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ERR Issue No. 27 - May 2007 - A Path to Manhood, a Mentoring Program for African American Male Youth

 No. 27
May 2007


Resources for the urban pastor and community leader
published by Emmanuel Gospel Center, Boston 
Issue No. 27 — May 2007

In this issue: A Path to Manhood, a Mentoring Program for African American Male Youth

2007 Inner City Ministry Course Student Award Papers
Introduced by Rev. Dr. Gregg Detwiler
One of the most exciting and strategic ministries the Emmanuel Gospel Center has developed over the past three decades is the Inner City Ministry course. Hundreds of ministry practitioners from various ethnic, denominational and ministry backgrounds have taken Gregg Detwilerthe two-semester course, and many testify that it has been transformational to their lives and ministries. EGC President Dr. Doug Hall and his wife, Judy, pioneered the course as an antecedent to Gordon-Conwell’s urban extension, the Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). In time, the course was adopted as a part of CUME’s core curriculum. In more recent years, the teaching team has expanded from the Halls to include other EGC staff including me (Gregg Detwiler) and Jeff Bass as Teaching Fellows, and Michele Mitsumori as Teaching Assistant.
The final “product” of the course is for each student to write a major ministry proposal consisting of four parts: a community analysis, a church or organizational analysis, an analysis of two relevant ministry models and a synthesis of the student’s ministry plan. Many of the past ministry proposal projects written in the Inner City Ministry class are thriving ministries today.
In this issue of the Emmanuel Research Review, we have included three papers from the 2007 Inner City Ministry courses (Boston and Springfield) deserving special recognition. Our congratulations to Talbert W. Swan, II, the 2007 Inner City Ministry Applied Research Award winner, and to Vince Campbell and Frank Tully, the 2007 Inner City Ministry Applied Research Award finalists, and all the students in this year’s course for their hard work and contribution to urban ministry through applied research.
The award winning paper is reproduced below in its entirety. Introductions to the two finalists’ papers are also available below, following the lead paper.

As always, we welcome your feedback! Contact us using the various methods on the right side of this page.

Mentoring - A Path to Manhood

by Talbert W. Swan, II
2007 Inner City Ministry Applied Research Award Winner
A Ministry Proposal for the Solid Rock Church of God in Christ, Springfield, Mass. 
April 31, 2007
Talbert SwanLike many medium-sized American cities, the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, is currently witnessing an increase in the drop-out rate, crime and the number of serious, violent incidents perpetrated by young, African American males. When examining the root causes of these incidents, it is apparent that the current prevalence of the street gang culture is a primary contributing factor. There are several important reasons why society should be concerned with youth involved in gang activity. Gang members commit a disproportionate number of offenses and commit serious and violent offenses at a rate several times higher than non-gang-members (Howell, 1998).1 An evaluation of one gang intervention program in Rochester found, “youth who grow up in more disorganized neighborhoods; who come from impoverished, distressed families; who do poorly in school and have low attachment to school and teachers; who associate with delinquent peers; and engage in various forms of problem behaviors are at increased risk for becoming gang members” (Thornberry, 1998, 157).2
To prevent violence and delinquent behavior among African American males, the chain of events that leads to negative behavior must be broken. Through mentoring, these young men can be taught about the situations or actions that are likely to result in negative behavior, such as associating with negative peers, using alcohol or drugs, and poor academic achievement. Mentors can serve as role models that will influence the social, cultural, spiritual, psychological and personal factors, which can have a positive or negative effect on the developmental process.
Understanding that delinquency and negative behavior among African American males needs to be addressed, I propose a ministry that targets African American male youth that engage in high risk behavior, who are most likely to engage in crime and violent behavior. This target group will include black males who consistently engage in physical fights to resolve problems, those with criminal records, drug users, gang members, or those who have failed or dropped out of school. This group will be assigned mentors and be engaged in activities directed toward reducing negative behavior. The program will be dedicated to the academic and personal growth of black males. The major challenge of the program will be to address the unacceptably low rate of graduation, the increase in delinquent behavior and the lack of role models. The intent of the program is to empower black male youth to identify and access resources that will help them reach their academic and personal goals. The lack of academic and personal achievement experienced by many of them can be addressed through mentoring.
The proposed ministry seeks to expand existing programs of the Solid Rock Church of God in Christ and further its mission by positively affecting the lives of the poor and disenfranchised members of the community through the development of a program that will address the issues frequently cited as factors in many of the critical problems affecting young black men. Such problems include but are not limited to: the number of female headed households; the decreasing number of adult men who represent positive role models; and the extent to which youth frequently lack positive, supporting and continuing relationships with adults who are productive members of the community. Positive adult images, role models and relationships are vitally important for the development of high self-esteem and productive behavior. The male mentoring program will assist youth in making a meaningful transition from adolescence to adulthood. The program will utilize role models and mentors who will serve as guides and “living examples” of responsible adults.


