Jonathan Brooks is the pastor of Canaan Community Church in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood and the author of the forthcoming book, Church Forsaken: Practicing Presence in Neglected Neighborhoods. He is a community developer, hip hop artist and Chicago city director for Mission Year. Jonathan grew up in Englewood on Chicago’s south side, moved away, and eventually returned to build community. Together with his wife Miche’al and community members, Jonathan created the 5 Loaves Food co-op, providing healthy food options for the neighborhood. In this episode of RePlacing Church, Jonathan joins me to discuss:

  • The history and challenges of his urban community
  • White flight, disinvestment, and neglected neighborhoods
  • The narrative of escaping forsaken places, and why he returned
  • How a ‘bifocal' perspective helps us to see brokenness and beauty at the same time
  • Why there are no God-forsaken places, only church-forsaken ones
  • The power of ownership and collaboration in a place


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Episode Song Credits: “Another Wrong to Right” and “You Won't Walk Alone” by Mercir. “Closed” by Zadok Wartes. Used with Permission. Production Assistance by Nate Tubbs.