A Brief History

2015 – Lima

Two streams of work, one by the International Society for Urban Mission (ISUM) led by Dr. Ash Barker, and one by the World Evangelical Alliance’s Creation Care Task Force, led by Dr. Chris Elisara, converged at the 2015 6th Micah Global Triennial in Peru to create a joint umbrella urban organization entitled the Urban Shalom Project. Later this organization would change its name to the Urban Shalom Society (USS).

2016 – Quito

What caused these two organizations to join forces and form a new organization? It was Habitat III, a global conference that occurs every twenty years convened by the UN agency dedicated to human settlements entitled UN-Habitat. At Habitat conferences the blueprint for urban development for the next twenty years is developed by UN member states. Recognizing the ecological sustainability of the planet would depend on the sustainable development of cities, the WEA Creation Care Task Force started in 2013 to engage with the three year process leading up to Habitat III scheduled for 2016 in Quito Ecuador. Dr. Elisara met with Dr. Barker at the 6th Micah Triennial to discuss joining together to represent the concerns and perspectives of the evangelical community at Habitat III. As part of this process the Urban Shalom Project convened a parallel global evangelical summit on cities immediately prior to Habitat III that produced the statement The Gospel and the Future of Cities: A Call to Action, which was signed by the World Evangelical Alliance, The Lausanne Movement, Micah Global, Tearfund, the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), A Rocha International, and many other organizations and leaders. An extension of The Cape Town Commitment (2010) and the Creation Care and Gospel: A Call to Action statement (2012), The Gospel and the Future of Cities: A Call to Action is a foundational document on cities, not only for USS, but the global evangelical community.

2017 – Singapore

Following Habitat III, the Urban Shalom Project hosted an Urban Shalom Forum in conjunction with the first ever, thus historic, UN-Habitat Faith-Based Urban Thinkers Campus in Singapore in 2017. The focus of these two events was on assessing the outcomes of Habitat III, known as the New Urban Agenda (NUA), and to take the next steps in developing the Urban Shalom Project and its agenda for work. In 2017 the name was changed to the Urban Shalom Society (USS).

At the UN-Habitat Faith-Based Urban Thinkers Campus additional history was made with the milestone issuing of the Faith-Based Singapore Declaration in response to Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda, which states:

Inclusion of germane faith-based perspectives, and working relationships with faith-based organizations co-committed to the common good, are necessary to the success of the New Urban Agenda.

2018 – Kuala Lumpur

In 2018 USS convened members to attend the UN-Habitat’s 9thh World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur hosted, and another Urban Shalom Forum. The focus of WUF9 was the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

2019 – Nairobi, London, Costa Rica, Melbourne, Manila

In 2019 USS hosted 5 regional UN-Habitat Faith Based Urban Thinkers Campuses—Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), North America and Europe (one combined event in London, UK), Asia (Manila, Philippines), Central and South America (San Jose, Costa Rica), and Oceania (Melbourne, Australia). This work led to over 100 Christian leaders participating in UN-Habitat’s the 10th World Urban Forum and the Urban Shalom Forum hosted by USS, in Abu Dhabi in 2020.

2020 – Abu Dhabi

In 2020, USS convened members to attend the UN-Habitat’s 10th World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi and hosted the third Urban Shalom Forum. At WUF 10, USS members contributed to the research workshop Urban Faith and Resilience as well as the networking event Faith and Religion as a Pathway for Implementing the New Urban Agenda.

Also in 2020, USS formed a partnership with the Hub for Urban Initiatives, a leading non-profit organization that responds to the economic, housing, social, and spiritual needs of neighborhoods, cities, and counties from local community, regional, national, international, and faith-based perspectives. The Hub for Urban Initiatives is the fiscal and organizational umbrella of USS.