Analysis of the Springfield Community

The Solid Rock Church of God in Christ seeks to be a relevant institution in Indian Orchard, a section of Springfield, Massachusetts; however, the proposed ministry is designed to reach beyond the borders of the Indian Orchard neighborhood and to effect change in the broader Springfield community.
The city of Springfield hosts a resident population of over 152,000, and is the third largest community in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Springfield is a highly diverse community, with a 21% African American population, and 27% of residents self-identified as Hispanic. This diversity is adequately blended across the city’s 17 unique neighborhoods, encompassing a total 33-square-mile area.3
Like any modern American City, in recent years Springfield has been impacted by the failing economy and rise in local unemployment. According to the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Insurance, as of June 2005, 9.5% of Springfield’s labor force was unemployed. The current unemployment represents a 96% increase from the 4.4% unemployment rate of 2000, and equates to more than double the number of unemployed persons. The 2000 census reports that 19% of Springfield families are living below the poverty level, well above the national level of 9%. Combined, these societal and economic factors present an urban community both rich in diversity, but struggling to thrive as a viable source for an individual’s economic and social growth.
At the core of Springfield’s current problem with youth delinquency, gangs, and violence is the number of young residents, particularly African American males that both do not possess the education and social skills required to obtain and maintain employment, and are not provided community alternatives to aid them in growing from troubled youth to law-abiding and productive citizens. Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Springfield residents over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma or GED, compared to 15% in Massachusetts and 20% nationally.4 Springfield has witnessed an alarming volume of delinquent, criminal, and sometimes violent, incidents. One indicator of delinquent and criminal activity is student exclusions (i.e., when a student is punished and “excluded” from school for more than 10 days for activity such as possession of illegal substances, weapon possession, and assault on students or staff). According to the Massachusetts Department of Education, for the 2002-2003 school year, the city of Springfield led the state in student exclusions with 583, followed by Boston (221), Worcester (102), Lawrence (75) and Holyoke (56). The student exclusion rate for Springfield was 21 per 1,000 students, more than five times higher than Boston’s student exclusion rate of 3.6. Further, 17% of Springfield’s exclusions were for possession of a weapon on school grounds, an offense indicative of a climate of both fear and violence.
While illegal activity and social disorder relevant to gang violence and drug and weapons trades are often detected within the school and family environment, the root of these problems emanate on the streets of Springfield. In Springfield, the current street climate has resulted in a significant rise in recent deaths to innocent bystanders, children, and persons involved in criminal activity. In the year 2005, the city experienced 18 homicides alone. Of those deaths, most victims were African American or Latino men between the ages of 17 and 25. In addition to the escalating number of homicides, the city has also experienced rises in other serious and violent crimes, including robbery and larceny. Known as the second poorest city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts behind Holyoke, Springfield was listed in 2005 by Morgan Quitno as the 19th most dangerous city in the United States.5 This makes Springfield the most dangerous city in Massachusetts. While Morgan Quitno uses FBI statistics received by the police department, city officials argue that the crimes are weighted unfairly by measuring all major offenses equally. In 2006, Springfield still ranked highest on the most dangerous list in the state; however, it dropped out of the top 20 nationwide. At the core of Springfield’s current violent crime problem are the “street/block wars” that have a long-standing history of violence in the city.
As an urban community, Springfield is not alone in experiencing this recent rise in violence. However, it also does not have the economic advantages afforded to other communities and has not benefited from financial support necessary to initiate a comprehensive network of community support services. Without the benefit of an innovative, comprehensive and encompassing community-based strategy to combat delinquency and gang-perpetrated street violence, the current wave of violence is expected to both continue and escalate. To curb the current climate and work toward a safer city for the future, it is imperative for the community to work toward deterring delinquency and gang involvement by providing positive alternatives to a negative lifestyle.
The location of the program will be in Indian Orchard, one of Springfield’s most racially and culturally diverse neighborhoods. Indian Orchard has a median household income of approximately $29,889 and unemployment rate of 9.8% with 13% of families having incomes below the poverty level.6 Indian Orchard is a microcosm of the city of Springfield, affected by crime, unemployment and gang violence. With a growing population of African American and Latinos, Indian Orchard is a prime location for a program that will provide mentoring for black male youth. The Indian Orchard neighborhood has two major housing developments, Moxon Projects and Duggan Park Projects, which are predominantly African American. These areas are “hot spots” for gang activity and crime and are frequented by those selling and buying drugs. Several young black males have lost their lives in these areas as a result of the criminal activity, which is so prevalent.
Despite the Indian Orchard neighborhood being home to fourteen houses of worship, including Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Pentecostals, Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Muslims and Jews, no efforts have been made by these groups to address the negative behavior or influence on black males. In fact, few efforts have been made to address issues of delinquency among youth in the area with the exception of youth programs at the Solid Rock Church, New Life Baptist Church and a faith-based youth drop in center known as “The Lion’s Den.”

