THE CNU MEMBERS’ CHRISTIAN CAUCUS
– FOUNDED 2016 –
What’s The Big Idea?
The CNU Members’ Christian Caucus (CNU-MCC) is a new initiative whose mission is to support CNU by extending the concepts and practices of New Urbanism to the Christian community.
CNU-MCC identifies a nexus of overlapping concerns and values that are central to both Christian faith and New Urbanism. They are social justice, creation care/environmental sustainability, and urbanism that begets community wellbeing and serves the common good. CNU-MCC, therefore, will prioritize its work in these areas.
This caucus would not be possible were it not for the groundbreaking work of prior faith-based initiatives. The religious network at CNU has grown over the past few years through the FaithUrb list serve, the annual (yet informal) congress prayer breakfast, and other events. Our hope is those networking venues will be strengthened by this initiative because the CNU-MCC views itself as additive, not substitutive to those activities.
CNU-MCC is NOT an affinity group focused on advocating for its interests within CNU. In other words, CNU-MCC is not a political sub-group advocating for some set of religious concerns within CNU–which would be divisive, unwelcome, and an anathema to the spirit and mission of this group. To the contrary, this initiative is intended to provide a formal channel for Christian CNU members to serve and support both CNU and their faith communities.
What Can CNU-MCC Do to Support CNU, the Christian Community, and the Common Good?
A lively and active CNU members’ Christian caucus could do lots of creative and constructive projects based on the collective expertise of its members and their networks. For example, the CNU-MCC could produce formal statements, recommendations, and resources on urban issues that in many cases would garner more interest, possess more credibility, and thus be taken more seriously within Christian circles than similar statements, recommendations, or resources issued by secular organizations or individual experts–even Christian experts–could. In other words, Christian thinkers, leaders, and institutions often pay more serious attention when they are advocated by trusted community affiliated organizations than not.
On the other hand mainstream leaders and institutions sometimes stand up and pay attention when reputable Christian groups like the CNU-MCC join in common cause with non-religious groups. CNU-MCC, therefore, could exercise a useful role in the public square by broadening the support for CNU and New Urbanist ideas and causes.
Other examples of potential CNU-MCC activities and actions include:
– CNU-MCC could have sent letter to Pope Francis prior to his visit to the US last year expressing our mutual concerns about environmental stewardship, climate change, and social justice, and offered to meet and share our New Urbanist toolkit with him and the Catholic Church to help address these issues. It is unlikey CNU-MCC members would have been invited to meet Pope Francis, however, it is certain such a letter would have been well received, and more than likely led to a constructive engagement with the Catholic Church about New Urbanism. We can still send such a letter.
– The World Evangelical Alliance Creation Care Task Force (WEACCTF) is mobilizing Evangelicals world wide to engage and contribute to the United Nations Habitat III conference in October. This includes hosting preparatory conferences, producing papers, and making recommendations to Habitat III. CNU-MCC would be an invaluable expert partner in this effort.
– Finally, the CNU-MCC could influence and support prominent organizations like the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA). If CCDA incorporated New Urbanism into their solutions and practices for community development that would bring incredible benefit to the communities they work with.
In all of the above examples CNU benefits in many ways. CNU can expand its membership, it can also build relationships, and potentially new programs, with Christian organizations that have an affinity with New Urbanism. Given the ethnic diversity of the church, and especially the diversity of in Christian organizations concerned with community development, CNU can also increase its organizational diversity. It is worth pointing out that two of CNU’s top strategic priorities for 2016-2018 are forming partnerships and increasing its diversity.
The choices, actions, and outcomes of the proposed caucus cannot be simply known or predicted in advance, we are confident, however, that the people who will join this group, and those who will take an active role in leading it, will do everything they can to ensure that the CNU-MCC has a constructive and trusting relationship with CNU, and that it will contribute gainfully to the welfare of the common good, and to the Christian community.
CNU-MCC’s Inaugural Structure and Organizing Principles
1. CNU-MCC is formal body with a specific identity. It is comprised of CNU members, practitioners and experts in New Urbanism, and self-identifying Christians–to keep it simple that is any individual who willingly affirms the Nicene and/or Apostles’ Creed.
2. CNU-MCC’s mission is to support CNU by extending the concepts and practices of New Urbanism to the Christian community.
3. CNU-MCC is an ecumenical Christian caucus, but not an inter-faith caucus. We encourage other faiths to organize CNU caucuses to reach out to their communities, and would welcome collaborating with other CNU faith caucuses if they developed, but for practical and strategic reasons the CNU-MCC is not an inter-faith caucus.
4. CNU-MCC’s activities include, but are not limited to issuing statements, recommendations, developing resources, and entering into partnerships and coalitions with other organizations that are congruous with, and advance its mission.
5. CNU-MCC identifies a nexus of overlapping concerns and values that are central to both Christian faith and New Urbanism. They are social justice, creation care/environmental sustainability, and urbanism that begets community wellbeing and serves the common good. CNU-MCC, therefore, will prioritize its work in these areas.
6. Individual members can identify themselves as CNU-MCC members in public venues, however, individual CNU-MCC members cannot officially represent the caucus at meetings, conferences, etc., unless specifically authorized to do so by CNU-MCC.
7. CNU-MCC’s activities are limited to discrete fixed-term projects. In other words, CNU-MCC members (or smaller sub-groups of members) come together to work on tasks on a project-by-project basis. When those projects are completed the caucus is dormant until new tasks are identified and set to do.
8. The individuals in leadership, the governing structures for leadership, and the governing structures of the caucus itself, will be critical to the success of CNU-MCC. A sub-committee of the originating membership will be appointed to frame up the details of CNU-MCC’s structures.
Current CNU-MCC members include Elizabeth Moule, Philip Bess, Dr. Christopher Miller, Mike Watkins, Josh Paget, John Paget, Jay Hoekstra, David Kim, Dr. Chris Elisara, and Dr. Eric O. Jacobsen.
CNU24 Working Session (Detroit, June 9, 2016)
CNU has approved an official member-led working session for CNU-MCC at CNU24 on Thursday, June 9 from 12:30-1:45 PM in the Cadillac Cafe at the Detroit Opera House (DOH), 1526 Broadway St, Detroit, MI 48226.
Please join us if you are interested in becoming a member. The agenda is simple, we meet and socialize with other memebrs; discuss and form a governace taskforce to work on recommendations for the leadership and governance of CNU-MCC; and share and discuss projects members are interested in doing, and select projects to work on.
For More Information
E-mail Chris Elisara at email@example.com, or call 760 765 2817.