To awaken transformation of personal health and spiritual wholeness, relentless pursuit of social justice, and racial and ethnic reconciliation.
Who We Are
The Urban Renewal Center (URC), located in Norfolk, Virginia, is a conceptual center of moral thought, voice, and action. People are the most important part of any city; as a community development organization, the URC cares about the narratives, situations, and conditions of people's lives.
The URC sees congregations as an essential part of neighborhoods, communities and city life. The faith community has a valuable role beyond their walls to advance the quality of life in the city. Developing partnerships is the center's modus operandi. We partner with both congregations and other organizations in the community to pursue several collaborative initiatives. The First Presbyterian Church of Norfolk is the center's launching partner.
The URC bridges education, religious life, and the broader community toward positive impact for common good. The center promotes urban wholeness, examining needs in the community and responding to them with practical support. The center organizes its efforts in the following categories: 1. race relations; 2. interfaith engagement; 3. education; 4. criminal justice.
Health and wholeness
To advance our mission, we build faith-based coalitions, facilitate education opportunities, and develop social engagement opportunities.
An urban society at the heart of the world's largest Naval Base, there are many exciting facts about Norfolk. The port city is also among the world's top 100 most resilient cities. Norfolk is resilient not only because it thrives as a coastal city but also because the people are resilient.
Norfolk is part of the broader Hampton Roads heritage of the early formation of the United States of America. This historic city continues to attract people from around the world to its rich culture and urban flare.
A city on the edge with much to offer, the median age of residents in Norfolk is 20% lower than the state of Virginia. Norfolk's population diversity sets the stage for advancement in race relations for the country. According to the 2010 census report, 47.1% of Norfolk's population is Caucasian. 43.1% of the population is African American. 3.3% of the population is Asian. And an increasing number of hispanics are moving to the region. If we get race/ethnic relations right in Norfolk, the model would inspire better race relations across the country and around the world!
Hampton Roads is an education epicenter with over 96,000 enrolled university and community college students. Norfolk contains almost half of the region's residential students of higher learning. Excellent scientific and technological innovation are rooted in the region with superb laboratories in Norfolk. The military, universities, and a thriving job force development draws in talent from around the world.
Yet, a city with a rich heritage, a skilled workforce, great innovation, intelligent minds and irresistible resilience contains lots of pain, struggle, isolation, poverty, addiction, violence, food insecurity, broken families, abandonment, illiteracy, a struggling public education system, child abandonment, homelessness, unemployment and under-employment, mental illness, disease, and more. The needs are often overlooked in search of the best that the city has to offer. Yet, the problems are real and people are suffering. One observes the "tale of two cities" Norfolk. Wealth and poverty have sustained for many years, disproportionately along racial lines.
Lauding Norfolk's beauty and applauding the city's resilience, Norfolk remains full of potential. Collaborative efforts from within Norfolk's Faith community, municipality and the business district can propel Norfolk into a future in which all citizens are equally cared for with fair and impartial opportunity and support to flourish as people created in the image of God.
What Are Urban Societies?
Urban societies are metropolises characterized by modern industrial civilization with information technology as central mechanism for business, mobilization and communication. Cities are becoming more densely populated and comprised of an eclectic mixture of styles and social influences. Contemporary American urban societies include economically both the advantaged and disadvantaged. They are also heterogeneous in cultural tradition. Life in the cities focuses more on individuals than the integrated whole.
While in Norfolk and other areas many African Americans have historically occupied the so-called inner-city, increasingly American urban revitalization supports a future of an increased urban population. The language of "urban" will no longer merely be codified language for a particular minority ethnic group, i.e., African Americans or Hispanics.
Furthermore, urban societies are religiously diverse with an overarching secular set of values. They are often characterized by longstanding religious structures, storefront churches, mosques, and other religious and spiritual gathering spaces. Attendance at religious services are lower in the city than in past generations. However, research shows an uptick in claims on spiritual awareness.