Connecting Churches, Transforming Indy

By Jennifer Johnson

Lots of churches in Indianapolis are working to help people in poverty. City Mosaic is helping those churches work together.

“We realized many churches were doing their own thing in silos, with no coordinated partnership,” says Stacia Murphy, communications director at City Mosaic. “We exist to connect those churches and help them work together to transform and empower the communities of our city.”

About 3,000 people attended City Mosaic’s “Hope for the City” event on Monument Square in downtown Indianapolis on Oct. 12, 2014.
About 3,000 people attended City Mosaic’s “Hope for the City” event on Monument Square in downtown Indianapolis on Oct. 12, 2014.

The three-year-old organization has developed initiatives in education, housing, job creation, family transformation, and church revitalization to accomplish this goal. Volunteers serve as tutors in several of the city’s elementary schools; church partners and individuals buy and rehab abandoned houses; mentors work long-term with families to provide holistic support and life skills coaching and equip them to assume ownership of these homes; local business leaders and artisans develop small businesses and lead apprenticeships and job creation strategies; and teams provide training and tools to “front-line” urban

Relationships are key to City Mosaic, and Executive Director Greg Strand places a high value on cultural understanding.

“The suburban, urban, and midtown churches have different needs to some extent and also different understandings of the issues,” Murphy says. “So we bring the lead pastors of a variety of churches together to get to know each other. This often means getting everyone together around a table, often at Greg’s house. He spent two years building rapport with area pastors before jumping into the work.”

A number of Christian churches in Indianapolis have gotten involved, including Connection Pointe Christian Church of Brownsburg, East 91st Street Christian Church, Traders Point Christian Church, Indian Creek Christian Church, and Plainfield Christian Church.

Murphy says leaders also need to realize it’s not just about the more-
resourced suburban churches helping the urban ones; both groups have things to learn from each other.

City Mosaic’s goals this year include beginning work in five more elementary schools and rehabbing several more homes to use strategically for

“We may use one for teen moms or juveniles coming out of a detention center, or it may become a home for a church family with a heart to live there and be a ‘missionary’ to that area,” she says. “Greg has done that—he made a 20-year commitment to his neighborhood. That’s the way to build connections with people and discover the real needs that will make a long-term difference.”

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