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Building A New Economy

Janira shares how a living wage enables her to respond to the emergent needs of her Philadelphia neighborhood

Janira does an activity with children in North Philadelphia

Janira Bremner describes her new role as “nurturing and cultivating Jesus Communities around the modality of dance and creative and expressive arts” in Philadelphia. Janira joined staff with Servant Partners Philadelphia last summer, having already lived in North Philadelphia for the last decade.


“I realized the ethos of Servant Partners–the mission to be present in urban poor communities–was a really ideal fit with my own sense of God’s invitation for me,” she said. Janira is originally from Jamaica, came to Philadelphia for a graduate degree in dance education, and remained in the neighborhood to be a missional presence in North Philadelphia. She hopes to use dance as a tool for community nurture, engagement, and enrichment.

Janira (right) with the SP Philadelphia team

With her introduction to Servant Partners came an introduction to fundraising, which she described as “a faith-provoking journey of discovery.” She said: “If one comes into this journey as a community member or already participating in God's incarnational work in an urban poor community, it means one already comes in with the constraints of the deficits in these communities. And so, fundraising requires a different economy.”


Hailing from Jamaica, Janira finds that the fundraising expectations in the U.S. are not normal among the church communities she’s connected to back home. For her, the fundraising process has required creative approaches.


“Fundraising is simultaneously an economy of relationships and economy of finances, which is tricky to balance,” she reflected. “But I’ve found myself in a mutuality of sharing. It’s not just a one-sided pressure to share, but I’ve found mutual encouragement in remembering and reflecting on God’s goodness and the hopes of redemption and restoration in our community.”


“If one comes into this journey as a community member or already participating in God's incarnational work in an urban poor community, it means one already comes in with the constraints of the deficits in these communities. And so, fundraising requires a different economy.”

The Staff Catalyst Fund created space for Janira to explore how she can fundraise among her networks in Jamaica and the U.S. and continue to be present to the needs of her neighborhood.


“The Staff Catalyst Fund was a great springboard that provided me with a living wage, which allowed me to commit most of my time to support-raising, learning communications tools, and reconnecting with friends and family in Jamaica,” Janira said. “And because I already live in the community I’m working in, life is already happening.”


Franklin Street, North Philadelphia

When a local family she knew was experiencing a housing need, Janira opened up her home for them to live with her. “Having a wage to take care of my living expenses has enabled me to have the capacity to do these various relational things and be present to the emergent aspects of life in North Philadelphia.”

The Staff Catalyst Fund is designed to help leaders like Janira do sustainable urban ministry by resourcing them to develop their own networks, assisting with costs, providing for spiritual and emotional support needs, and creating access to coaching and training. You can give to the Staff Catalyst Fund at www.servantpartners.org/vision2030.


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