Volume 15, Number 19 | October 1, 2021 | www.citygatenetwork.org  


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Annual Conference Hits the Mark
When we look back on the apex of COVID-19 cases in January of 2021 and the emergence of the Delta variant over the summer, the prospect of having an in-person Annual Conference and Exposition this year was in doubt more than once. But it did happen…in a safe environment…with a huge crowd! More than 900 of us gathered in Baltimore two weeks ago for this year’s big event. There were some pandemic-related inconveniences thrown in, but it didn’t seem to make that much difference for the attendees. Here are some of the many comments we’ve heard:

  • “…thank you for putting together another successful conference experience amidst all the uncertainties of this past year. Our team was unanimous in recognizing that this was the best Citygate Network event ever.”
  • “We had a wonderful time and came away with new relationships and ideas to consider.”
  • “We had a great experience at the conference and are excited to see the long-term fruit from what started [during our time together].”
  • “I’ve enjoyed every Citygate Network conference I’ve attended, but this one was exceptional. Thank you for all your hard work and the heart you put in to giving us an opportunity for professional development and networking—especially in these challenging times.”
  • “You all made my first conference a great experience. I am happy to be part of such a great organization.”

 

“Hidden Trace Retreat” Is Ready for Your Viewing
In Baltimore, we debuted our first Hope in the Gate video, which features singer/songwriter Amy Grant and other artists. What’s unique about this first release, which we are calling “Hidden Trace Retreat” No. 1, is that it brings together three powerful ministry forces: (1) rescue mission dynamics, (2) Christian camping dynamics, and (3) gospel music dynamics. This is a compelling combination, seldom seen as a triad. The rescue mission dynamics address head-on the tough questions regarding life choices and the importance of having a relationship with Christ. The Christian camping dynamics provide the setting for reflection and for God’s still small voice to be heard. The gospel music dynamics tie it all together in original, melodic refrains that aren’t easily forgotten. Next week, Citygate Network will send all members an email with suggestions on how to take advantage of the video and guidelines for member-only usage. But you can view the 15-minute video right now on our website

 

COVID-19 Member Call Upcoming
Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that people experiencing homelessness still show lower vaccination levels than the general population. To keep our members current on recommended protocols and procedures as we enter flu season and the winter months—and to address questions regarding vaccinations and boosters—we’ve scheduled a member-wide call for Thursday, October 14, at 12:00 p.m. (noon) Mountain Time. Dr. Emily Mosites, the CDC’s senior advisor on health and homelessness, will be the lead presenter. Anyone at a Citygate Network member mission or ministry can register to participate here. Jot down your questions now and send them to us so we can pass them along to Dr. Mosites in preparation for the Q&A portion of the call. 

 

Compensation Survey Launches
The 2022 Citygate Network Compensation Report is in process. This every-two-years resource from Citygate Network will feature more than 30 pages of salary and benefits data, tabulated by position, district, and ministry size. The survey link will officially hit CEO’s inboxes on Tuesday, but members can begin filling it out now. It’s critical, however, that only one person from each ministry actually enters the data, so coordination is important. Member ministries that contribute a significant amount of data toward the report by November 5 will receive the report for free in early 2022. 

 

Help Your Guests File for Tax Credits
Citygate Network is co-sponsoring a webinar with the National Association of Evangelicals, The Salvation Army, and the National Latino Evangelical Coalition to promote the new mobile tool available to access the Child Tax Credit (CTC). This flyer provides additional information, or you can register here to participate in this informative session on October 7, 2021, at 3:00 p.m. ET so that you are equipped to help your guests learn more about and claim the money available to them. Former Citygate Network staff member and current board member Nicole Frazier will make a brief presentation on behalf of Citygate Network. 

 

Future Leaders Can Unite Online
If you are a Citygate Network staff member (any position) and are age 39 and under, you are welcome to join our Emerging Leaders cohort, a vibrant group of younger mission and ministry leaders and potential leaders. The group got together a couple times at our recent event in Baltimore, and all those who attended want to continue their conversations and relationships and have you join them. The goal of the group is to facilitate connections, encouragement, growth, and development among the “next” generation of leaders working in life-transformation ministry. Get involved by accessing this special Facebook page

 

Last Call to Get Together in Memphis
The Bluegrass District has organized a huddle for support staff and non-frontline workers who regularly have contact with guests, and they invite all member mission staff within driving distance of Memphis to join them—even those outside the Bluegrass District. Attendees will spend time in worship, fellowship, and discussion on the "Called to Rise Up!" theme. Dr. Bartholomew Orr is the featured speaker, and Citygate Network President John Ashmen will also be in attendance and address the group. Don't miss this opportunity for connection and encouragement. Your $25 registration fee covers breakfast, lunch, snacks, and materials. Registration has been extended through Monday, October 4.

