The list of the 10 poorest cities was filled with mostly old, northeastern and mid-western industrial locales. Cleveland had the lowest median income of any city in the nation with more than 250,000 residents; households there earned just $26,535. Miami was the next poorest at $27,088, followed by Buffalo ($27,850), Detroit ($28,364), St. Louis ($30,936) and Cincinnati ($31,103).
I live approximately 20 minutes from the 5th poorest city (or 5th poorest major city) in our country. Let me tell you, sometimes it is hard to justify spending millions on a new church building while people down the road don't have basic needs met. On a haunting side note- I recently found out from a friend in the congregation that my current home was the address of their adopt-a-family from two Christmases ago. So the need isn't just downtown.
So let's take a look at some demographics (incomes taken from here), visually this is just head shaking stuff:
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Ok, so part of that was me wanting to show off my noodleing around with Google maps... for another portrayal of have and have not in St. Louis county, click here. If you click on the map, you should be able to see the average household incomes. But to save you some time, lets recap:
Average household incomes of communities that primarily make up my congregation:
Clarkson Valley $153,933
Once again, City of St. Louis $30,936
So in the coming months I'm going to be conspiring with members of my congregation and community to heed God's call to serve the poor. A lot of times we pastor-y types get a call to help feed God's sheep, and when they're in your own back yard it doesn't seem as fun or glamerous. Yes there are AIDS pandemics, yes Darfur and much of the non-industrialized world is hurting, yes we need to build houses in Mexico, yes we need to give aid to American cities and international communities as well. But I can't stand the thought of remaining so insulated anymore. If you want to see what has messed me up so bad, read Shane Claiborne's The Irresistable Revolution, oh yea, and The Bible.