What distinguishes an embedded church from a regional church, an insular church, or other geographic models? In Episode 7 we meet Nathan Carter who is a pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Chicago. Nathan discusses how Immanuel Baptist reflects the characteristics of an embedded church, while also sharing about the unique challenges his church has faced with regards to parking and city zoning requirements.
In Episode 7, we talk with Nathan Carter who is a pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois. When the church chose to relocate to an urban neighborhood in Chicago, the leadership asked the 30 original members to move into the neighborhood where the church was locating. There were 20 members who were willing, so effectively the church started its new chapter with a committed membership living in close proximity to the church itself. This model of being a church has reinforced Immanuel's commitment to remain in the neighborhood despite some hurdles they've encountered with parking, zoning, and the City of Chicago.
At the last minute, while working towards acquiring their property, the church learned that they did not meet zoning code requirements in terms of parking. The building has no parking on site and there is no space to add parking. The Chicago zoning code requires a set number of parking spaces to be provided for religious assembly. The church was committed to the neighborhood and purchasing the site, so they explored their options for being approved for acquisition and use without meeting the city parking requirements. Leaning on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a federal law that prohibits the implementation of any land use regulation that imposes a "substantial burden" on the religious exercise of a person or religious assembly or institution, the church decided to sue the City of Chicago. While the litigation is currently on-going, Immanuel has successfully moved into the building and is putting down roots in the neighborhood. Their work on this parking issue has effectively started changing the Chicago zoning code to reduce the parking requirements for religious uses.
In this episode we also talk through the 4 characteristics of an embedded church and to what extent Immanuel Baptist Church reflects these. The 4 characteristics include: 1) a direct connection to the public right-of-way; 2) a de-emphasis of a parking lot; 3) a mix of building types and uses within walking distance; and 4) an intentional mission mindset for engaging the local neighborhood.
Access more Show Notes with pictures and resources related to this episode.
More information about this podcast and helpful church and urbanism resources can be found on The Embedded Church website.
Center Church by Timothy Keller
Citizenship Papers by Wendell Berry
The Connecting Church: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community by Randy Frazee
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
Preaching to a Post-Everything World by Zack Eswine
RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act)
Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being by Zack Eswine
Tradition, History, and Sequoias by Wilfred M. McClay
The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
Find these Key Terms on The Embedded Church website:
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