Our Trespasses: White Churches and the Taking of American Neighborhoods
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Our Trespasses: White Churches and the Taking of American Neighborhoods  -     By: Greg Jarrell

Our Trespasses: White Churches and the Taking of American Neighborhoods

Fortress Press / 2024 / Paperback

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Stock No: WW494923

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Product Information

Title: Our Trespasses: White Churches and the Taking of American Neighborhoods
By: Greg Jarrell
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 290
Vendor: Fortress Press
Publication Date: 2024
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
Weight: 15 ounces
ISBN: 1506494927
ISBN-13: 9781506494920
Stock No: WW494923

Publisher's Description

Our Trespasses uncovers how race, geography, policy, and religion have created haunted landscapes in Charlotte, North Carolina, and throughout the United States. How do we value our lands, livelihoods, and communities? How does our theology inform our capacity--or lack thereof--for memory? What responsibilities do we bear toward those who have been harmed, not just by individuals but by our structures and collective ways of being in the world?

Abram and Annie North, both born enslaved, purchased a home in the historically Black neighborhood of Brooklyn in the years following the Civil War. Today, the site of that home stands tucked beneath a corner of the First Baptist Church property on a site purchased under the favorable terms of Urban Renewal campaigns in the mid-1960s. How did FBC wind up in what used to be Brooklyn--a neighborhood that no longer exists? What happened to the Norths? How might we heal these hauntings? This is an American story with implications far beyond Brooklyn, Charlotte, or even the South. By carefully tracing the intertwined fortunes of First Baptist Church and the formerly enslaved North family, Jarrell opens our eyes to uncomfortable truths with which we all must reckon.

Author Bio

Greg Jarrell is a cultural organizer with QC Family Tree in the Enderly Park neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina. He works with words and music to impact housing and neighborhood justice issues. Jarrell writes about theology and history and co-leads Carolina Social Music Club, a popular jazz band. He and his wife, Helms, are ordained ministers and are raising two sons.

Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes is a clinical psychologist, womanist theologian, and ecumenical minister. She is the author of I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation and Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength. She teaches at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta.

Editorial Reviews

"James Baldwin once said that urban renewal means Negro removal. Baptist minister Jarrell's passionate look at the negative impact of the 1960s urban renewal on one city, Charlotte, NC, is proof positive of Baldwin's observation. . . . a searing cautionary story that demands attention." --Booklist

Our Trespasses is a powerful and provocative witness that compels white congregations and denominational communities to think deeply and confessionally about our past while also summoning us to commit to a much different kind of future. How have our theological language and ministry practices allowed us to participate in and even benefit from urban renewal projects that have decimated Black neighborhoods and congregations? How have we been blind to our neighbors and the systems and structures that hold them in bondage? How can we now use our words, our witness, and our properties to repair the devastations of many generations while also seeking a future that is just? Just as Our Trespasses confronts us with haunted urban landscapes around us, it also offers the kind of challenge to be expected as the Holy Spirit convicts, reproves, and summons us to a life worthy of the gospel. --Paul Baxley, executive coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Because Greg Jarrell stands somewhere (in the physical place of Charlotte, North Carolina), practices deep neighboring (tending to joys and sorrows through screen doors and on back porches), and navigates his life by a theological compass (mapping to biblical narratives that provide a robust understanding of our place in history), he reads his city's urban social architecture spiritually--demanding both transformative justice and unstrained mercy. While many have lauded and critiqued urban renewal movements in the US, few have looked deeply into its impact on Southern cities. Fewer still have unpacked the role white Protestant Christianity has played as a driver in city planning, with inevitable race-based schisms. As James Baldwin said in 1963, "Urban renewal means Negro removal." Jarrell's engaging storytelling, fresh historical research, and commitment to preserving the dignity of all the characters (living and dead) draw readers deep into questions about where we live, who lives around us, and what ghosts of "communities past" are just beyond our sightline. Jarrell reveals where the religious perspectives of the characters expand or contract in this recovery of the religious history of urban renewal, with a particular focus on white churches in Charlotte. Additionally, he offers fresh scriptural interpretation on Jesus' landowner parables and into the healing encounters that engage spirits that silence and bind. This is a necessary read for city planners, church leaders, real estate developers, social historians, community organizers, and those who believe the Bible speaks urgently to our present condition. --Rose Marie Berger, senior editor, Sojourners magazine

Our Trespasses uses a fascinating story about one family, one piece of land, and one church to get us to think about housing inequalities in the US. What if we could point to the people and institutions who are responsible? Would we be brave enough to hold them accountable? Would they be courageous enough to hold themselves accountable? The book is sociological in its conception, historical in its details, and theological in its profoundness. And most impressively, it is deeply personally reflective. To use the words of Charles Mills, Greg Jarrell is a white renegade and a race traitor who has thought a great deal about resisting and refusing the racial contract. Our Trespasses is a one-of-a-kind book, an enlightening read. --Joseph C. Ewoodzie, Vann Associate Professor of Racial Justice, Department of Sociology, Davidson College

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