“It takes God to be a Black man.”
Black Lives Matter. Mass Incarceration. Urban Violence. Police Brutality. Gang Activity. Academic Achievement Gap. Food Insecurity. Racial Disparities. Over the last several years, these words and others have tumbled around in the public consciousness–been batted about on social media, flitted across the lips of politicians, earned Ph.D’s and million dollar book deals. But for all that talk, it is as true today as it was when we started thirty years ago, our public institutions don’t really care about black boys.
Our ministry finds us standing beside our black boys wherever life takes them, from the basketball court to a courtroom, from school suspensions to college graduations, from a funeral to a baptism. While many today discuss what this world should and should not be for black boys, working in the inner city is about preparing them for what it is: hard, predatory and unforgiving. For the boys in our community, it makes little difference if the larger issues that hound their families–and will continue to chase them throughout their life–are the national topic of discussion.
Our boys are not numbers, news stories or hashtags. Neither are they victims or villains. They are little boys and young men who need to be loved and to be taught how to be strong, proud black men, to be strong husbands, fathers and leaders in society. We feel that instilling a strong sense of who they are in Christ will meet that goal.
Chris and Lisa
Chris is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Minnesota Annual Conference. He holds a Bachelors from McMurry College in Abilene, Texas, a Master of Divinity from Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky and received his Doctorate of Ministry from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
He is best known for his work with Black boys in the inner city. He has published Young Lions: Christian Rites of Passage for African American Young Men, a rites of passage curriculum for church leaders and youth workers who lead African American boys in urban settings. Not Forsaken: Growing Up Black, Male, and Christian in the Hood, his soon forthcoming next book, is about his experiences ministering to Black boys, expounding on over three decades of work in the unseen communities of America.
Lisa graduated with a Bachelors from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota and completed her Masters at the University of Minnesota. She has also studied at Bethel Seminary and has a certificate in Spiritual Direction from the Christos Center for Spiritual Formation in Lino Lakes, Minnesota. Her career has included serving as teacher, academic advisor, youth worker and school counselor.
Today, she provides Spiritual Direction for individuals and in group settings and shares in the organizational management of Christ’s Children, which may include anything from record keeping and communications to event planning and logistical needs. Lisa’s ministry also includes things like feeding hungry kids and counseling those in crisis, but her favorite thing is helping people pay attention to the activity of God in their everyday lives.
Over the years we have been honored to build a base of volunteers, many of them adults who were once children in our ministry. Today, all of our activities are supported by staff and volunteers who we have carefully selected primarily from our neighborhood and church family.
It is a particular joy to have adults who were once children in our ministry to offer their time and talents and one of the most rewarding parts of our work is seeing our spiritual children grow in strength and wisdom to the point where they in turn can mentor to others.
Our Board of Directors
Linda Tate (Chairperson)
Park Avenue United Methodist Church — Minister of Congregational Care and Human Resources
Debbie Okerlund (Vice Chair)
Lead With Agility Coaching
Raquel Bloom (Treasurer/Secretary)
Licensed Journeyman Electrician, I.B.E.W.
Dr. Jon Urban
Independent Consultant, R2D Biomed
Rev. Dr. Chris McNair (ex-officio)