Analysis of the Solid Rock Church of God in Christ

Through faith in God and compelled by His call to pastoral and social justice ministry, I planted the Solid Rock Church of God In Christ in September 1994. The first church was located in a small storefront on Hampden Street in the Indian Orchard section of Springfield. A new and more permanent home was purchased at 176 Pinevale Street, which opened its doors in 1997. The mission of the church is to win more souls for Christ through evangelism, pastoral care, Christian education, social service delivery, and community development.
Starting with a mere six members, my vision for social justice ministry began to take form. Within two years, the church moved from a storefront property after we purchased our own facility, which includes several acres of land where plans for the erection of a new church are in process. The church is committed to move forward in faith. It continues to build a tradition of community advocacy and empowerment with a mission to create a viable and dynamic community in the Indian Orchard neighborhood, the church’s home since its inception. To this end, the following programs are currently part of the church’s ministerial profile:
  • STAR (Springfield Teens Accepting Responsibility) Program; a peer leadership program geared toward pregnancy prevention with an emphasis on abstinence.
  • TAP (Teens for AIDS Prevention) Program; a youth based program aimed at HIV/AIDS prevention.
  • Growing Angels; an after school program that caters to low to moderate income families.
  • Trumpet in Zion; a media ministry that includes television, radio and internet radio broadcasts and a quarterly newsletter.
  • COGIC Community Services; a faith-based Community Development Corporation.
  • Bread of Life Food Pantry
The evolution of our church from a small group meeting for worship services into a viable ministry making a profound impact on its community did not come without struggle, opposition and transition. With the advent of the mega-church phenomenon, the teaching of a gospel of prosperity and focus on church growth, the ministry of social justice often gets lost on the list of priorities for both well established churches and new church plants. It is often easier to engage people and attract new members with musicals, conferences and other events that create a “feel good” atmosphere and do little to challenge believers to accomplish the Great Commission.
I am convinced that the biblical and theological vision of justice is based on the nature of a God that is active in the world to make right the broken relationships between God and man, and mankind to each other. Any authentic theology must affirm that God is on the side of the oppressed. My understanding of the Bible depicts Jesus within the political and social context of his time as an agent of radical social change. The mission of any church founded on his shed blood should be to “transform the situation of oppression to one of freedom and liberation for the oppressed.”7 Jesus challenged a system of exploitation and greed, violence and political domination, with practices of equality, and nonviolent politics.
Justice is a central theme throughout the biblical narrative. From beginning to end, the Bible repeats the four basic Hebrew and Greek words used for justice over 1000 times. The Old Testament prophets taught that the way to avoid judgment was to return to God and practice justice. Jesus identifies with this prophetic tradition and criticized those in authority who neglected justice.
With social justice as the foundation of our mission, Solid Rock endured heavy turnover in membership for the first six years of its existence. Many people who were attracted to the church through a cable television broadcast we started in 1996, became disenchanted with the ministry’s heavy focus on empowering the poor and effecting change in the community. Those who left the ministry felt that the church should have focused its energies on church growth and creating programs that serve the membership as opposed to community engagement. The “roll up your sleeves and work” expectation turned away many who wanted their church experience to consist of worship and Bible study alone.
The church’s modest accommodations and limited budget was problematic for professional types, who felt their image would suffer for casting their membership at a small membership church without a grand edifice and full-time minister. Even today, Solid Rock’s membership consists mainly of people on the middle to low socio-economic scale. In the past seven years, however, the ministry has stabilized with a faithful membership that has embraced the church’s mission to not merely have a physical presence in the community. The church has grown from 47 members in 1998 to a current membership of 195, which includes 140 active members. Over the past three years, we have experienced steady growth from 124 members in 2004.
Solid Rock has reassessed its programs and activities on many occasions as we experienced failure by defining what was needed in the community and operating from the top down without community “buy-in.” We have learned to work alongside our community and to develop a covenantal relationship that has stabilized our effectiveness and influence. Today, we remain engaged with our surrounding community and culture and at the vanguard of positive social change. Our church takes seriously the Christian command to spread the Gospel, feed the hungry, heal the broken-hearted, build shelter for the homeless, clothe the naked and give to those who are lost an undying hope in Jesus Christ.