 

Shifting Roles at Citygate Network
We are grateful to Marvin Harrell for his nearly two-year stint as our full-time Director of Communications. Starting today, Marvin has moved into a contractor role with Citygate Network, serving as Social Media and Website Consultant. Many of the member services you receive will still have Marvin’s keystrokes attached to them. Additional changes will be announced in the days ahead as Citygate Network positions itself for an exciting future.

 

Looking Down the Street

  • Hurricane Ida flooded the home base for City Relief (New York, New York) last month, destroying most everything and necessitating extensive demolition and reconstruction. Their generous donors immediately raised more than $75,000 to help with the repairs, and donated hours of time and energy assisting with the cleanup.
  • Join Citygate Network in welcoming The Nehemiah Project (Petoskey, Michigan) into membership in the Great Lakes District. Currently under the leadership of Michael Walker, the organization will need to find a new executive director when he steps down next fall.
  • Keystone Mission (Scranton, Pennsylvania) will hold its 2nd annual REAL TALK event to take place from 3:00 p.m. October 13 to 3:00 p.m. October 14. CEO Justin Behrens will sit on a bench in the Public Square for 24 hours straight to engage in honest talks about homelessness. Last year he “hosted” a range of people who came and sat on the bench with him, from government officials to people experiencing homelessness, and even some who have climbed out of homelessness.
  • The Rescue Mission of Salt Lake (Salt Lake City, Utah) is producing an original recipe book to give to their program graduates as a way to help them transition into making their own simple, healthy meals after leaving the mission. We love hearing about creative and unique ideas our members come up with as they minister to the whole person.

TELL US: Do you have news to share with other network members? Send a blurb to Alice Gifford. Include as many details as possible. We'll handle the editing

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Skid Row Ruling Reversed
According to the Los Angeles Times, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned a judge’s decision that would have required Los Angeles to offer some form of shelter or housing to the entire homeless population of Skid Row by October. They ruled that U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who issued the homelessness order in the spring, failed to follow basic legal requirements and that most of the downtown business owners and residents who sued L.A. city and county had no legal right, or standing, to bring the case. You can read the full 9th Circuit ruling here.

 

Growing for the Greater Good
Carversville Farm, a 388-acre certified-organic spread in rural Pennsylvania looks like a place that caters to high-end chefs. However, this farm’s customers actually work at six soup kitchens and food pantries throughout the Philadelphia area, and don’t pay a dime for any of that meticulously grown food. A husband-and-wife team started the nonprofit farm seven years ago and donates 90 percent of their produce and meat to the chefs working at these six nonprofit emergency food providers. They all place orders for what they want from the farm and receive everything professionally processed, packaged, and delivered on a weekly basis. The high quality of the food the farm provides becomes an entry point to all the other social services these nonprofits offer, opening doors to resources that can change lives.

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Overdose Trends Continue to Escalate
In 2020, more fatal drug overdoses occurred than ever before in history, claiming the lives of tens of thousands of individuals. Current estimates suggest that more than two million people in the U.S. use heroin and almost that many consume opioids without a prescription. The increased demand means that more and stronger drugs are available illicitly, thereby increasing competition and lowering prices. Research suggests that about 70 percent of those who pursue treatment cannot access help due to cost barriers, a lack of available treatment options, or social stigma. Research has proven that addiction is a recurring brain disease, and relapse is not unusual for many users who turn to drugs sporadically, displaying episodes of controlled and uncontrolled use, in addition to periods of sobriety. Since fear of arrest and shame leads many to hide their drug use, the risk of fatal overdose increases because no one is around to provide or summon help. Consider: What programs have you put in place or partnered with to combat the increasing challenges many of your guests face as a result of their addictions?

