From New Creation to Urban Crisis: A History of Action Training Ministries, 1962-1975

Younger, George D. From New Creation to Urban Crisis: A History of Action Training Ministries, 1962-1975. Chicago, IL: Center for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1987.

George Younger’s book, From New Creation to Urban Crisis, details the history, development, and eventual demise of action training ministries—originally organized as “urban training programs”—generated and supported by mainline Protestant denominations during the 1960s and early 1970s. Himself involved in “action training” as director of the Methodist-initiated Metropolitan Urban Service Training program (MUST) in New York City, Younger devotes the first portion of the book to the background of training in the church and industrial society (Chapters 1 and 2) before looking at the concept and practice of action training ministries (Chapter 3), the organization and activities of the programs developed during the period (Chapter 4), and the factors which led, in his words, to their “abandonment” by the denominations in the early to mid 1970s (Chapter 5). <p> Chapter 4, “The Development of Action-Training Programs,” provides the bulk of the book. The chapter’s overview of the denominations’ post-World War II involvement in urban mission serves as background for an extended examination of the many programs and centers belonging to the Action Training Coalition (ATC) and other, non-ATC ministries. Chapter 6 draws together the study’s learnings and conclusions. Younger finds that action training agencies were largely developed by denominational bodies on an ecumenical basis initially to train clergy and religious professionals in “urban mission,” yet later they began training a wider audience to address issues of social change, racism, and others. The book concludes with eight appendices devoted to the movement’s various training centers and programs, the members and meetings of ATC, case studies and other details on specific programs and centers, a chronology of urban mission and action training in the US, and suggestions for future research.