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Letter from the General Editor: Volume 5, Issue 1

Welcome to the new issue of Journal of Urban Mission!

It has been a long time coming since the last issue. Thank you for your patience! However, a lot has taken place. We now have a completely redesigned and updated website, and the Journal now finds a new institutional home, Missio Seminary, which has been experiencing its own transitions, most notably, moving the main campus into the city of Philadelphia from Hatfield, PA. We hope and trust that this newfound stability will enable us to bring you more in-depth ideas, encouragements and stories in urban mission on a more regular basis.

This re-launch issue is a bittersweet one, as it comes two years after the passing of our friend, colleague, teacher and pastor, Manny Ortiz, who served as Associate Editor of the Journal from its inception. We are dedicating a significant portion of this issue to memorializing Manny. Susan Baker, who, until recently with her husband Randy (who passed away shortly after Manny), had worked with Manny and his wife Blanca in urban ministry for over 40 years, first in Chicago then in Philadelphia, has written an intimate profile of Manny as an urban pastor. Various students and colleagues have also offered words of appreciation to memorialize him, which we are grateful to also share with you.

(While you are at it, you might also want to head over to Faith & Leadership and read our friend Mark Gornik’s remembrance of Manny, “It’s best to have someone walk with you”.)

manny ortiz graduation image
Westminster Theological Seminary graduation, 2006. L to R: Matt Lin, Manny Ortiz, Kyuboem Lee.

Personally, Manny has also been a teacher and pastor to me, as he has been for so many others. I first met him as a student at Westminster Theological Seminary, and over the years this teacher-student relationship expanded to one that included a relationship between a mentor and a mentee, and one between colleagues in urban church planting and pastoring.

Apparently, he introduced a lot of couples to each other. “I care a lot about where people live,” he said once. “I should also care whom they spend their lives with.”

Above all, Manny was a pastor. One of the many ways he blessed me was in introducing me to my wife of 18 years, Christe. I was a missionary kid from Korea by way of Kenya living and ministering cross-culturally in Philadelphia; and she was a young white woman from small town USA who came to faith through her Korean Taekwondo friends in college, and who ended up in Manny’s church in the Hunting Park neighborhood of Philadelphia. I still remember the time when I received a call from Manny, who said, “I have a Polish girl in my congregation who wants to date only Koreans. Would you like to meet her?” (He was given to celebrating his friends’ various ethnic identities; he would say, “God is creating one new ethnic out of many.”)

Apparently, he introduced a lot of couples to each other. “I care a lot about where people live,” he said once. “I should also care whom they spend their lives with.”

Manny’s scholarship in missiology directly flowed out of this pastoral love for people and his desire to see them live out their calling from the Lord, and out of his visionary heart for the kingdom of God becoming manifest in urban communities through the witness of the church.

May the Lord raise up many more like him.

How are we to disciple our people to become a true community that is made up of differences—especially differences in power and privilege?

Back to the introduction to this issue. In the spirit of Manny the urban discipler, we have included two articles on urban discipleship—“Taking the Narrow Gate: How Lament Shapes Multicultural Ministry and Discipleship” by Sahr Mbriwa, and “Traits of Effective Urban Disciplers: A Pauline Perspective” by Matthew Hallam. Discipleship continues to be the oft neglected nuts of bolts of ministry, one that cannot be replaced by quick and easy church growth techniques. It takes on unique urban characteristics in the city, dealing with questions such as “How are we to disciple our people to become a true community that is made up of differences—especially differences in power and privilege?”

This question is enfleshed in the case study of a Lancaster Mennonite church, written by Josef Berthold. It is also the story of what happens to an aging, traditional white congregation that, through its providential encounter with globalization and migration, transforms and something new starts to take shape.

Finally, we include a long overdue review of David Leong’s excellent book, Race and Place, to round out the issue.

We offer this issue as a way to give thanks to God for lives lived in service of God’s kingdom in the city such as Manny’s, and to encourage stimulation and conversation for the sake of the ongoing mission of God in the cities around the world. May the Lord bless you as you also seek him where he has placed you.

I would be remiss to leave unacknowledged the collaboration of Ryan Egli, who has served as Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing at Missio Seminary, and whose partnership behind the scenes made the relaunch of the Journal possible. Ryan has recently decided to take up a new pastoral position at a local church ministry, and will be missed. I also would like to acknowledge the work of Greg Dietrich and his team at Grace at Work, who helped us design and develop the new website. Thanks to their efforts, we have this new platform to keep the Journal moving forward. If you need web design and development help, please check them out. Last but not least, Missio Seminary intern Clint Sanchez spent many hours editing and re-formatting all the articles to fit the new website. Thank you!

Shalom,
Kyuboem Lee, DMin
General Editor
Philadelphia, U.S.A.

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