MTR Yearbook: Community Matters
“Another thing the Church can do to make the principle of brotherhood a reality is to keep men’s minds and visions centered on God. Many of the problems America now confronts can be explained in terms of fear. One of the best ways to rid oneself of fear is to center one’s life in the will and purpose of God.”
-Stride Toward Freedom, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King’s vision was for the freedom of all people—regardless of color—living with one another in peace and dignity. He called this vision the Beloved Community. And achievement of this vision, he taught, was dependent upon God’s love working through community, a “universal involvement” of people united around this one objective. The Church of today, and of Memphis, maintains this timeless vision for redeemed and beloved communities of peace.
We remember the apostle Paul, who shared a similar vision of people united regardless of race, status, or gender: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). And we agree with Dr. King’s instruction that these communities are best realized as we keep our minds and visions centered on God and our lives lived within His will and purpose.
Since our beginning in 2009, Memphis Teacher Residency has attempted to learn and practice an intersection of the gospel of Jesus Christ with the deep need within public, urban education. And so, taking the biblical value of community as our guide, we aim to address that need in a way that both honors existing communities and develops new community among our residents, graduates, staff, and neighborhood partners. And ultimately, we understand, it is a connection to the gospel of God’s grace—keeping our “minds and visions centered on God” as Dr. King said—that supplies the spiritual power necessary to sustain this movement and to grow the Beloved Community we ultimately wish to see.
For the purposes of this initial Yearbook, we have attempted to focus our writings largely around the distinctives that inform our views of community both within our MTR family and among our great city’s most marginalized neighborhoods. In the articles that follow, we discuss why community is a valuable end-goal, from both a theological and a practical perspective. We describe the type of community we strive to create within MTR, and the ways in which we foster it. We explain the role of the MTR professional community in training effective teachers. And, finally we discuss our partnership with schools and organizations in our strategic neighborhoods. The broader picture we hope you take away is that a peaceful, restored community is both the ultimate goal of our work and a powerful means for bringing about that vision.
We count it our honor to be able to partner with and learn from all who desire to serve the common good through education, beginning with the education of the most marginalized. We hope you will read and consider the ideas contained within our Yearbook, and, of course, we welcome your thoughts and conversations.