Ministry Models

The negative impact of a lack of role models is evident in the educational accomplishments and criminal and mortality rates of young black males. Research on the influences of male mentoring with young black males suggests that such programs are effective with this population. As such, I will explore the following two models: (1) the All Stars Program and (2) the Rites of Passage Program. Both models are scientifically based and have been operated by various agencies across the country. Their acceptance as effective programs among governmental agencies and philanthropic organizations increases the likelihood of both private and/or public funding.
(A discussion of the two Ministry Models for this paper are posted on a separate webpage.)

Developing a Male Mentoring Ministry in Springfield

The Solid Rock male mentoring program will incorporate some of the components of both the All Stars Program and the Rites of Passage Program. The program will be called A Path to Manhood and will be assisting black male youth and their families in the transition from boyhood to manhood. Christina Grof defines rites of passage as follows:
Rites of passage are a category of rituals that mark the passage of a person through the life cycle, from one stage to another over time, from one role or social position to another, integrating the human and cultural experiences with biological destiny: birth, reproduction, and death. These ceremonies make the basic distinctions, observed in all groups, between young and old, male and female, living and dead.8
In our society, the practice and meaning of formally sanctioned rites of passage have all but disappeared. Young men stumble and fall and wander around in a gray area of not knowing how to respond, which has pervasive effects throughout adolescence and beyond.
Young men need to be guided and mentored through their tumultuous teenage years, experiencing the challenges of daring and risk sanctioned by role models within the community. Today, in the absence of such role models, young men largely are left to their own devices to satisfy their hunger for belonging and to be respected. The church is uniquely poised to fill a serious vacuum within the community and to provide the necessary role models these young men need to help them on their journey from childhood to the status of teenager and then to a state of adulthood. With its commitment to social justice and ties to the community, Solid Rock Church is positioned to be supportive in this way.
If we look at what is currently going on in the Indian Orchard neighborhood and in the Springfield community at large, the escalating problems with young males are clearly evident. This is manifest in below standard school performance, violence, inability to connect well with others, isolation, addictions, poor relationship management, work disenchantment, gang-related crimes and suicide. Underpinning these symptoms is the need to belong, low self-esteem, and the drive to become a man and have adult respect. In the absence of sanctioned processes of transition, and effective role models to acknowledge and support a young man’s journey, these males seek out their own initiations through dangerous and risky behavior. The other option open to them is to become spiritless and collapse their being into a state of compliance. In this way, they do not grow into responsible and respectful men with a strong sense of self. Those that survive the turbulence of these trials, grow into men who exhibit strong tendencies towards aggression, intolerance, and prejudice. Either way, the true soul of the male spirit is dead in these men.
By male spirit, I mean men who embody responsibility, respect, authenticity, caring, compassion, understanding, strength of purpose, loyalty, social and environmental consciousness, and a willingness to protect family and community.
Joseph Campbell writes, “boys everywhere have a need for rituals marking their passage to manhood. If society does not provide them they will inevitably invent their own.”9 For many young black males, the driving force during the emotional time of adolescence is the pressure to conform, perform and win respect. It is a time when they begin to experience the tension between independence and belonging. Identities are being formed in the emerging adult, boundaries of social groups and communities are making their demands on these boys.
Too often, the focus of assigning blame for problems occurs in our society and there is little possibility to explore the depth of the issue. When we consider that it is solely the young man who has the problem, the inquiry becomes significantly limited. When we consider that it is not the young man that is the problem, it causes us to look at the environment, the sociopolitical and economic circumstances surrounding the individual. Then a different picture emerges. In this scenario, we can clearly see the role that society plays in the occurrence of the problem and how that social structure has affected the individual and the event under question. If society played a significant role in creating the problem, it should also play a role in solving the problem.
