“For the super-elite, a sense of meritocratic achievement can inspire high self-regard, and that self-regard—especially when compounded by their isolation among like-minded peers—can lead to obliviousness and indifference to the suffering of others.”
—Chrystia Freeland, “The Rise of the New Global Elite,” The Atlantic, Jan-Feb, 2011
The Village Church strives in all ways to embody the life of Jesus Christ in Greenwich Village. As taught in the book of James, that life combats discrimination and gross inequity.
James 2:1-9 teaches that if you divide people according to wealth, you are committing sin. While this is the de facto standard in our culture, the Christian Church provides a singular alternative life, where rich and poor meet together, just as they did in Jesus’ ministry.
What Greenwich Village does not need is another boutique or self enrichment program. What we here really need, as an enclave of New York’s privileged, is exposure to New York’s un-privileged. That is why we have launched the Affluent Justice Initiative.
The key component of AJI is proximity, bringing people close together who are separated by the world’s system of discrimination. This system is alive and well in our city. There are places of disadvantage to which we just never have to go. Through the Village Church’s associations with churches of the South Bronx, the people of Greenwich Village can meet and worship with some of the poorest of our city. In a safe environment, we can begin to understand the needs of that “other New York.” We can become assistants of hope to those who have little hope to spare.
James 5:1-6 teaches that indifference to the suffering of others is antithetical to the heart of God. To have plenty amidst want cannot be tolerated in the Christian life. We won’t live that way.
We do these things because Jesus Christ crossed the tracks between heaven and earth and insisted on going to where nice gods do not go. He came from a place of great privilege to a world of ugliness and moral breakdown. He came from glory to a neighborhood of despair (Philippians 2:1-8). And He did it for us.
You do not have to be in our church to enjoy this growing experience. The Village Church calls all of Greenwich Village to participate in these connections. You are welcome to join us for any of our Initiative projects to learn how the un-privileged live, the needs they confront, and the dreams they have for their New York.
For more information, contact:
Rev. Sam Andreades
To hear more about the philosophy behind the Affluent Injustice Initiative, listen here: