The Faculté Jean Calvin, our Seminary in Aix-en-Provence, is full of surprises. They have just created a summer course, université d’été, on the theme of “Urban Missions.” The classes and break-out sessions will take place July 22- 26, 2013, on the grounds of the Seminary.
Why are they devoting an entire week to the city? For starters, over one half of the world’s population now lives in a city. Why is that significant? Because the characteristics of the city are unique. Everything from the proximity of great numbers of people to the accelerated pace and interconnectivity of city- dwellers means they will think and act in somewhat different ways from those living in rural areas. Not absolutely, of course: everyone, wherever they live, are God’s image-bearers, sinners in need of grace, facing economic challenges, family issues, and so forth. Yet city-dwellers have often come there for refuge, or advancement opportunities not always otherwise available. Cities are places where different cultures and ethnicities confront one another intensively. Many of them come with strong religious commitments. This presents special challenges as well as special opportunities.
Does the Bible have anything special to say about cities? Considerable amounts. After being expelled from the garden, the first populations busied themselves with building cities (Gen. 4:17; 11:4). Prophets such as Jonah addressed their message of repentance to entire cities. Paul and the other apostles concentrated their missions on cities. And, most important, heaven itself is a great city, the Jerusalem from above (Heb. 13;14; Rev. 21:20).
For this course, experts will be brought-in to discuss prospects such as making the gospel relevant to the city, church planting and leadership development, theology and urban missions, care of the poor and homeless, and much more. And, much more to come in the future. But, really, this is no surprise; our Seminary is on the cutting edge.
Very Truly yours,
William Edgar, President