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What Is Hamlets of Hope?

Spotlight on Ministry

An Ethnographhic Study

Hamlets of Hope: A Transformational Ministry Model Moving People of Promise from Pulpit and Pew to Pavement


In consideration of the type of ministry model that would be most effective in exposing and addressing the need for justice and wholeness, it is important to reflect on God’s biblical call and the implementation strategy and type of tools necessary to advance the biblical charge. Hamlets of Hope is a model that is intended to have systemic impact on people, place and community. This strategy encourages long-term change in people, place, practice and proclamation in such a way that pastor, people and community are energized and engaged in a reciprocal relationship within community. As such, believers are not simply satisfied doing outreach, rather they are compelled to go out, to hang out, and to stay out and, as circumstances permit, to bring in.

While the overarching goal of Hamlets of Hope is aimed at developing community focused, servant disciples, the strategy applied is a strength-based. The model, is an ‘Asset Based Community Development’ approach. Developed by John Kretzmann and John Mcknight, suggest there are always weaknesses and it is easy to identify those, the key is to locate the strengths. They contend, it can be overwhelming when the lens is only focused on what is wrong as opposed to what is right.

Hamlets of Hope impacts five areas as defined below. These areas mirror the example of Jesus Christ as he undertook his earthly ministry and prepared the disciples for a radical ministry of teaching, preaching and ‘performing’ the Word. In this way, they and all disciples are called to continue to spread and enact the message, mission, and ministry to all people throughout the world. In order to understand the utility and the areas to be affected by this framework, a general context is provided. Based on biblical scripture viewed through the lens of systems change theory the model targeted five areas of affection to enact the mission, ministry and message of Jesus Christ in Community.

They include Commitment, Communication, Climate, Culture, and Community and serve as zones of influence where Hamlets of Hope’s signature tools attempted to affect systemic transformational change and realize results.

Using Hamlets of Hope as a Community of Ministerial Practice, [COMP] a transformational, missional ministry framework was developed and applied to five churches who agreed to serve as pilot sites. Key to this approach is the distillation of Scripture. In using this approach, the incarnate Word of God is understood as the authentic Living Word that provides a “fresh encounters.”

In this way, the Word is alive, is hope-filled, and has relevance and application to present day conditions. 

Secondly, the model is applied from the inside out, and from the bottom up; it is not a top down approach. This strategy allows ministry to be driven by present conditions in the community. Further, the framework takes on a systemic focus so that the change is realized throughout; from the pew and the pulpit to the pavement. Like a pebble thrown into a pond that ripples outward the impact would flow from the inside out.

Third, the model transforms the climate and culture by changing attitudes, core values, and communication styles including language. These are important elements, central to the context, culture and climate of a church or faith community. When people undergo this type of conversion, where people [head, hand and heart] and place are transformed, healing, wholeness and reconciliation systemically occur and communities are restored.


Considering the findings of this ethnographic study, it is clear that there are broader implications for ministry beyond those realized by the five pilot sites.


Preach sermons that are accompanied by a charge. A charge comes before the benediction and is given to the congregation instructing them to go and serve. Be specific, if you need an example Matthew 28 is perfect. We need to understand that people are busy and they may need a little more direction than we are providing.

Proclamation can be conveyed as metaphor. Every now and then—change things up, try something new. Restoration Sunday use chains to illustrate how Jesus set the captives free. Be creative.

  • Let the Youth Speak and Serve! They have something to say and are able to expose a viewpoint that had not been considered and lift up the Gospel message with power, purpose, action and impact---A Word that is theologically sound rather than 'Churchy'.
  • Be intentional in the proclamation and alert to special Sundays like AIDS Day, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Restoration & Reentry Sunday.
  • Provide opportunities to worship informally outside the church and see what happens. Utilize the lay-leadership, youth and seniors to bring a homily or raise an issue of community concern, like cyber-bullying or suicide. Fold uncomfortable but very real topics into the worship and ministry menu at your church.
  • Open the doors for youth to express what they’ve been thinking by encouraging them to develop service opportunities, simulations, scenarios and poetry slams.

Religious Innovation & Entrepreneurs:

  • Embrace innovation and don’t be afraid of it. If you’ve got to come through the roof to see Jesus and receive a healing, then do it!
  • Resist trends for trend sake-When considering integrating an innovative idea, ask--Is this advancing the Kingdom or is this about me? There is no need to have a ‘Hip Hop’ Sunday worship service if all your members are senior citizens who hate loud music.

Model, Shadow and Coach:

  • Perform the Scripture-Model expected behavior and servant-hood.
  • The most educated person is not always the best person to lead. Take time or identify people who know how to mentor disciples in ‘doing’ ministry. Just as Jesus did with his disciples who had many questions, did some good things but along the way made many mistakes.
  • Leave room and grant permission for people to make mistakes and open the door so they know how to receive guidance.


  • Create moments within worship, bible study even auxiliary or board meetings to fellowship, touch, and hug and connect.
  • Try a little honey because people respond through encouragement.
  • Adopt practices that convey the ministry of presence, listening and appropriate touch.

Theological Reflection:

  • Create more opportunities to ‘connect the dots’ about what Jesus said the commissioning of the church and the disciple and what that means for parishioners. Let’s be open to Micah Moments where we explore what he and other prophets were preaching about. These should not be pastor or preacher driven, rather disciple driven.
  • Following the morning worship, offer stop-back sessions or informal ‘boomerang’ reflections to allow members to ask questions about the sermon and how to apply it. Utilize the three areas of application: evangelism, stewardship and discipleship to advance the message-making it more relevant and timely.

  • Continue and encourage questions regarding ministry practice and ask the ‘hard questions’-are we still being relevant. For example, If your community no longer has a large homeless population, but you see a growing number of prostitutes or youth on the corners, perhaps a shift or expansion in ministries needs to be considered and quickly implemented.

Partnership and Collaboration:

  • Invite, include and embrace Community members- who are experiencing homelessness, battling addiction or prostitution to be partners in community change. [Whether members or not].
  • Partner with other churches. If one church’s resources can’t sustain a ministry alone, partner, alternate days, split costs.


  • For Pastors-participate in your church beyond proclamation and bible study---practice MBWS-Ministry by Walking the Streets. We change heads, hearts and hands when we are visible doing the ‘hard work’. When disciples see the leadership engaged, they have no excuse but to roll up their sleeved and join in.

Kretzmann, John P. and John L. McKnight, from Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets, Evanston, IL: Institute for Policy Research (1993). pp. 1-11, O’Day, Gail R., Commentary and reflections: Gospel of John, New Interpreters Bible-Commentary in twelve volumes, Vol. 1, Abingdon Press: Nashville, TN, p. 777

Mount Zion United Methodist Church-Magothy, Pasadena, Maryland is the featured Hamlets of Hope Pilot site for the first quarter of 2013. Changing the way we 'do' ministry is a centerpiece of Hamlets of Hope. Mount Zion United Methodist Church embodies this approach by incorporating their youth in authentic, substantive and prophetic ways.

Our Today and Our Tomorrow...

Through their efforts of feeding the homeless, visiting shelters, and integrating poverty simulators, the youth of Magothy are carrying out the Great Commission by being Matthew 25 disciples to "the least, the lost and the left out" within their community.

“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you."

Hamlets of Hope's Poverty Simulator is intended to pull back the curtain on poverty in an 'in your face' manner. The Mount Zion-UMC youth customized this tool and chose to present this simulator to the entire congregation in the nave during a Sunday worship service.

"...Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth."

The strategy attempts to debunk stereotypes and highlight some of the conditions of those who are experiencing poverty, abuse, unemployment, mental health issues, bullying, homelessness and other social challenges. This consciousness raising tool has led the church body to become involved with housing, feeding and relationship building with people who are experiencing homelessness during the winter months.

"...We did not think we could do we know we can and I want us to do this every year..."

Vital Voices of Valor!

Lived Faith-Magothy Youth continue to change heads, hearts and hands as they identify, plan and engage in ministries that target specific social issues that they want to lift up, advocate and impact. In this way they demonstrate that their young voices are just as vital to affect systemic change within their faith community and throughout the world.

"...See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:6-10 NIV

In December, the entire Magothy Church family welcomed persons experiencing homelessness to break bread, enjoy a warm bed and fellowship. Over thirty youth eagerly teamed, with church members and local volunteers to share God's love-to bless and be blessed.

This was the first time the church had endeavored to do this type of ministry. Partnering with a local non-profit and an area school, MZUMC was able to provide their community family with hot showers, delicious three course meals, spiritual counsel, recreation space to relax, internet access and movies.

[*HoH does not take pictures of our neighbor's without written permission and in cases where confidentiality and anonymity are a concern]

Mount Zion United Methodist Church-Magothy

A Beloved Shalom Community, Pasadena, Maryland

Ebenezer Baptist Church - Evangelism-Homeless Ministry, Monroe Park, Richmond, Virginia

Ebenezer Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia is the featured Hamlets of Hope Pilot site for the month of December because of their consistent commitment to serve and advocate for, in and with their community. This historic church, whose motto is the People's Church, is located in the downtown section of the City of Richmond referred to as Historic Jackson Ward.