I believe the most powerful institution in society is the church, and therefore, the task to build up the youth with regard to self-esteem, meaning of life, recognition by respected adults, and support through sanctioned rites of passage should be a mission of the church.
The overall goal of the program will be to provide a system of activities and instruction for black male youth that prepares them spiritually, physically, socially, emotionally, intellectually and culturally for passage into adulthood.
Spiritually: Prayer, Bible study and other activities that teach God’s word and prepare participants to develop a meaningful relationship with the Lord.
Physically: Periodic workouts that are designed to stimulate and strengthen bodily functions (i.e., martial arts training).
Socially: Participation in various events that require students to interact with various segments of people in society.
Emotionally: The use of role play activities that focus on day to day occurrences that may require emotional responses (e.g., stress and conflict resolution exercises).
Culturally: Exposure to all aspects of various cultures and an examination of the differences among various cultures globally.
Intellectually: Develop the ability to use one’s resources to expand ones knowledge base.


  • To improve the quality of health and health practices among youth.
  • To reinforce the values presented that are symbolic of entrance into adulthood.
  • To promote and encourage positive self images.
  • To define the role of participants in the development of their community, families and relationships.
  • To pair a student with a mentor that will share personal successes and assist the student in laying out a life plan for success.




A Path to Manhood will provide black males with both academic and personal mentoring. Mentoring is essential because it allows students to see a tangible example of what their hard work and dedication can attain. Mentors model positive behavior while providing a willing ear, where there otherwise might be none, either at school or at home. Academic mentoring includes individual and group tutoring, PSAT and SAT preparation, study skills training, exposure to college life and assistance with the college application and financial aid process. Personal mentoring includes advising, counseling, group and individual outings, exposure to community issues and speakers. Mentor/mentee groups work together to develop common goals.
A Path to Manhood will match 25 youth with positive role models. Matches will be based on background, and academic and personal compatibility. The mentor to mentee ratio goal is 1:2.


Potential mentees will include both high achieving youth and some of the most at-risk and the lowest achieving students in the Springfield community. The target group is individuals dealing with academic and social/peer pressures, which may have resulted in a lack of achievement and/or behaviors developed by a lack of coping skills. Unfortunately, a dynamic has been created where the social acceptance of many students means conforming to certain negative behavior (i.e. poor class attendance, disrespectful behavior, and weak academic effort). The ideal mentee is a participant who has demonstrated the self-motivation to move beyond this dynamic and strive toward their potential. Program mentees will fall into three categories: (1) not on track to graduate because of a lack of credits; (2) on track to graduate, but in “regular” track courses doing just enough to pass; (3) currently in challenging “advanced” classes, but dealing with an intense workload and the social and cultural pressures of being one of only a few students of a certain ethnic background in such sections.
Potential participants will show their interest in joining Rites of Passage through a pre-application and interview process with help from parents, teachers and/or guidance advisors. The program’s goal is to provide role models for its mentees to help them achieve greater personal and academic success. Ultimately, these students will act as role models for other students. Program mentees will be required to contact their mentors at least once a week.
The Path to Manhood Program will provide an opportunity for:
  • Academic advising
  • Tutoring
  • Career/college exploration
  • SAT preparation
  • Widening one’s worldview
  • Spiritual growth and development
Mentees will be expected to finish all of their school assignments on time and will help to create and maintain their academic plan, participate in group projects in class to further their understanding of and involvement in the community. They will also learn more about the heritage of various cultures, and will be exposed to a variety of speakers, materials and ideas that motivate them toward creative thinking.


