SAN JOSÉ, CA, USA
Servant Partners' San José staff are planted in both the Washington-Guadalupe neighborhood and the Mayfair neighborhood, where they live among many undocumented, low-income neighbors.
The Washington-Guadalupe Neighborhood includes approximately 12,000 residents and is about 85% Latino, including a large number of recent immigrants. The residential areas take up a little less than a square mile, for a population density of approximately 15,000 per square mile. The Mayfair neighborhood, located three and a half miles from Washington, hosts a very similar demographic with a more varied ethnic makeup. Mayfair is home to a significant Filipino elder and Vietnamese immigrant community and nearly 80% of residents speak a language other than English in the home.
San José as a whole includes more than a million people in its sprawl. Though it keeps a low profile relative to other U.S. cities of its size, San José is the tenth most populous city in the nation, and about 120,000 people larger than its more famous neighbor, San Francisco.
The drivers of San José’s economic success are high-tech engineering and computer companies—the city calls itself the “Capital of Silicon Valley”—but not many Washington or Mayfair residents have such jobs. Because so many residents are undocumented, landlords seem less concerned about upkeep and density restrictions. People packing houses or apartments with multiple families or several adults is not uncommon. This means that, despite the old age and lack of quality, rental prices in Washington and Mayfair are near the San José average.
In response to the high level of congestion in the high tech capital of the Silicon Valley our work has three main thrusts. One, Servant Partners staff have planted a church affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant, Shalom Iglesia del Pacto. In addition to our Sunday afternoon services, we offer weekly neighborhood Bible studies, programs for youth (i.e. tutoring and music lessons), English classes, legal counseling with local lawyers and pastoral counseling.
Servant Partners staff engage in direct ministry with their neighbors, mostly around the theme of building friendships of mutual blessing between the materially rich and poor. We have laid a foundation for bridging the gap between the rich and the poor by establishing San Jose Bridge Communities, our non-profit. This is an innovative approach where the rich and poor are both trained to understand one another and build networks of relationships which are mutually transformative. We invite neighbors to participate in a sixteen week life-skills training course after which they determine a goal they want to achieve. We then match them with allies from the larger Silicon Valley who can help them meet their goal.
Third, our staff lead a group of urban ministry interns, who are young adults exploring what it means to follow Christ's call to love their neighbors, locally and world-wide. This creates an opportunity for those new to urban ministry to develop skills and understanding while living in Christian community.