Urban Ministry


Hydroponic growing tower, Union Presbyterian Church

A hydroponic growing tower, part of the Urban Give Farms project hosted at Union Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. Photo by Andrew Kang Bartlett, PHP

In the midst of major demographic, economic and social changes taking place in our metropolitan areas and cities, we want to lift up the work of many Presbyterians who are faithfully working for justice and peace, seeking the welfare of the city, and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The 221st General Assembly in Detroit, June 2014, approved the policy paper, The Gospel  from Detroit:  Renewing the Church’s Urban Vision, developed by The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy. The policy paper stated in its first recommendation:

“Commend the efforts of Presbyterians in city congregations and presbyteries that embody an urban Christian vision; who see the urban poor as clearly as the glittering skyscrapers; who seek to understand urban trends theologically and ethically; and who unite ministries of mercy and justice with evangelism, education, and cultural outreach, recalling our heritage of urban mission leadership and working to renew or build new worship communities grounded in a creative Reforming spirit.”

Urban Ministry Spotlight

South Presbyterian Church, Rochester, NY | ‘Acts of Faith’ model of ministry takes ‘church’ to Rochester

Isaiah’s Table, Syracuse, NY | Grace, Hope, Food for All

New Hope Presbyterian Church, Orange, CA | Building a Symphony of Hope

Trinity Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, WA | Carrying love out the church doors and into the community

Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church, Chicago, IL | Choosing Compassion

An Alternative Narrative in Rochester, New York? | Considering how to continue the mission of Calvary-St. Andrews

The Open Table, Kansas City, MO | A community of peace and reconciliation in a city divided

Resurrecting Caldwell Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, NC | growth built on gracious hospitality (video)

Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church, Louisville, KY | Seniors, students, music and more

Volunteer Sites

(These volunteer sites are not hosted, sponsored, or related to the Presbyterian Mission Agency.)

The Pilgrimage | Church of the Pilgrims, Washington, D.C.

St. Louis Urban Mission Camp | First Presbyterian Church of Ferguson, MO

Mission Immersion Camp | Lexington, KY

The Center: Where Compassion Meets Justice | Baltimore, MD

Project Hospitality | Staten Island, NY

Broad Street Ministry | Philadelphia, PA

Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community | Pittsburgh, PA

First Presbyterian Church (Urban GAPS) | Fort Worth, TX

OGHS Engagement Map | Find where OGHS gifts are at work and opportunities for service

Connect with Others

Regional teams are developing across the United States, working in partnership with other faith-based and community-based groups to support and resource one another, collaborate on similar issues/projects, and effectively address local metro urban issues.

If you are local to one of the following areas, you may contact the following people to ask about participating:

  • Baltimore, MD – Tanya Wade, Grace Presbyterian Church
  • Charlotte, NC – Flo Watkins, Seigle Avenue Presbyterian Church
  • Chicago, IL – David Thornton, Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church
  • Cleveland, OH – Carmen Cox Harwell, St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, Beachwood
  • Detroit – Kevin Johnson, Calvary Presbyterian Church
  • Kansas City, MO — Rev. Dr. Vernon Howard, St. Mark Union Church; and Rev. Eric Garbison, Presbyterian Urban and Immigrant Ministry Network of Heartland Presbytery
  • Los Angeles – Carlton Rhoden, Westminster Presbyterian Church
  • New York/Northern New Jersey – Bob Brashear, West Park Presbyterian Church
  • Philadelphia – Adan Mairena – West Kensington Ministry
  • Richmond, VA – Nelson Reveley
  • San Antonio, TX – Tom Heger
  • St. Louis, MO – Cedric Portis, Third Presbyterian Church

If you are interested in organizing a regional network in your metro/urban area or have questions about this initiative, please contact Phil Tom at ox_49@yahoo.com.

Upcoming Conferences/Training Events

Church, Race and Politics in a Polarized Society October 5 – November 16, Thursdays 7-9 p.m. at Wesley Seminary downtown campus, Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C.

The Twenty-Fourth Annual George W. Webber Lecture in Urban Ministry New York Theological Seminary, Thursday, October 19, 2017, 7:00 p.m. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nyts-2017-webber-lecture-tickets-37387207143

Certificate in Community Organizing and Congregational Leadership NEXT Church, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, and Metro Industrial Areas Foundation are teaming up to offer a Certificate in Community Organizing and Congregational Leadership. Program consists of:

  • Intensive in-person training, October 23-27, 2017 in Baltimore, MD, followed by
  • 6-month distance learning cohort to integrate the training into your work; occurs 1-2 times per month from November – April (exact dates still to be scheduled).

The program is open to clergy, laypeople, community leaders, seminarians, and others interested in organizing and community engagement. Participants must be 21 years or older to register.

Gamaliel National Community Organizing Training

Direct Action and Training Center (DART) Organizers Institute Begins January 8, 2018 and August 13, 2018 – includes an intensive 4-day classroom training followed by five months of infield training. Field training involves weekly training sessions guided by Lead Organizers, specific goals and objectives, and readings and reflections in conference with DART Center staff.

Northern Seminary’s new Master of Arts in Urban Leadership will train culturally competent ministers for urban communities – Lombard, IL

Other sources of Urban Ministry Training

Urban Institute
Urban’s mission is to open minds, shape decisions, and offer solutions through economic and social policy research.

Educates and trains faith leaders to mobilize communities inter-racially, inter-culturally, and inter-religiously for justice, inclusivity and peace.

New York Theological Seminary 
A diverse and inclusive community of learning grounded in biblical witness and Christian tradition, with a historic urban focus. The Seminary prepares women and men for faith-based ministries in the city and throughout the world.

Pittsburgh Metro Urban Institute
With more than 80 percent of all USA residents and 50 percent of the global population living in and around urban centers, the Metro-Urban Institute prepares Christian leaders for the challenges of urban contextual ministry.


Please see the specific scope and requirements for each grant, and use contact information that is provided by the entity offering the grant.

Print, Video and Online materials related to Urban Ministry

Downloadable media and other related sources of information

  • Educate a Child
    The ministry of many urban churches (and others) around the nation connects with the major foci of the Educate a Child Initiative: strengthening early childhood education and reducing the dropout rate of adolescents.  Educate a Child, Transform the World brochure
  • Seven Samples of Urban Ministry
    Report on National Capital Presbytery’s 2015 Urban Visioning Network Dialogues (73 pages)
  • The Global Metropolitan Revolution
    TED talk (video) by Bruce Katz, Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program. “City power and problem solving are going to define this century the same way that national power and problem solving defined the last …. Embrace the metropolitan revolution.”
  • Creating Pathways for New Life in Urban Congregations—Stories, testimonies, conversations, and observations of 12 congregations who handled change and opportunity (follow up to the Vital Signs of Urban Congregations resource); order free from PDS


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