TheBlackManCan visits the Windy City of Chicago, IL for its next EXTRAordinary Black Men Feature. This man is fast becoming one of the most profound and insightful voices of his generation. TheBlackManCan would like to introduce you to, Patrick D. Shaffer. Patrick is a public intellectual, sacred activist, founder of Urban Advantage and City of Faith Christian Church of Chicago. Patrick has a conversation with TheBlackManCan that includes but is not limited to his diverse and global perspective, progressive leadership and the most pressing issue facing society.
TheBlackManCan: Patrick, in 2005 you founded City of Faith Christian Church of Chicago, which has been described as a “more open, less traditional” faith-based place of worship. How is your church different from other, more traditional churches?
PS: I think at its base it is how I see church leadership, interpret sacred writings and the potential of what we can be as a body of influencers. We endeavor to let what we do be a direct outgrowth of how we understand ourselves. As we understand ourselves in less traditional ways our doing becomes less traditional in how we serve God and the community to which we are called.
TheBlackManCan: Was it your intention to establish a church that is different from others in how it addresses cultural, social and religious concerns?
PS: Absolutely, I had become enamored with the silence of the church and in some ways became disenchanted with our inability to affect change and to simply help on critical issues that impact culture. In the senior pastorate I wanted to be fearless in combating issues I believed Jesus would care about.
TheBlackManCan: Since you have traveled throughout the United States, Africa and Europe, you have been afforded a diverse and global perspective on issues that plague the human race. How has this influenced the way you address your audience as a pastor and a writer?
PS: Well first, because we are human. There is nothing human that is foreign to us. The plight of the human condition covers the globe. Second, I became sensitive to the world as a mission field and keenly aware of America as a field that touches nations around the world. If America is slow moving in taking care of the least of its citizens we lose our moral authority to be an example to other nations.
TheBlackManCan: Why is it important to build a spiritual foundation?
We are all connected to our Maker. Part of our spiritual, mystical quest is to remember that Maker in a conscious way that then becomes transformative. The foundation that you ask about is really a solid connection uninterrupted by the static that life and its problems bring. Having that “foundation” helps us hear and know which is essential to growing into a healthy and whole life.
TheBlackManCan: You are an active spokesperson on issues facing society.What are the most pressing and why?
PS: Well, there are too many to name but part of my life’s work and personal mission is to combat HIV/AIDS. I hate that disease, for personal reasons. The statistics from the CDC are more than mere numbers to me, I see faces, and I know names. I am not sure in my lifetime that I will see a cure but with all my energy I want to see these numbers fall dramatically among all races but specifically amongst black and brown people.
TheBlackManCan: As the founder of “Urban Advantage,” could you please tell us more about the mission and goal of this organization?
PS: I founded Urban Advantage to simply be a center of resources for disadvantaged youth in the inner city that enables them to far exceed the perceived limitations of their environment.
TheBlackManCan: You were named one of the Most Influential Men in America by the National Urban League’s Urban Influence magazine in 2009, how did it feel to be selected for such an accolade?
PS: I felt tremendously humbled and terribly troubled. At the core of me I need my life to have meaning and my days full of reasons to serve. I felt embarrassed that in some ways I had not lived into being a “man of influence,” at least on how I measure and define influence. So it caused me push myself to meet and fully live into that recognition with the days I have left.
TheBlackManCan: What exactly is progressive leadership and could you tell us more about your passion for it?
PS: As I define it, it is a brand of leadership that is informed and well trained but un-loyal to archaic ways of thinking that don’t work and maybe have never worked. To be progressive, as I define it is to challenge long held assumptions, to be sensitive to the time, culture and to know that all leaders have been given a marked amount of time to make an impact.
TheBlackManCan: You are to set to release your Memoir Love Again: A spiritual Memoir.
PS: What ignited the spark to write this memoir? What can readers expect to gain from reading this book? Well, it was never meant to be a book. A friend suggested that I journal, I did, I let someone read it and they pushed me to do more with it. I found that blank pages provided a safe place for my thoughts and emotions that I don’t share easily. I wrote not knowing how much of a release I would get from it and how healing it would be for me. I want to share it with readers because I believe in the same ways it touched me and healed me they will be able to find the same for themselves. The book releases March 2011.
TheBlackManCan: What is the Black Church’s role in the 21st Century?
PS: The role of the Black church is of its own choosing. My fear is that we will choose a role by not choosing at all. When we refuse to engage, when we refuse to be a voice for those who have no voice, when we refuse to make choices that are righteous but unpopular then by default we advocate not to be relevant and a instrument of goodness and peace. For far too long there has been a glaring disconnect between ideas of rightness and vain theological assumptions that lead us down the road to nowhere. I hope the road we choose would cause our role in the 21st century to be important to all who really need us.
TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for Black Men?
PS: You know, it’s hard being a man. Sometimes we grow in ways that go unnoticed or often under appreciated and yet what we all have to do every day is try to be a better man than we were yesterday. So my advice to men is what I tell myself everyday “wake up, try again, and try harder to be better than you were yesterday…”
Our mission is to actively promote a positive black male image. Welcome to the Spotlight: League of EXTRAordinary Black Men. Here, we spotlight black men weekly who are having a positive impact in communities across the country. These men are actively promoting a positive black male image each and every day. If you know a man that should be spotlighted please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org In that email please state who you are and why you are nominating this individual. Please leave your contact information and the contact information of the individual you are nominating.