoods by middle class “gentry” from the west side.[1] Historically, the process forces the dislocation of current, established residents and businesses, forcing them to move from a gentrified area because of an increase in housing and/or property taxation.

Additionally, gentrification often shifts a neighborhood’s racial/ethnic composition and average household income by developing new, more expensive housing, businesses and improved resources. Conversations about gentrification have evolved, and though displacement tends to be the most popular topic, studies show every neighborhood faces unique challenges, and reasons for displacement can vary.

In challenging the churches to take a leading role in ownership of this issue, I want to introduce a unique metaphor for God,[2] and how His presence in a community impacts the economy.

Isaiah 65 gives a biblical account of a community where every resident’s socio-economic needs are met. Verse 20 begins with “Never again will there be an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred be considered accursed.21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.” Social will be a rule of existence. The challenge to the universal church is to put its mission into action! Preaching a social justice gospel. Adopt programming to address the socioeconomic needs of the community. Encourage parishioners to submit themselves, their resources and talents to God to create God’s economy and that beloved community.

[1] Moskowitz, Peter. How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood. New York: Nation Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc., 2017.

[2] Meeks, Douglass M. God the Economist: The Doctrine of God and Political Economy. Minneapolis: Fortress Press p. 76, 1989.

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