You are invited to help influence urban history

Dear ISUM friends,

isumWe are in decisive times for the future of our new urban world. Not least are the decisions being made for the ‘New Urban Agenda’ that will be launched at the United Nations Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador (Oct 17-20, 2016) that aim to impact the world for the next, crucial 20 years.

We believe Christians have a lot to learn about urbanism at UN Habitat III, but we also have a lot to offer from our biblical perspective, experiences, expertise, concerns and values. The question is, however, will Christians show up at this decisive time or just sit on the sidelines watching?

ISUM-Micah Global and the Lausanne/WEA Creation Care Network have joined forces as Urban Shalom Project to help the Christian community engage with urban challenges and to especially be involved in the global dialogue on urbanism being convened by the United Nations at the Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador.

Here is your opportunity to be part of history.  You are invited to Quito, Ecuador for our special pre-UNHIII Summit: The Gospel and the Future of Cities (Oct. 15-16) and then to be a Christian witness from our UN Habitat III Basecamp to attend Habitat III (Oct 17-20) where our goals are to be a thoughtful Christian presence in the dialogue, to pray for the participants attending and therefore try to influence the outcomes of the UNHIII Conference.

We also hope to launch a Micah Publication at the Summit: ‘Urban Shalom and the Cities we Need’. 

Please book below for this historic gathering ASAP. We do have a few spots available for people to present ideas and case studies in the Summit, but programming is being finalised soon.


Dr Ash Barker,
Micah Global’s International Society for Urban Mission

Dr. Chris Elisara—Director, World Evangelical Alliance Creation Care Task Force.
Co-Conveners of Urban Shalom Project

To book see links below:

>  ‘Gospel and the Future of Cities’ Summit and accommodation for UNH3 basecamp booking page is here.

> To go to UNH3 you must also book here as a UNH3 participant.

To keep up to date with news see links below:
> Urban Shalom Project Facebook Page
> ISUM Facebook Page


New Urban World Journal

The latest edition of New Urban World journal is now available as free pdf here. Includes feature articles from Paul Thompson and Lynne Taylor, Mats Tunehag, Judith Johnston and Ian Allsop as well as book reviews, regular columns and reports from the urban mission world.

New Urban World Journal

New Urban World Journal 5The latest edition of New Urban World journal is now available as free pdf here. Includes feature articles from John Perkins, Bob Lupton and Robert Linthicum as well as book reviews, poetry, regular columns and reports from the urban mission world

Five Important Transitions and Announcements

The International Society for Urban Mission has moved into a season of important transitions. We value your prayers during this time. Formed by an international group of urban mission activists, thinkers and leaders in Klong Toey slum in January 2012, ISUM is moving from a pioneering phase into a growth and sustainability phase. Our journal New Urban World, Summits, book “Seeking Urban Shalom” and web presence have so far helped to bring diverse urban Christian leaders together to better promote and seek Shalom in the world’s cities. Five important changes are happening as we seek to further God’s impact through us.