Ebenezerites actively invest in their community through various ministries that serve those who stand 'with their backs up against the wall'. Through ministries such as a clothes closet, weekly food pantry and now a thriving evangelism and homeless ministry EBC disciples faithfully demonstrate Christ's message, mission and ministry of love by establishing authentic relationships with their neighbors, feeding the hungry, being present with and sharing the Word of God with the most needy. Through these efforts, the Holy Spirit is transforming head, heart and hands as they work towards the creation of the Beloved Shalom Community of God!

Why Transformational Ministry?

Condition: Some churches and communities of faith are “Spiritually Obese” and “Evangelistically Anorexic” spending significant time doing “in-reach” rather than outreach, missions, and evangelism. Moreover, congregational churches are using out-dated modes of ministry to inspire members to be disciples and servants---essentially the faithful are employing a Tape Ministry to reach a DvD and iPad Generation. Subsequently, action oriented, transformational, innovative ministry is diminished.

The church is well positioned to be a catalyst of spiritual, economic, and cultural transformation that leads to a renewed reality and the creation of the Beloved Shalom Community. 

In order to do this requires a shift in our understanding of the disciple’s role---that leads to the "the body" becoming witnesses, vessels , and servants. Hamlets of Hope is about People Development and it's mission is to cultivate “a ministry doing mindset” among the faith community ---- moving people from pew and pulpit; to pavement thereby creating a balance in hearing and doing the Word.

Who: The Church, Communities of Faith, and Faith-Based Organizations [FBO’s]

What: HoH is a Community of Ministerial Practice [COMP] and a Christian repository of tools to assist faith practitioners and congregations align their vision, missions and ministerial practices in order to serve the local community.

How: HoH's repository of tools and faith network assists ministry practitioners and churches align their vision, missions, and ministries by rethinking their approach

  • From In-reach to Outreach ministry orientation
  • From Program focused to People Development focused
  • From Church focused to Kingdom focus

Outcome: This strategy seeks to grow members into disciples who embrace and carry out the believer’s charge to serve the least, the lost, and the left out while fulfilling The Great Commission which calls disciples to be Salt and Light--witnessing and serving communities throughout the world.

  • Are you looking to be spiritually and evangelistically healthy, vibrant, and fit?

  • What are you doing outside the walls of your church to fulfill the vision, mission, and goals of your church?

  • How are you cultivating a ‘Doing Ministry’?

  • Are you looking to re-energize your disciples, but lack the tools and the resources to put plans in motion?

Tools include but are not limited to:

We hope to see you again! In Service-Onward and Upward In Christ!-In Service To God & Humanity-Cheryl Cook, Founder

What We're Reading...

Re-entry, Restorative Justice & The Prison Industrial Complex

Ministry with Prisoners & Families: The Way Forward, ed. W. Wilson Goode, Sr., Charles E. Lewis, Jr. and Harold Dean Trulear; Foreword by Addie Richburg. Afterword by Dee Dee Coleman

This edited volume considers the impact of incarceration on the African American community and the biblical mandate for an intentional response from the church. The book features model ministries that address:

  • Incarceration
  • Prisoner reentry
  • Care of families
  • Political advocacy around issues in criminal justice reform

Contributors include:

Karen Swanson, director, Institute for Prison Ministries

Deborah Jackson-Meyers, founder and executive director, Breaking the Chain Foundation

Michael Smith, founder, Cross of Christ Ministries

Alfreda Robinson-Dawkins, founder, National Women’s Prison Project, Inc.

Madeline McClenney-Sadler, founder, Exodus

Elwood Gray, president, National Coalition of Prison Ministries

Church Culture

Transformational Ministry

Urban Ministry

Urban and Suburban Partnership




The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander, Forward by Cornel West

Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Y. Davis

I Was In Prison: United Methodist Perspectives on Prison Ministry by James M. Shopshire, Mark C. Hicks and Richmond Stoglin , Editors

Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church, by Neil Cole

The Hip-Hop Church: Connecting with the Movement Shaping out Culture, Efrem Smith, Phil Jackson, Forwards by Bakari Kitwana and Alton Pollard, III

Rethinking the Church: a challenge to creative redesign in an age of transition, James Emery White

Urban Ministry: The Kingdom, the City & the People of God, Harvie M. Conn and Manuel Ortiz

Empowerment: A Key Component of Christian Community Development, Mary Nelson, PhD

Linking Arms, Linking Lives: How Urban-Suburban Partnerships Can Transform Communities, Ronald J. Sider, John M. Perkins, Wayne L. Gordon, F. Albert Tizon

Garage Door Evangelism: Opening Your Church to the Community, Dary Northrop

Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times Luis Rodriguez

Touch: Pressing Against the wounds of a Broken World, Rudy Rasmus


Jesus Weeps: Global Encounters on Our Doorstep, Harold J. Recinos and Robert A. Evans

Models, Mentors, and Messages: Blueprints of Urban Ministry, Rene Rochester

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