 

Are We Changing How We “Do Church?”
More than three out of four evangelicals participated in some type of online church services during the pandemic, and many have expressed a desire for that option to continue. Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter Research surveyed over 1,000 churchgoing Christians and released a study revealing some interesting observations about the differences between attending church in person and watching it online. While virtual church earned high marks for personal comfort and provides an easy way to “visit” a variety of churches, 81 percent of respondents rated in-person services better for connection and engagement, 73 percent admitted experiencing more authentic worship in person, 67 percent said they prefer the live music and singing, and 67 percent acknowledge feeling less distracted when attending the service rather than watching it online. You can read the full report here.

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Cost of Living Continues to Rise
Global News reports that Canada’s annual inflation rate climbed to 4.1 percent in August, up from 3.7 percent in July, and marking the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year increases above three percent. Higher gasoline and housing prices accounted for a large portion of that rise in a comparison with the same month in 2020. Gasoline prices have surged by 32.5 percent since August of last year and homeowner replacement costs have risen at an annual rate of 14.3 percent during that same time period. Food manufacturers and restaurant chains have also increased prices as a result of the higher cost of transportation and agricultural commodities. Restaurants have especially struggled to find and keep employees during labor shortages that continue to add pressure to the bottom line.

 

A Canadian Conundrum
Employers in Canada are scrambling to attract or retain workers by offering perks and/or pay increases, yet workers over 55 complain that no one responds to their applications. Age-based discrimination in the workplace caused problems in Canada even before the pandemic, according to Ellie Berger, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Nipissing University. Studies show that older workers experiencing prolonged joblessness report depression and other mental health issues stemming from being considered old and useless. Berger has anecdotal knowledge of many companies that laid off older and higher-paid staff to cut costs during the shutdowns, who have begun hiring again and are replacing those senior employees with younger workers at lower wages. 

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Hispanics Still Underrepresented in Media
In spite of the fact that Hollywood has turned “diversity” into an industry buzzword, statistics don’t show that translating to the screen for the Hispanic community. Of the 1,300 top box office movies made between 2007 and 2019, only 3.5 percent featured a Latino/a lead or co-lead even though that segment of the population has now reached 18.7 percent. Nor do you find much Hispanic representation in network newsrooms or other media industries, including casting directors, or film directors and producers. A recent government report indicated that the absence of representative members of the Hispanic community in these influential roles could deeply impact American perspectives. U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, expressed concern that this underrepresentation leads to a lack of understanding, as well as negative stereotypes, especially when Latinos are primarily portrayed as drug dealers or criminals.

 

Building a Legacy Through Affordable Housing
Bree Jones chose a neighborhood in West Baltimore for her startup nonprofit, Parity, because the community has hundreds of abandoned homes in a primarily black area. Overtime, she plans to renovate 96 abandoned rowhouses located within a 10-block area, using funding from foundations and private investors. Working closely with the local residents, Parity will gut the derelict homes, while preserving the historic elements, and then make them affordable for locals from the community making $40,000 - $60,000 so they can sustain the legacy of the area before gentrification takes over. In addition, the organization will work with existing homeowners to help them keep their current housing and participate in the revitalization process. Jones wants to build a movement among people committed to this idea of equity and social justice, and eventually replicate the model in other cities with minority neighborhoods that have a lot of abandoned homes.

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Market Street

Check out the most recent list of openings on our Careers page.

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Self Care

Studies have shown that “white space” and margin built into our hectic, digital, overly scheduled lives can allow us to function at a more optimal level. Nonetheless, our culture encourages and even admires those who push through events, appointments, and obligations like the Energizer Bunny. Do we slip back into those teenage mentalities and imagine it’s a mark of the “in crowd” to have our lives overflow with activity?

Throughout the gospels, the authors mention Jesus going off to spend time alone. It seems like if the Son of God needed to work in times to get away, perhaps as regular human beings, we should follow that example.

Citygate Network members pour enormous amounts of time and energy into the lives of broken and battered people every day. Whether you realize it or not, this kind of investment on a daily basis can take a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual toll—not to mention the ongoing pandemic, labor shortages, and record-high mental health issues adding to the load.

In what ways do you follow Jesus’ example and create margin in your life to breathe deeply and recharge?

“Are you tired? Worn out? … Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Written by by Alice Gifford, Citygate Network

To contribute: If you would like to write a devotional thought for StreetLight, please make it about 200 words, include at least one Bible verse or passage, and submit via email.

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Street Smart is provided to you as a member service of Citygate Network, and is published on the 1st and 15th of each month (unless those dates fall on a weekend or holiday). The content does not necessarily represent the views of or imply endorsement by Citygate Network. To submit items for publication, email editor@citygatenetwork.org.