Mentors will work with groups of one to two mentees organized by academic level. Mentors will make a minimum three-hour weekly commitment that includes at least one personal contact and two phone conversations weekly. Mentor development will be furthered through bimonthly meetings, led by a Mentor Coordinator, which will be organized to help mentors hone their skills and provide better support for their mentees both academically and socially. Importantly, the program will offer mentors an opportunity to receive direct support from their peers.
To maintain a sincere involvement in their mentees’ academic growth, mentors will prepare and maintain their mentees’ academic plan and maintain appropriate contact with their teachers. Mentors will also plan weekly outings with their mentees. To maintain a sincere involvement in their mentees’ personal growth, mentors will visit their mentees’ homes at least once a month if possible.
Mentors will be recruited from amongst the church membership and within the community. Mentors will be asked to submit to a CORI check to safeguard the youth and to ensure the integrity of the program and the Church.


The involvement of mentee parents and guardians will be vital to the success and promotion of the program. However, in some cases, the program will take participants whose parents/guardians are not involved in their lives or interested in being active. Despite these cases, I firmly believe that parent participation will be vital to the program’s success. Accordingly, a parent group will meet on a bimonthly basis to discuss, plan and follow through on ways that they can better support their children. Additionally, the parent group will work with other local parent groups to achieve their goals. I expect parents to work closely with mentors to provide the structure and modeling necessary to support their children in their efforts.
I anticipate being able to staff the program by experienced church members who work in human services and volunteer mentors from both the church and the community. We will seek private and public funding and will also set aside monies from our budget to support the program. The staffing pattern and budget will be developed by a planning committee consisting of key stakeholders, including church members, potential mentors, youth and community residents.


While the benefits of mentoring are evident, there are varieties of reasons that may cause the effort to be counterproductive or to fail to be effective. I did not find any studies that examined why such programs fail, and the information on the models I selected only detailed program successes.
In order for our program to be successful, it must have a reasonable level of support from within our organization. I believe there will be significant resistance to the idea of utilizing mentors that are not members of the church and who may not be of the same religious background. Support is also needed from various organizations that mentors are affiliated with. Mentors may need to take time out from work for meetings and activities.
There will also be growing pains as we attempt to bring about clarity of purpose within the mentor/mentee relationship. There will be a need for continued training and cultural competence for mentors to relate to disaffected youth. Youth will differ in their levels of learning and maturity, self-esteem and the resources that they have. The varying backgrounds of mentees will require different approaches to mentoring.
A failure on our part to properly clarify what we intend and/or to properly train mentors can cause confusion, argument and misalignments of expectation between mentees, mentors and our church organization.
We may also face interpersonal problems from the reactions of people, who may not be included in the pairings - for example, the mentee’s parents or peers or the spouses and family members of mentors. Issues may hinge around incompatibility of personalities and personal values between mentor and mentee. The failure to get “buy-in” from stakeholders affiliated with the participants may be detrimental to the program. In my experience with operating human service programs, resentment from people not included is common and can undermine the effectiveness of well-intentioned programs.
Finally, procedural problems may arise from the way we operate the program or how relationships are managed. While the spontaneity and individual focus of effective mentoring cannot be smothered by micromanagement, we cannot simply pair a mentor and mentee and leave the rest up to them. When mentoring relationships run into difficulty, or participants need advice, there must be provisions to support them.
I don’t believe we can avoid counterproductive results; however, we can spend time thinking through what the program is meant to achieve and how each aspect of it should be managed, supported and measured. We can engage stakeholders in the planning in order to identify barriers to success. Additional measures that we can implement to avoid pitfalls are as follows:
  • Selection of Mentors: Not everyone will make a good mentor. We will be careful to select mentors who have the depth of self-awareness that characterize an effective mentor. Usually, the more convinced someone is that they are a “natural” mentor, the more lethal they are likely to be.
  • Training: Program success will hinge on proper training of mentors. Without proper training, the mentoring relationship may not provide significant results for either party.
  • Ongoing Support: Initial training will not be enough to give mentors more than a basic level of competence and confidence. Mentors will need access to continued advice on how to do the role and develop their skills.


