There are very few people that I have met around the globe who have not only adopted the belief that we are called to Transform Communities but are actually living it out with commitment and passion. Brian Beattie is the lead Pastor of Freedom House in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. What is happening in that City is nothing short of phenomenal. This article written by Brian will inspire you to believe that this can happen in your community.
‘City transformation wasn’t something that I had always cared about. The city of Brantford that we felt drawn to live in had been described as having “the worst downtown in Canada”. Upon my mother’s first visit to our city, she inquisitively wondered “if a bomb had gone off in our downtown?”. But, things have changed dramatically. Brantford is being hailed nationally and internationally as a city which has, and is experiencing notable transformation.
It is a collection of churches in the city who are invited to most of the decision making tables in the city, to help bring solutions to what are still the challenges of our city. With this said, I didn’t expect that we would get to these tables through late night street BBQs, or hosting winter carnivals, or inventing a Superhero, or writing and teaching school curriculum about that Superhero, or a myriad of other events; but apparently these were all part of the agenda for transforming the city.
The truth is, the methods don’t really matter. What we do and what we encourage others to do is to find the places in their cities that don’t look desirable, and intentionally change that reality. We see ourselves as cultural architects; bringing creative, offering solutions to the city, so systematic poverty becomes systematic prosperity.
Here is what the Mayor of our city said about the church collaboration, “I only wish that the churches had been involved 10 years sooner, because then we would have seen transformation in our city way before now.”
Around the same time, our local, Member of Parliament, Phil McColeman made the following statement in our federal House of Commons about what was transpiring in our city:
“Mr. Speaker, eight years ago, the churches in Brantford began on a mission called the Kindness Project to see if a city could be transformed ‘by good into good’ using simple, but strategic acts of kindness. The Kindness Project seeks to uncover the untapped level of synergy in our community as a collective commitment to serving each other, it’s people helping people with what we all have in our hands to give. Mr. Speaker, we hope, together, to make Brantford known as the KINDEST CITY IN CANADA”.
How do I know our city is being transformed?
Well, we see tangible evidence of it everywhere, in every sphere of our city. The church in the city is being invited to many of the seats of influence to bring positive, consistent and active change to the city.
No one person or organization could ever take credit for city transformation by themselves. We have found that there are many people in our city who are very passionate about having a prosperous and thriving city as well. We have come to realize that city transformation comes out of many people, in various ways working towards a common goal. I’m expecting that you will experience the same thing in your city.
There’s no mystery to city transformation – love & serve people. If you want to have influence, you have to have involvement.’