Trinity Vineyard Church senior pastor Kris McDaniel stumbled across the latter. Situated on the northwest edge of downtown Atlanta, McDaniel’s church began to seek out ways to practically show love toward the impoverished neighboring community of Vine City, an area where Dr. Martin Luther King and other civil rights activists lived during the 1950s. What the church discovered was that the environment surprisingly played a big role in opening doors into this community.
“Our long-term goal is more connected to urban renewal and development through the youth in that community,” McDaniel said. “We believe that if we can impact the youth in the community, we’ll be invited to participate with them in what they want to do. We felt like we needed to take a step back and instead of trying to put our handprint on their environment, we wanted to expose them to some places in nature they had never seen before in person.”
Trinity’s outreach to Vine City consisted of inviting a handful of youth on a trip to one of Northeast Georgia’s crown jewels, Amicalola Falls. And McDaniel and the rest of the team couldn’t believe what happened: rediscovering a newfound appreciation for creation and the beauty in nature. “These kids never leave Vine City, so it was amazing to watch them take in a waterfall in person for the first time in their lives,” he said. “I’ve been to Amicalola Falls plenty of times, but when you take 20 youth from the inner city to some beautiful spot in creation, you kind of look at those things you’ve seen so many times through the lens of their perspective. To them, it was brand new and so natural.”
Once, Trinity’s Vine City outreach consisted of taking some of the kids to an Atlanta Braves baseball game. That was the last time that happened. All the kids wanted to know was when they were going back to a lake or some other place in nature. “At first we said, ‘Let’s go do something practical,’” McDaniel said. “And the most practical thing we can do is invite these kids out into nature so they can experience the beauty of God’s creation and we can develop relationships with them.”
As Trinity moves forward in building inroads into the Vine City community, McDaniel hopes they can help the community create more green space for the residents to enjoy, something which is much-needed in the inner city. And they want to help lobby for more green space with the community’s youth, who have discovered a new passion for creation. “In ministry, there must be a holistic approach to whatever you do,” McDaniel said. “And in this case, helping usher in renewal and revitalization begins in the hearts of the people who have ownership in the community in which they live.”
2270 Defoor Hills Rd. NW
Atlanta, GA 30318