  1. In December 2014, ISUM will become an expression of Micah (the new exciting entity comprising of Micah Network and Micah Challenge) with a special focus on seeking shalom in cities with urban poverty. (Micah Network is a global network for integral mission with 700 member organisations, churches and leaders in 88 countries. Micah Challenge is a global coalition of Christians holding governments to account for their pledge to halve extreme poverty by 2015.) This new collaboration will give ISUM a more stable organisational platform and greater reach with urban leaders in Majority World cities. ISUM is grateful for Urban Neighbours Of Hope’s willingness to host ISUM in its first phase of our organisational life and looks forward to working as part of this global partnership. The next ISUM Summit will be imbedded as a track within the Micah Global Consultation in Lima, Peru, from 14th to 18th September 2015.
  2. ISUM’s New Urban World journal has been amplifying voices, views and insights for and from urban Christians leaders around the world for two years. We are grateful for the outstanding work of Dr. Stephen Burris as ISUM’s Editor and Dr. Kendi Howells Douglas as Associate Editor in helping make this dream happen. It is therefore with sadness that ISUM has accepted Dr. Burris’ and Dr. Howells Douglas’ resignations. The November edition of New Urban World will be their last. Dr. Burris has fulfilled his commitment to lead four editions, as the November edition will be the fifth edition. Dr. Howells Douglas has a full workload at Great Lakes Christian University. On behalf of ISUM, we want to thank Stephen and Kendi for their hard work and are especially appreciative of their instrumental role in enabling urban voices to be heard through New Urban World journal.
  3. We are pleased to announce that Associate Professor Darren Cronshaw has been appointed as the new Senior Editor of New Urban World journal and ISUM Publishing. A/Prof Cronshaw was the editor of ISUM’s first book “Seeking Urban Shalom“. He is an urban missiologist, writer and pastor based in Melbourne, Australia, and previously was Editor-in-Chief of UNOH Publications. Joel Ickes will continue as Managing Editor of the journal and there will be a number of regional Associate Editors from different parts of the world who will recruit contributors and promote the journal in their region. You can now download free past editions on PDFs of New Urban World and you can order both Kindle and print versions of New Urban World journal []. If you are interested in joining the ISUM Publications team or contributing to future editions of NUW Journal, contact Darren or Joel.
  4. We are also pleased to announce that Dr. Graham Hill has taken on the role of Editor for the ISUM book ‘”Signs of Hope in the City”. This book will include the keynote addresses and working group papers generated from the ISUM Summit 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It will include chapters from Dr. Jayakumar Christian, Dr John Perkins, Rene August, Wong Young Soon, and Seeta Gurung. You can view the ISUM keynote talks here. The book is expected to release in March 2015.
  5. As one of the founders of ISUM, my family and I are also personally in a transition season. We will move to Birmingham, England on November 19, 2014. I lived in Klong Toey slum in Bangkok, Thailand for 12 years, where I also wrote my PhD on the rise of slums that became the book “Slum Life Rising”. This book was a catalyst for forming ISUM. My family and I have enjoyed the last 6 months on furlough in my native Melbourne where we started the community I led, Urban Neighbours Of Hope, in 1993. Having left UNOH now, I will again be immersed in an urban poverty context, this time in Winson Green, Birmingham, joining the faculty at Springdale College where I will speak, write, teach, coach and mobilise urban leaders more widely for ISUM and Micah. I look forward to continue leading ISUM as part of Micah to make an even deeper impact on our new urban world as our future unfolds.

We would appreciate all your prayers as these crucial changes take place.

If you would like to join the ISUM conversations, see our ISUM Facebook page or visit our website

Dr Ash Barker
ISUM Convener and Director


A Good Malay Curry

IMG_0210This reflection comes from Darren Prince of InnerCHANGE, who attended the International Society for Urban Mission 2014 Summit in Kuala Lumpur.

A Good Malay Curry

Like a good Malay curry, the 2014 ISUM Summit is best described by the delicious blend of its many complex parts. I could tell you about the plenary speakers, Jayakumar and Perkins, proclaiming justice for the world’s urban poor and a message of radical love, at times in serendipitous stereo. I could summarize the fruit of the working groups: their immersions into the heart of Kuala Lumpur, their theological musings, their calls to prophetic action. I could try and capture the essence of the learnings distilled through the meaningful and varied workshops. Or the significance of the stories shared by urban practitioners from around the globe.

But that would be like trying to describe a curry by listing its ingredients. The beauty of the Summit is the way these pieces simmer and stew into something wholly different than its individual parts. This was the delightful surprise of the time together in Malaysia in late June: the way it all came together to point us towards signs of real, lasting hope for our cities. All within the hospitality offered by the generous, kind hearted people of our Malaysian host city.

The true joy, as when any tribe or family is gathered, was the rich diversity of people: urban practitioners of hope from around the globe, spanning the age brackets, the socio-economic groups, the theological and church traditions. My greatest take-away was the sheer number of deep connections with like-minded souls whom I had never met before but can’t wait to see again.

There is something special, dare I say sacred, to what God seems to be forming among the ISUM community; something not to be missed by those in the Micah Network who are eager to link arms with the next generation of urban workers for justice. I came away inspired, renewed, and reinvigorated for the work of hope in my city and for our increasingly urban world.

Dr John M Perkins

We are honored and privileged to announce that Dr. John M. Perkins will be joining us as a keynote speaker in Kuala Lumpur for the ISUM Summit 2014!

Dr. Perkins is an international speaker and teacher on racial reconciliation, leadership and Christian community development.

In 1983, John Perkins and his wife, Vera Mae Perkins along with a few friends and other major supporters, established the John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation & Development, Inc. for the sole purpose of supporting their mission of advancing the principles of Christian community development and racial reconciliation throughout the world.