End Notes

1 Howell, J.C., Comparing the Criminal Behavior of Youth Gangs and at-Risk Youth, Research in Brief. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1998.
2 Thornberry, T., "Membership in Youth Gangs and Involvement in Serious and Violent Offending, In Serious and Violent Offenders: Risk Factors and Successful Interventions, (eds.) R. Loeber and D.P. Farrington. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1998
3 2000 U.S. Census
4 Ibid
5 Morgan Quitno, 12th Annual America’s Safest and Most Dangerous Cities, 2005
6 2000 U.S. Census
7 Yoder, Perry. Shalom: The Bible’s Word for Salvation, Justice and Peace, Newton, KS: Faith and Life Press,1987, page 25.
8 Grof, Christina, Crossroads, The Quest for Contemporary Rites of Passage, Open Court, Illinois, 1996, page 5
9 Campbell, Joseph, Gangs, Rituals & Rites of Passage, African Sun Press, Cape Town, 1997, page 17.


All Stars. “Their Future. Your Vision. Our Mission.” Tanglewood Research, 2004. http://www.allstarsprevention.com/ (May 2007).
Campbell, Joseph. Quoted in Don Pinnock, Gangs, Rituals & Rites of Passage. Cape Town, South Africa: African Sun Press, 1997.
Howell, J. C. Comparing the Criminal Behavior of Youth Gangs and at-Risk Youth, Research in Brief. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Linthicum, Robert C. Empowering the Poor: Community Organizing Among the City’s “Rag, Tag and Bobtail.” Monrovia, Calif.: MARC Publications, 1991.
Mahdi, Louise Carus, Nancy G. Christopher, and Michael Mead, eds. Crossroads: The Quest for Contemporary Rites of Passage. Chicago:Open Court Press, 1996.
National Rites of Passage Institute. 2002. www.ritesofpassage.org (May 2007).
Quitno, Morgan. 12th Annual America’s Safest and Most Dangerous Cities, 2005.
Thornberry, Terence P. “Membership in Youth Gangs and Involvement in Serious and Violent Offending,” In Serious and Violent Offenders: Risk Factors and Successful Interventions, edited by Rolf Loeber and David P. Farrington, 147-166. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1998.
United States Census, 2000
Yoder, Perry. Shalom: The Bible’s Word for Salvation, Justice and Peace. Newton, KS: Faith and Life Press, 1987.

Talbert W. Swan, II, is the pastor of Solid Rock Church of God in Christ in Springfield, Mass. He has Bachelor’s Degrees in Theology and Computer Science, a Master of Theology Degree, and graduate certificates in urban ministries and faith-based economic development. He is a two-term member of the Alumni Council at Hartford Seminary, a member of the Black Alumni Council of the Harvard Divinity School and the former National Chaplain for Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. He also is the proud father of six children: Whitney, Shannon, Eryca, Drystal, Talbert, III and Lezine.
Rev. Talbert W. Swan, II
Solid Rock Church of God in Christ
176 Pinevale Street
Indian Orchard, MA 01151

Congratulations to Vince Cambell and Frank Tully, the 2007 Inner City Ministry Applied Research Award Finalists. Executive summaries of their papers are posted below:

