Welcome to the new issue of Journal of Urban Mission!
You may be puzzling over the appearance of a new issue on this site though (I hope) you are glad to see it, since we announced the merger of JofUM and the New Urban World last year. We did produce a joint issue for November 2014, and you can watch out for it on the International Society of Urban Mission site. However, due to unforeseen developments, all agreed that it would be better for us to remain separate journals after all. With a growing multiplicity of voices advocating urban mission around the world, it is my prayer that this important field will gain the attention it deserves and that these voices will edify and energize a variety of creative urban mission efforts around the world.
In this issue, I am excited to introduce you to, first, the husband and wife team of Carl Ellis, Jr. and Karen Angela Ellis (who is actually no stranger to this publication–she has previously written an excellent article, “Identity Satisfaction in a World of Cultural Dissonance,” for this journal). They approach Ferguson and the constellation of issues surrounding it from a united vantage point, yet with different emphases and timbres, in “Racism Alone? – Reflections on the Current National Divide,” and in “‘Step Out The Boat’: Following the Urban Disciple Maker.” You will appreciate their commitment to Scripture, experience in on-the-ground realities of urban ministry, and clarity of vision which is nevertheless nuanced, and which frees them from the trappings of easy answers that have too often been offered in the national discourse.
I am also thrilled to include Ryan Kellermeyer’s wonderful reflection on the biblical text of Jeremiah 32 that weaves his experiential knowledge of city tax foreclosure laws, community development, exegesis, and biblical theology: “Restoring Shalom in the Citadels of Dead Capital: The Church and Vacant Land.” It is an exciting study of how an ancient prophetic act could open up new vistas of possibilities for imagining urban discipleship in the context of urban problems today.
Speaking of experiential knowledge, how can theological education be better suited to the realities of urban ministry? Many will agree that we have a long way to go. My last introduction for this issue belongs to Easten Law’s case study, “Praxis Education for Ministry in Urban Contexts: A Pedagogical & Programmatic Review of Wesley Theological Seminary’s Urban Fellows Program.” He explores how pedagogical perspectives of experiential and praxis education are incarnated in the practice of the Urban Fellows program of Wesley Theological Seminary. This case study could prove helpful for all who are wrestling with the question of theological education that is fit for the realities of urban, global 21st century.
Please enjoy, think, converse, imagine, and act. And may we as his people more faithfully respond to the call of the missionary God.
Kyuboem Lee, D.Min.
Philadelphia, January 2015