In 1989, John Perkins called together a group of Christian leaders from across America that was bonded by one significant commitment—expressing the love of Christ in America’s poor communities, not at arms length, but at the grass-roots level. An association was formed and the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) held its first annual conference in Chicago in 1989. CCDA has grown from 37 founding members to 6,800 individuals and 600 churches, ministries, institutions and businesses in more than 100 cities and townships across the country.

Despite being a third grade drop-out, Perkins has been recognized for his work with eleven honorary doctorates from colleges and universities across the country and two universities have established John Perkins centers.

Join us is KL next year to meet Dr. Perkins and other Christian leaders, practitioners and activists to intentionally engage in our new urban world!

Sowing Seeds of Shalom

by Geoff & Sherry Maddock

Geoff and Sherry Maddock are urban missionaries and micro-farmers in Lexington, Kentucky who are passionate about neighbourhood transformation. They encourage Christians to embrace mission wherever they are “placed” locally not just in global generalisations; as neighbours not just church members; and taking an interest in justice and ecology not just individuals and their salvation. Readers love their encouragement to walk, plant, bake and shop locally as expressions of neighbourliness. “Sowing Seeds of Shalom in the Neighbourhood” is the first briefing paper form the first Summit of the International Society for Urban Mission (ISUM) and offers theological frameworks, principles, disciplines and practical suggestions for the urban dweller who wants to be involved in the work and joys of neighbourhood transformation.

You can buy the book from the UNOH web site.

First ISUM Summit Exceeds All Expectations

“Who we listen to determines what we hear.
Where we stand determines what we see.
What we do determines who we become.”
– Robert Mac Afee Brown

God brought together 200 urban Christian activists, thinkers and leaders for the first ISUM Summit. Hosted by the Evangelical Church of Bangkok from January 26 to 29, 2013, participants came from six continents, determined to extend further God’s reign on an increasingly urbanized earth. During this diverse gathering emerged a real sense of God bringing together trust, collaboration and solidarity.

Just over a year ago, when the International Society for Urban Mission was first formed in Klong Toey slum in January 2012, we knew something of the needs of our new urban world. What we didn’t know was who shared our willingness to find new ways forward with others. Within a year, the inspiring journal New Urban World was launched and our first Summit drew people from far and wide. These initiatives confirm that we are onto something urgent and important to God, at such a time as this.

The ISUM Summit was designed for participants to risk detecting the Spirit’s voice with others. Robert MacAfee Brown’s words reminded us that we were required to listen, stand and respond in solidarity with those on the edges, more than those at the centre. With this in mind, the Summit began with inspiration from Thai dancing, worship and plenary sessions from Shane Claiborne and Rosalee Ewell. Later we shared meals together, visited in small groups 30 immersion experiences across the city, and engaged in interviews with Bangkok activists and leaders in their context. These hands-on opportunities framed our time together. To further help give space to contribute and collaborate seven ISUM Working Groups were formed to develop seven ISUM Briefing Papers. Together they sought to detect findings for their areas generated from there immersion interviews as well as shared stories, workshops, panels, discussions, prayers and insights from the Summit. These connections can help change the trajectory of our lives and we hope can influence the direction of broader Body of Christ in the world.

Integral Urban Mission was the theme of this first summit. This concept encompasses the whole of life being important to God. We recognize that too many have either focused solely on the spiritual or solely on the material, but Christian faith insists we serve an incarnating God: “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood” (John 1:14, The Message). As the old saying goes, a spirit without a body is a ghost and a body without spirit is a corpse. We recognized that our own peace is tied up with the Shalom of God in our cities and therefore requires integral connections between God, people and the earth.

From the perspectives of each of the seven working group areas, these ISUM Briefing Papers became collaborative efforts, detecting where they saw the Spirit might be calling the people of God to give attention. The findings will be published as Kindle Singles (e-booklets between 10,000 to 15,000 words) and distributed with the help of Micah Network, World Evangelical Alliance and ISUM. Videos and articles of keynote addressees from Shane Claiborne and Rosalee Ewell, as well as interviews with activists from around the world will also be available on and published in the New Urban World Journal. We hope the resources and relationships generated at this Summit will help find more faithful and relevant responses to this new urban world. We know we have made a start, at least by finding kindred spirits and comrades for the journey. We look forward to seeing what God does through ISUM and the next Summit to be held in Kuala Lumpur in late June 2014. We are so grateful for all who helped make this dream become a reality!

Ash Barker, PhD
Convener, International Society for Urban Mission