Susan S. Baker

Susan Baker was raised in a Christian family in primarily white, middle-class suburban communities. She attended Wheaton College and through the college became involved in Chicago inner-city ministry. Upon graduating with a degree in Economics and Business Administration, she and her husband moved into the city and began a ministry with Hispanic children on Chicago’s near northwest side. Seven years later she and her family joined with other families, including Manny Ortiz and his wife Blanca, in what would become a church planting effort, leaving Chicago with five churches, two Christian elementary schools, and a number of other ministries. In 1987 Baker, her family, and the Ortiz family moved to Philadelphia. She attended Temple University where she earned a Masters degree in Urban Studies and a Ph.D. in Sociology. While at Temple she began teaching courses for Geneva College at the Center for Urban Theological Studies, and then moved to Westminster Theological Seminary where she taught and did administration for the Practical Theological Seminary through 2008. She has also taught at City Seminary in New York, Biblical Theological Seminary and Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is now the Assistant Director of the DMin program at Missio Seminary. She has written Understanding Mainland Puerto Rican Poverty, has co-edited and contributed to The Urban Face of Mission, and has edited and contributed to Globalization and Its Effects on Urban Ministry in the 21st Century. She has also continued with the team that has planted a multi-ethnic church, Spirit and Truth Fellowship, in Philadelphia’s inner city and was co-director of its church planting ministry with Manny Ortiz which has now spawned nine new churches. This church also began an elementary school and a community center and has partnered with a Christian health center and a Christian legal center, all located within half a block from the church.

Susan S. Baker
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The Life and Ministry of an Urban Pastor Manuel (Manny) Ortiz (1938-2017)

It is impossible to speak of the impact Manny has had on urban ministry without taking a quick look into who he was as a man of God. Manny never pretended to be perfect or above anyone else. He saw himself as a sinner saved by the grace of God. His keen awareness of his own failings kept him humble, always giving credit to the Lord for his achievements, and non-judgmental, knowing that God forgave him for his sins so how could he do otherwise with others.

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Review: Race and Place: How Urban Geography Shapes the Journey to Reconciliation

Most books about race focus on individual racism; others on systemic racism. David Leong’s book addresses systemic issues in a mission context and delves into how place affects and is affected by racial differentiation, how the way the places we inhabit has been formed for the sake of exclusion, and how place must therefore be considered when working for reconciliation and mission.

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Review: Church Planting Movements

Hundreds of churches are being planted within relatively few years and tens of thousands are coming to know Christ, in places and among people groups that most of us have never heard of. David Garrison calls these occurrences Church Planting Movements, and within the pages of his book by the same name he provides their stories and lessons the Church as a whole can learn from them.

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Review: When Helping Hurts

Most well-to-do North American Christians have a misunderstanding of poverty, as well as of themselves in relation to the poor, and therefore apply misguided solutions that end up hurting rather than helping already desperate situations, in spite of their good intentions. Here is a book that seeks to help the church, especially the well-to-do North American church, gain a better understanding of poverty that will lead to better practices of mercy ministry.