A key component of the Boaz & Ruth mission is bridge building between races, economic classes, and geographic sections, We seek to bridge the gap between those who possess wealth and privilege and those who do not. Our cross-cultural connections match resources and needs in both groups through our business enterprises, our connecting dinners and events, our mission trips, and our Beyond Dialogue series. Through these activities we deal with our shared and sometimes painful history and our broken present. Coming together in new relationships we are empowered to become people of courage changing the "way it has always been done" to the way it can be done. Together we can impact our future bringing about a healthy community for all people.
We chose our name to remind us of this transforming power of human relationships. The name derives from the scripture story of Boaz, a prominent and affluent Israelite living in 400 BC, who shared his excess food and wealth with Ruth, a poor stranger from the distant land of Moab, who needed it for herself and her mother-in-law, Naomi. Eventually Ruth and Boaz married, becoming the great grandparents of King David and the ancestors of Jesus. We are called to
Within the Richmond community, the disparity between the haves and the have-nots has increased even during the most prosperous economic time in US history, exacerbating a cultural division rooted in racial tension and distrust. We see this dramatically when we examine two vastly different Richmond neighborhoods: the affluent and well-educated West End and the economically depressed and under-educated North District. (click here to see 2000 census statistics and detail) Historically (and typically) these communities rarely interact with each other, viewing one another with suspicion and, sometimes, outright hostility. We are a city full of Boazes and full of Ruths neither knowing how to come together, nor recognizing how much our welfare depends on each other.
By locating Boaz & Ruth in the heart of the North District, we are tackling this issue head on through programs which include monthly social, spiritual and educational events designed to bring these disparate communities together. (click here to see Connecting Across Richmond Events) Attendance averages more than 150 people from throughout the Richmond area. Events are planned, implemented and attended by trainees as opportunities for leadership training and social development / networking. In addition to such events, the store itself draws bargain-hunters and antiquers from throughout the metropolitan area to a community rarely visited by middle and upper class Richmonders.
A common thread in throughout this story is our belief that change comes best in the context of relationships. A second common thread is our belief that regardless of our circumstances or our address, we are at the same time a wealthy Boaz and a Ruth in need. At Boaz & Ruth we recognize that the most important word in our name is the "and." As we connect across racial, economic, and geographic lines in our city and our country great power for healing and transformation is born.
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