The Hill is actually a famous neighborhood that few people outside know about–well, at least famous for its place in American and New Haven’s history. The Hill, however, is more infamously known as “Sodom's Hill.” Yet in the early history of New Haven, the Trowbridge neighborhood (where Lisa and I actually have an apartment) was designated as a suburb–yes, that is correct, a suburb.
Back in early American history, the wealthy and affluent settled in city-centers, that is, urban living. As the immigrants and the poor increased in New Haven, the bottom-demographics were moved to new quarters in the sub-urban regions of the City. Think walking, horse, and horse and buggy as the primary modes of travel, so suburbs were basically the outer districts of the urban area. In fact, if you dig down, now, under the sidewalks and tar of the roads around Trowbridge Square (where our apartment in the Hill is located), you’d find the old trolley car tracks; for this suburb was the trolley-hub to catch a ride to West or East Haven or even downtown New Haven. Ironically there is a little hill (again think horse and walking hill) to get up to Trowbridge, thus, the naming of our Hill community: “We’re going up the hill to catch a trolley” . . . “going up the Hill to walk home” . . . became over time, “We’re going to the Hill” . . . “We live in the Hill . . .” And as this small district settled with immigrants and the indigent of that day, it became dense as a very impoverished, poor suburb of New Haven, eventually being saddled with the nickname “Sodom's Hill.”
My supporters empower me to minister in this messy and hurting, but beautiful community, relocating their financial blessings to help the gospel to be planted in the heart of the Hill, changing lives, and lifting them and their neighbors above its unsavory nickname.
The presence of CPC in The Hill helps to ameliorate the cliché that address is destiny. And, by God’s grace and the power of the gospel, we see lives changing, which will cause this community to flourish. Outside support allows me to spend time pastoring amidst this very poor and hurting neighborhood, and, as well, to be involved in the community, like as a member of the Hill Management Team and by showing up, literally, everywhere in the Hill. And, such outside support ensures I can continue sharing the gospel and, even, as it so happens, just outside my apartment door do some regular street pastoral counseling.
- My study of the Bible over 30 years has led me to develop a theology (i.e., a Christianity, a faith) wherein the texts regarding how God relates to the poor and how His people are to relate to the poor have become clearer, stand out, if you will, for us to consider as a priority in God's kingdom.
- Because of life's past circumstances (i.e., God's providence), I have lived more in proximity to the poor and under-resourced for, now, the greater part of my adult life.
- As many of you already know, I have worked, vocationally, in social work (i.e., social action) for 20 years prior to stepping into the full time pastor role here at CPC in The Hill. Since 1997, I have work in, for, and with the population I am now serving as a Pastor. I have been a grant writer, program developer, and planner for social and workforce development programs that serve the needs of the poor and under-resourced.
I had always thought these past 20 years were God’s seminary-training for me. I've written on this (i.e., social action, church, and evangelism), articles, even a book, and in some way that has been self-preparation for this ministry, as well.
Although I have yet to reach 100% of our fundraising needs, still because of the generosity of others, I have the ability to do this full time. And, trust me, it takes full time. This allows me to be where I need to be when I need to be there; not just hospital visits or at a kitchen table or a church activity, but out my front door to counsel those, who, almost as if they are waiting for me, need a word or a prayer from the Pastor, to show up at town and community meetings, and simply to be visible in the needed places of Hill life.
I will find out this coming week regarding our FY20 budget (our fiscal year is 9/1–8/31), whether it was approved or modified. Yes, I am a little worried this year--our church does grow and will grow mostly with the same population that lacks resources, and more people means more resources needed to minister. We are a church that has become well known so our outreach activities (especially ones related to food!) increase in people served; thus, our need for our own resources to increase. The FY20 budget reflected a mere 6% increase; but without hitting our fundraising goal (so far) for FY19 (43k and currently at 83%), I am not sure where we stand (next week I will). A vision budget would include the funds to help obtain someone dedicated to reaching Hill teenagers and, as well, funds to help people in our congregation to start businesses and to start our own coffee shop, our own food co-op here in the Hill. But these must wait until more outside brothers and sisters see this vision as well.
Nonetheless, I am blessed to be in a place where I can minister the gospel, demonstrating what loving one’s neighbor looks like in an under-resourced neighborhood; to be a pastor to the people of the Hill; to disciple a church to be a model of God’s kingdom; and, to be present in such a way to multiple opportunities for Hill men and women, Hill children, boys and girls, Hill young people, teenagers so they may find eternal life and a new life in the Hill.
I am grateful that others give out of their own resources so that I am empowered to be a pastor in the Hill. If you'd like to know more how you can help, email me at ChipCPCtheHill@gmail.com.
Please consider supporting the ministry of Christ Presbyterian Church in The Hill. Our church plant and ministry in the Hill is dependent on the kind and generous financial support from outside the Hill. Although it is our goal to be self-sufficient, at present (and perhaps for a longer time than most would prefer) our congregation reflects the demographics of the neighborhood and, thus, will be dependent on outside support for some time. Please consider supporting us with a one time donation or join us as a financial partner in ministry.
You may donate online through our website or send a donation to our anchor church (CPC New Haven) @ 135 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT 06510 (checks are to be made out to Christ Presbyterian Church or simply CPC; and, in the memo please indicate Hill/CA). For more information or to receive our Hill News Updates, please contact me, Pastor Chip, through this email address: ChipCPCtheHill@gmail.com.