Partnerships between church and community can bring forth transformation and growth, but sometimes not in ways that the church has come to see and measure growth. I had the opportunity in 2009 to embark on a mission with a small group of members from the Minneapolis FUMC to try and ‘transform’ the community; this was through the educational opportunity ‘Faith and Leadership Transforming Communities’. After the initial training, my church group went back to Minneapolis unsure of how to move forward. After much discussion the group decided to open up a community wide conversation geared toward what the community saw were the deepest needs. We were in for a surprise.
The night of the open forum, we had around 50 community members present. That was a surprise in itself, but what really caught our attention was the outcry of the community geared around the need for tougher drug control. At the close of that day we had the Minneapolis Drug Coalition formed. Over the next 6 months, informational meetings were held at the court house where the community was invited to attend. During these meetings, we learned about the current drug trends of that day - bath salts and potpourri.
These meetings were composed of many different kinds of people. At times we had several different denominations represented - doctors, teachers, policemen, clergy, farmers, unemployed people, and stay at home moms were among some of this community partnership that was formed. The coalition even caught the attention of our state’s senators and accomplished what it set out to do. The law enforcement tightened surveillance around the community and harsher penalties came about for those caught taking drugs in school.
For Minneapolis FUMC to partnership with the community in this way was scary, and at times I felt that the Church lost all control of the partnership, but that is where I had to step back and ask, "is the task at hand being accomplished?" and, "is the community growing closer together?" The answer to both questions is "yes." Then I knew it was a success.