Why are cities a primary concern of the WEA Sustainability Center?

An excerpt from the section entitled "God Loves People, Places, and Cities" from the 2018 statement entitled The Gospel and the Future of Cities: A Call to Action best explains in a few sentences the reasons why. 

Because God created and loves in-placed people, God is concerned about the places where people live their lives—which today are modern forms of farms, villages, towns, and cities situated within, and dependent upon, the larger gift of creation.


The character and quality of these places—which people are responsible for designing and building—have a direct impact on the wellbeing of human families, individuals, and communities. Furthermore, the design of human settlements also affects the integrity and health of the earth’s ecosystems, which humans and all other creatures are dependent on for life.


Christians need to be concerned about the design of cities, towns, and villages. Indeed, it is a legitimate, abiding, and imperative concern for Christians because in God’s created order people and places are inextricably tied together. Furthermore, because God is concerned that people dwell in places that are fit for human flourishing, so too should Christians be concerned with the suitability of cities for human flourishing and care of creation.

Read the full statement below to fully understand why the WEA Sustainabilty Center has become a pioneer and a leader for how Christians biblically understand and holistically engage with cities. The WEA is leading the emergent field of Christian placemaking--that is actively working on making  the cities, towns and neighborhoods where people live places of thriving for all.

The Center pioneered this new perspective on cities in the evangelical community starting in 2012 when Dr. Chris Elisara founded the WEA Creation Care Task Force that latter became the WEA Sustainability Center in 2019.  Since 2012 several milestones have occurred in the Center's city and Christian placemaking work. Some of these milestones are described below. 

The Gospel and the Future of Cities: A Call to Action (2016 - 2018)

There are times in history when it is imperative that God’s people come together to pray, seek discernment, and act. Such a time was the gathering of evangelical Christians convened by the WEA, Urban Shalom Society, and other partners for the Gospel and the Future of Cities Summit on October 15 – 16, 2016 in Quito, Ecuador.  The purpose of the summit was for Christian leaders and organizations concerned about cities to engage with Habitat III, the global conference hosted every 20 years by UN-Habitat immediately following the summit in Quito. Habitat III was the culmination of a three year process of dialogue between experts, civil society, and UN member states about the best practices for urban development. The outcome of Habitat III was an inter-governmental agreement entitled The New Urban Agenda, which is the global road map for urban development for the next twenty years.  The outcome of the summit was a statement entitled The Gospel and the Future of Cities: A Call to Action.

As witnesses to the enormous spiritual, social, economic, and environmental challenges posed by today’s rapidly urbanizing world where the world’s population currently living in cities will grow from 50% to 70-75% within 20-30 years, the intent of the "Gospel and the Future of Cities: A Call to Action" statement is to motivate and activate the whole church to more deeply understand, love, and care for cities and their inhabitants from God’s perspective, and to become better equipped and effective for urban presence, ministry, work, and witness.

The statement was released at the UN-Habitat 9th World Urban Forum (WUF9) in Kuala Lumpur in February 2018. To learn more about the background of the statement read the WEA’s press release at this link.

Read The Gospel and the Future of Cities: A Call to Action.  

Add your name to the call to action by filling in this form.

Organizations and leaders who have endorsed the Gospel and the Future of Cities: A Call to Action statement include:

  • World Evangelical Alliance: Dr. Chris Elisara, Director WEA Creation Care Task Force.

  • Lausanne Movement: Dr. Ed Brown, Lausanne Catalyst for Creation Care.

  • Micah Global: Sheryl Haw, International Director.

  • Urban Shalom Society: Dr. Ash Barker, Mr. Andre Van Eymeren, Dr. Chris Elisara, Dr. Bryan McCabe, Mr. Michael Mata.

  • Christian Community Development Association: Noel Castellanos, President.

  • A Rocha International: Revd. Dave Bookless, Director of Theology.

  • Tearfund: Paul Cook, Head of Advocacy.

  • The Congress for the New Urbanism Members Christian Caucus: Leadership Committee: Mr. Mike Watkins, Ms. Sara Joy Proppe, Dr. Chris Elisara, Dr. Eric O. Jacobsen, Mr. Andrew Moore; Mr. Jay Hoekstra.

  • Institute for Urban Initiatives: Dr. Grace Dyrness

  • School of Intercultural Studies Fuller Theological Seminary: Dr. Bryant Myers & Dr. Jude Tiersma-Watson.

  • Gospel and the Future of Cities Summit October 15 – 16, 2016, Quito, Ecuador:  Ms. Loida Carriel Espinoza, Dr. Noah Toly, Mr. Andre Van Eymeren, Ms. Juliana Morillo, Dr. Ashley Barker, Dr. Christopher Miller, Ms. KrisTina Mata, Mr. Michael Mata, Dr. Richard E. Waldrop, Mr. John Liotti, Dr. Bryan McCabe, Mr. Frank Carrascoza, Dr. Mary Nelson, Mr. Eric Swanson, Dr. Chris Elisara.

11th World Urban Forum: Participation in UN-Habitat's Flagship SDG Cities Initiative (2022)

The WEA-SC's ongoing engagement with UN-Habitat led to an opportunity for Christian organizations to participate in the development and  implementation of UN-Habitat's SDG Cities Initiative.  Dr. Chris Elisara, who leads the WEA's Thriving Cities Initiative, led an official side event at the 11th World Urban Forum (WUF11) in Katowice, Poland, June 26-30, 2022. The Side Event was entitled "Mobilizing and Equipping Multi-Faith Organizations to be Key Implementation Partners for  SDG11 Through UN-Habitat’s Flagship Programme."  

The following videos provide some information about this event.



Faith for Cites: Leading the Initiative's Christian Tradition (2023 - present)

Through the leadership of Dr. Chris Elisara, the WEA has a significant role catalyzing the Christian community's involvement in the Faith for Cities initiative. Faith for Cities is the next step in the development of faith-based inclusion in UN-Habitat's SDG Cities Initiative. Learn more about this initiative at this link.