We remember the bad old days when Fresno was the butt of many jokes on Letterman, the ugly stepsister, and never asked to the ball. Those days are gone. Perhaps out of the soil of our desperation, people of faith in our valley caught the idea over the last thirty years that we could (and indeed must) innovate our own solutions. There is no outside savior for the things that plague our community. For the last decade, the FPU Center for Community Transformation has been developing expertise and a track record of innovation in economic forms of ministry. National organizations and internationally known institutions have noticed. Lilly Endowment Inc invested in the CCT’s micro and social enterprise training initiatives, as well as its financial literacy initiative for low-income communities. Duke university came to study us. And now, Princeton University is asking for us to share what we have learned in the last ten years – our blend of pragmatic and scripture-based training – so that other institutions in other cities across the country might learn from it.
Carlos Huerta, the CCT Executive Director, will travel to Princeton in December to speak into that process, focusing on spiritual entrepreneurship, social innovation, social entrepreneurship & change-making. Out of the initial conversations, it is expected that a more accurate national map will be created of these centers of creativity, that those engaged in this kind of change-making as part of their Christian vocation will learn from each other, and that better design and formation will happen as leaders are cultivated for this work. Ultimately, the hope is to form leaders who can mobilize human action for a spiritual purpose. In our valley, we call that purpose Shalom – God making all things new. The Lilly Endowment Inc helped us produce a short video of two congregations that have received CCT training. Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSYXx0xhf0Q