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Youth & Urban Renewal Center Launches

By Rachel Judy | March 25, 2011

The Rev. Durant Kreider

Regent University's Youth and Urban Renewal Center (YURC) was officially launched on Thursday, March 17. Located within the School of Divinity, YURC's mission is to act as a catalyst for renewal in urban environments.

"People in urban communities suffer from spiritual drought and an existential crisis at unprecedented measures," explained Dr. Antipas Harris, assistant professor in the School of Divinity and the center's director. "Poverty, the housing calamity, the abuse of sexuality, lingering racism that has plagued black America for centuries, systemic racism that oppresses brown America on the issue of immigration, homelessness, gang problems, truancy rates, high school dropout rates, and the slavery of sex trafficking are only a few of the problems paramount in urban areas."

The center—in partnership with local churches—will provide custom-designed leadership training, youth ministry training and intervention, as well as facilitating coalitions and offering strategic planning services. Many services will be targeted toward youth, who are often the victims of the problems found in urban settings. "Churches are key sources to transform urban communities," Harris said. "In the face of urban debauchery, economic decadence, the education crisis and social mayhem, God calls upon the churches to extend God's love to transform the temperature."

The launch ceremony also showcased one of Regent's urban initiatives—a partnership with Project Bridges, a group of churches in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area with significant outreaches into urban centers. Regent provides leadership training for Project Bridges churches. Harris also recognized members of the YURC Advisory Board, several of whom were in the audience.

Dr. Michael Palmer, dean of the School of Divinity also praised the efforts of Harris in establishing the YURC and spoke of its significance. "This is a down payment, a pledge, a promise and a commitment to realize a vision," he said.

The Rev. Durant Kreider '08 (Divinity), pastor of Coastland Community Church in Chesapeake, Va., and a member of the YURC Advisory Board, was the featured speaker. Raised in the farmland around Lancaster, Pa., Kreider had intended to go into overseas missions. Instead, he found great need in the areas he calls urbia—those urban pockets tucked behind suburban, polished homes. [I prayed] Lord give me urbia, he said. Today, because of this prayer, 27 churches in his city have adopted underserved communities, he explained. "We love them. [We're not looking for] the accolades of man, but transformation of youth."

Other speakers at the launch included Regent President Carlos Campo and Divinity students Cindy Arocho and Nina Anderson. Both students shared about their childhood in urban neighborhoods and the impacts that this had on them.

Learn more about Youth and Urban Renewal Center initiatives.


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