URBAN LIFE TEAM 2013-2014
ONE YEAR THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
TRANSFORMATION THROUGH RELATIONSHIPS
Fueled by a vision of how things ought to be...We are positioning ourselves to bring forth restoration.
Learn about how UrbanLife is bringing change to the westside.
Meet the people who are working to transform lives today.
Apply to be a part of what is happening at UrbanLife.
Get In Touch
Contact us today with questions or to learn more about UrbanLife.
Urban Life is an 11 month internship program in which Christians ages 18-26 live in an under served and under resourced area in West Charlotte called Wesley Heights.
Wesley Heights is the only registered historic district west of Uptown Charlotte, however the community here is often ignored. Schools within the West Charlotte corridor including Wesley Heights have a 51% graduation rate, the lowest in the Charlotte Mecklenburg school district.
We believe that real transformation happens through relationship, which is why living amongst the people we are trying to serve is so vital in our role as Urban Life. We want to lift up the people in our community by coming alongside them to serve, worship, learn, and connect.
Our reach, however, goes beyond Wesley Heights as we additionally serve with various organizations and non-profits in the greater Charlotte area. Urban Life is also involved with several schools, working as lunch and reading buddies, mentors, and group leaders.
We know that God is moving in Wesley Heights and has positioned us here for a reason. Urban Life has such a heart for Charlotte. We want to play a role in the work God is doing here by propelling positive life change. We know that by opening our hearts and minds to what the Lord has for us, He can use us as catalysts to further His kingdom.
URBAN LIFE 2013-2014 TEAM
From left to right (Garrett, Bailey, Rachel, Katie, City Directors Michelle and Garrett)
We believe transformation happens through relationships: giving a hand up, not a hand out.
We want to define ourselves by what we are for rather than by what we are against. We will speak vision and life over our neighbors. We will lift up the salvation of Jesus rather than using our platform to condemn.
ASSET BASED EMPOWERMENT
Individuals within communities more often then not have the skills and abilities needed to help their neighbor. We believe we can connect them to each other by focusing on their assets rather than their “problems” or “needs”. We believe that there is no reason to reinvent what already exists in a neighborhood; every community has assets that deserve to be celebrated and the focus need not be on their problems or needs.
JUSTICE & MERCY
We seek to raise people up through justice and mercy because of Jesus’ special concern for the poor and oppressed.
Our mission is to form relationships in an urban neighborhood while sharing life with a supportive team of Christians.
We are team-centered: using one another's gifts to celebrate and lift up the body of Christ. (Romans 12:5)
POWER OF PARTNERSHIP
Our mission is to bring together organizations that are strategic to advance the well-being of the residents within the neighborhood.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
We affirm that Christ comes first and from that everything else flows.
Garrett and Michelle Mcneill
Garrett and Michelle have a huge heart for missions. They met on a program where they had the opportunity to lead a large squad of twenty something’s for a year, to live in community, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus alongside local ministries in over 11 different countries.
The crossroads of their lives met somewhere in the beautiful mess of missions, community, and discipleship. They love the Lord intimately, adore Charlotte, and are enthusiastic about engaging their generation where passion intersects purpose.
They are excited to make the move from suburbia into the heart of Charlotte and into the heart of the Father. They live for adventure and anything less than ridiculous is considered unacceptable.
“It is our prayer that the Lord can use us and Urban Life and the community in West Charlotte to bring the fruitfulness of the garden to the barrenness of the earth.”
Operations Pastor at Elevation Church Urban Life Program Advisor
After spending over 7 years in the healthcare and biotechnology industries in 2008, Josh Blackson began as the Operations Pastor for Elevation Church, a position he holds to this day.
Since 1998, Josh and his wife Angie have spent 6 years building intentional relationships within forgotten parts of their community. Driven by the belief that relationships are better built when you are directly involved with those you are trying to reach, Josh and Angie responded to God’s calling and began making plans to move to the inner city. Within 2 short years, they put their house up for sale and moved to Wesley Heights in a complex called “The Summit” after the Movement Foundation purchased it in January 2012.
Josh has limited expertise in community transformation but with his entrepreneurial leadership and experience, strategic relationships within the city, and the power of the Holy Spirit, there will be significant impact made within the community. He serves as the Executive Director of Urban Life.
Josh loves competing in all sports and is an avid out-doors-man (yes, he is a eagle scout). He and Angie have 3 girls, Alyssa, Kaitlyn, & Karis.
Outreach Coordinator at Elevation Church
Jamie works closely with more than 40 organizations in Charlotte to connect the local church to serve alongside organizations who are having a big impact in the city. She serves as Urban Life’s Community Connector, ensuring that services are not void or duplicated within the West Charlotte community.
Before moving to Charlotte she spent three years in Ethiopia developing a sports ministry program in one of the poorest countries in the world. She then worked at the YMCA of greater Charlotte as a senior program director developing sports, teen, and family programs for thousands of families in Charlotte.
Jamie has experience working with local and international organizations to develop strategic partnerships to support existing organizations. Jamie was immediately compelled when Josh and Angie shared their vision for The Summit and was the first to move into the neighborhood. She serves as the Community Connector for Urban Life.