Social Justice and Reconciliation: New Wineskins

by Vince Campbell
Program Director, New City Scholars Program
Emmanuel Gospel Center, Boston
Vince CampbellThe history of the Christian church has been plagued since its inception with division along ethnic, theological, socio-economic and racial lines. This is a legacy that no Christian church has been without. Similarly, however not as frequent, the separation of social action and individual piety (i.e. the spiritual and physical aspects of church ministry) has been a negative trend in several manifestations of Christianity in various historical contexts. Although, there have been several theologians and groups of Christians throughout history that have gone against these negative inclinations, there has never been a Christian church that has embodied the antithesis of these trends in its theological confession: that both the global and the local church is divinely mandated to be racially and socio-economically reconciled and a powerful agent of social change.
The following proposal explains in greater detail a vision for working toward God’s desire for his church: unity. More specifically, this vision is of a Christian denomination that is characterized chiefly by a theological and ministerial commitment to social justice and reconciliation. This denomination will be made up of community-based, multicultural, urban house churches around the world. These individual churches will function autonomously under the greater vision of embodying the values of justice and reconciliation relative to their respective contexts. The second part of the vision is the formulation of a theological seminary where deep theological reflection can further sharpen the vision of the church and train future pastors, leaders, theologians and exegetes for ministry within this tradition. Currently operating seminaries and urban churches will be consulted for further exposition of this vision.
…for more (click to download/open entire paper in Word doc)
Born and raised in St. Louis, Vince Campbell serves at the Emmanuel Gospel Center as Program Director for the New City Scholars Program, fostering college success for urban students through the College Success Initiative (a component of the Boston Education Collaborative). Vince is also entering his third year of his Masters of Divinity program at Gordon Conwell’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education. He and his wife, Diana Mojica, minister as pastoral interns at Cambridge Community Fellowship Church in the Central Square neighborhood of Cambridge, Mass.
Vince Campbell 
Emmanuel Gospel Center
PO Box 180245
Boston, MA 02118-0994

Young Adult Catholic Evangelization in Allston/Brighton Community

by Frank Tully
Coordinator of the Pierce Center at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Boston Campus, The Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME)
Staff with The Navigators’ Greater Boston Metro Mission
Frank TullyYoung Adult Catholics are one of the largest “unreached people groups” in Greater Boston. These men and women still consider “Catholic” as significant to their primary identity, but intentionally disassociate from the institutional Church and to varying degrees from any awareness of Christ in their lives. As increasing numbers distance themselves from the Church, the “Cohort Effect” outweighs any likelihood of a Life Cycle return which prior generations experienced – we have gone beyond the “tipping point.”1
Studies indicate that Young Adult Catholics demonstrate virtually no integration between the Church’s teachings and their life choices. This is from the absence of any meaningful young adult ministry in local parishes, from few small groups for Young Adults, from lack of relevant teaching on doctrine and scripture, and from broader social community.2 Given the significance of the next generation on the vitality of the Church and the dramatic drop-off in church life for those in their 20’s and 30’s, this proposal addresses the need for renewed evangelization in a relevant manner to lapsed Young Adult Catholics.
The Allston-Brighton community is “home” (at least temporarily) for many in their 20’s and 30’s; and St. Ignatius parish, adjacent to Boston College, offers various programs designed for young adults who already engage in the life of the parish. This proposal seeks to enhance existing ministries by extending focus to those beyond the walls of the church. The most significant factor in the proposal will be for the mobility of the Gospel, advancing through relationships naturally in a manner which reinforces a tentative Catholic identity.
…for more, contact Frank Tully directly at his email address below to request a copy of his paper.


1 Dean R. Hoge, William D. Dinges, Mary Johnson & Juan L. Gonzales, Jr., Young Adult Catholics:Religion in the Culture of Choice (Univ. Notre Dame, 2001) p. 18.
Hoge, p. 225.

Frank Tully serves as Coordinator of the Pierce Center at Gordon-Conwell’s Boston Campus, The Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). Frank also leads The Navigators’ Greater Boston Metro Mission, a ministry focused upon advancing the Gospel though generations of lifetime laborers among the diverse peoples of Boston and into the world. He earned a Master of Divinity Degree in Urban Ministry at Gordon-Conwell, having previously received a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts and J.D. from DePaul University. He previously served with The Navigators in Sydney, Australia, following 12 years of law practice in Chicago. Frank and his wife, Deborah, are blessed with three children: Laura, Kevin and Brian.
Frank Tully 
Pierce Center, CUME
90 Warren St.
Roxbury, MA 02119
ftully @ gcts.edu
617.427.7293 x6209