James Mulholland is a pastor, an author and holds the title "Community Builder" for our partner organization Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND). He has traveled to my neighborhood to visit Koinonia Farm where he visited and offered workshops. Today I had the opportunity and pleasure to meet Jim for the first time. He took time out of his busy schedule to give me a tour around the community and show me the amazing things that SEND has been working on. As one of the early organizers of SEND and a resident of the Fountain Square community, he enjoys his calling to serve his community.
Jim told me that he spends little time in the office as most of his time is spent in the neighborhood helping people deal with issues that matter to them. He pointed out a bench in front of the Family Dollar and said: that was put there by the We Can neighborhood association. It was a nice bench in the shade of the store overhang roof and I noticed that there were no bars on it like so many of the urban benches that we see. Bars are often placed on benches and flat spaces to prevent homeless people from having a "comfortable" place to sleep. This was just an inviting bench in front of a neighborhood store. He then told me that he wanted to get out to our build site earlier in the morning, but he was called by some residents to help break up a pit bull dog fight. The neighbors suspect that dog fighting gambling activity is becoming more of a problem and the police were reluctant to come this morning. Jim was able to get animal control to the scene.
When asked his opinion about the most important faith statement of a volunteer build he said that it is "community." He expounded on his thinking a bit further and said, "I see the Holy Spirit working in and through the community and that’s where we need to be. We need to watch where the Holy Spirit is at work and go there."
When I asked if he likes being a pastor or a community organizer better, he chuckled and said, "The community work is more fulfilling because as a pastor I was always trying to get my congregations to invest more in social ministries."
And then he told me about an experience that crystallized his thinking on the difference. He said, "I walked into a local church one afternoon for a meeting with some folks trying to improve their community. At the same time there was a Bible study going on in the same building. I asked my self, "Which meeting would Jesus likely attend?" And I realized that he would most likely attend the community organizing meeting."
Before I ever met Jim, I was a fan of his thinking and writing. Now I’m even a bigger fan of his action.
When Jim dropped me off back at the build site to go on to his next appointment, I noticed a sign hanging on the corner that read "God is Great. God is Good. God is in our neighborhood." That about sums it up.
Blessings and have a great evening. See you at morning devotions!
More about SEND from their website:
The 1970s were a difficult time for the southeast side of Indianapolis. The construction of I-65 destroyed thousands of homes, hundreds of businesses, and many key schools and churches, while cutting a unified neighborhood into isolated pockets. The problem was compounded by the nationwide effects of suburban flight and disinvestment in urban neighborhoods.
So a group of forward-thinking residents and businesspeople working out of the Southeast Multi-Service Center began leading small home repair and urban design projects. On February 23, 1983, this group incorporated as the Fountain Square & Fletcher Place Investment Corporation. At the same time, a second group grew out of neighborhood churches to form the Fountain Square Church & Community Project, and attracted hundreds of volunteers from around the region to rebuild affordable homes.
Several years later, these groups merged to form Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND). Since 1991, SEND has invested more than $35 million dollars in affordable housing, commercial renovation, youth development, and greenspace improvements. SEND has:
These efforts have made a vast difference. Today, property values have increased approximately 90%, allowing home owners to maintain and improve their homes with confidence that they can recover their money. A growing number of new residents are investing SEND neighborhoods with leadership and new ideas. Vital services such as a quality library, a police station, and a new health clinic meet resident needs. Businesses are now acquiring space in the Fountain Square commercial area—and Fountain Square is now one of six Indianapolis Cultural Districts.