Garrett was born and raised in Charlotte. He loves community outreach and has a heart for children. He serves diligently at Elevation Church in eKidz and loves the time he gets to spend interacting with everyone. Within the last several years, God ignited a fire in his heart for building relationships with people, which is why he felt Urban Life was an ideal opportunity for him. He is expectant for the Lord to move mightily this year in both his life and the community of Wesley Heights.
Katie is a free spirit who never lets an opportunity pass her by, especially one that allows her to travel and be submersed in a different culture and community. Because of that, she moved from Ontario, Canada to be involved in the real and big work God is doing in West Charlotte! She has a passion for working with inner city youth and recently graduated from the University of Geulph-Humber, majoring in Family and Community Social Services. Through her schooling and work experiences, she has been able to work with numerous non-profit agencies to do what she loves: support and encourage people as they grow and develop into the men and women God has called them to be.
Rachel is from Baltimore, 22 years old, and a student at Uncc. Although she has lived in many different places, Charlotte is one of her favorites. She has always had a heart for discovering the different gifts and talents in the people placed around her, so Urban Life was naturally a mission she was delighted to be a part of.
Bailey started into Urban Life immediately after graduating High School. She loves the Lord and has a big heart for serving. During her high school career, she traveled to the country of Nicaragua three times, served at the Los Angeles dream center, and did inner city missions in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She also had the privilege to serve on an eTeam at Elevation Church throughout High School and continues to do so. She never thought the Lord would lead her to Urban Life, but looks forward to seeing how He shapes her during the year.
CURRICULUM – EDUCATION & PLANNING
The Urban Life curriculum strives to educate and encourage Urbanites that they can and how they will make a difference. This is accomplished through the study and discussion of a diverse collection of books, workbooks, articles, documentaries, and esteemed community leaders from the Charlotte region.
Journaling and blogging will be key components within the program to ensure personal application and transformation.
The goal of Urban Life is to really love our neighbors. We aren’t just here to work in the neighborhood and go home. This is our home, so we intend to form intentional relationships with Wesley Heights’ residents. Through outreach initiatives within the Wesley Heights community we strive to create unique and creative adventures to bring the community together.
Over the course of 11 months Urbanites will have the opportunity to plug in with multiple non-profit organizations that have a heart for changing our city. The hope is to expose Urbanites to a vast array of ministries while also serving alongside co-laborers in our community. These organizations have partnered with Urban Life and invited us to join their West Charlotte mission.
As an Urbanite you will be continually challenged to grow and mature as a Christ follower. You will be required to partner with a local church, of your choice, becoming a part of God’s family within the community and establishing a spiritual home base.
Each day, there will be time set aside for devotion and prayer. Your City Director & Executive Director will also be available for one-on-one meetings for individual mentoring and a listening ear.
Living in a Christian community together, Urbanites will become a family, praying together, serving and supporting one another. Urbanites will participate in morning devotions, team dinners, group discussions and pursue a strong relationship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Over the course of the year, Urbanites raise $725 a month, totaling $7,975 for the 11 month program. This amount covers housing, utilities, food stipend, access to health care and program costs.
If needed, Urban Life staff is available for guidance on how to raise support.
SCROLL DOWN TO APPLY
PARTNER WITH URBAN LIFE
The Westside Story is a growing group of individuals, nonprofits, and businesses that believe strategic relationships bring forth transformation in under served communities.
THE MOVEMENT FOUNDATION
The Movement Foundation exists to act as a conduit for Movement Mortgage and its affiliated family of companies to reinvest the profits that are generated back into the communities that Movement Mortgage serves. Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love your God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. The Movement Foundation represents our attempt to love our neighbors.
THE SUMMIT APARTMENTS
The Summit Apartments function as a launching-pad for families transitioning out of homelessness, housing for Urban Life’s Urbanites, and a home for locals invested in the overall goal to see transformation through relationships. The Summit is positioning itself for long-term restoration by partnering with strategic community organizations.
If you or your organization would like to become a part of the Westside Story, please contact Josh Blackson at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Upcycle Life was founded in early 2012 and is a Charlotte based non-profit that employs refugee women. They are able to do this through creating product out of recycled billboard and banner that is donated by companies throughout the greater Charlotte area. Currently, four wonderful ladies hold a position at UpCycle. Throughout the week, not only do they create the product that is sold, but they also take English and finance classes. The goal is for them to become comfortable in a work environment, establish a financial base, and eventually move on to greater employment by using the skills they learned. UpCycle sets a standard of dignity and hope for their employees. They encourage their staff, further their skills, and teach them how to work for a fair wage. They believe in the West Side Story and have played a huge part in providing resources, work space, and countless opportunities to serve for Urban Life.
There are many ways to be a part of the Urban Life movement. One way would be through our Wish List. As we go through the year, we are always in need of miscellaneous items that would further the growth and development of our community. We will keep an updated Wish List on the website and if you would like to support us in that way, email Michelle Mcneill at email@example.com.
-Gift cards: gas, grocery store, etc.
-Food: groceries, dinner, etc.
-Swiffer Sweep n’ Vac or Dirt Devil for hardwood floors
-Kitchen supplies: Frying pan, kettle, can opener, pot, etc.
-Toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, etc.
-Neighborhood fall festival needs (please contact Michelle Mcneill at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Please consider supporting one of our Urban Missionaries as they have to raise $8,000 for the entirety of the year. Please note who you are supporting or if you are just donating to the Urban Life movement.