Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx
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Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx

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by Heidi Neumark
     
 

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This book is a song of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for the people whose courageous witness has transfigured this community-and this pastor. Thanksgiving for the gift of these stories that cry out to be told and retold because in the midst of death they rise to fill the air with life.

Breathing Space is the story of a young woman, Heidi Neumark, and the

Overview

This book is a song of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for the people whose courageous witness has transfigured this community-and this pastor. Thanksgiving for the gift of these stories that cry out to be told and retold because in the midst of death they rise to fill the air with life.

Breathing Space is the story of a young woman, Heidi Neumark, and the Hispanic and African-American Lutheran church-aptly named Transfiguration-that took a chance calling on a pastor from a starkly different background. Despite living and working in a milieu of overwhelming poverty and violence, Neumark and the congregation encounter even more powerful forces of hope and renewal.

This is the story of a church and a community creating space for new life and breath in a place where children suffer the highest asthma rates in the nation. It's also the story of a young woman-working, raising her children, and struggling for spiritual breathing space. Through poignant, intimate stories, Neumark charts her journey alongside her parishioners as pastor, church, and community grow in wisdom and together experience transformation.

Editorial Reviews

Bill Wylie-Kellerman
This is a book that takes your breath away and at the same time gives it back. I have every suspicion, and say it with a sigh, that Heidi Neumark has written a classic to be.
Sojourners
Publishers Weekly
In 1984, when Neumark became pastor of Transfiguration Lutheran Church, the South Bronx was groaning under decades of neglect. A 1976 HUD policy called "planned shrinkage" had radically reduced city services, including hospitals and schools, and only people too poor to move elsewhere remained in this area of sewage treatment plants and torched apartment buildings. For 19 years Neumark lived and worked among addicts, pushers, prostitutes, people with AIDS, abused women and children and gang members, without abandoning hope: "I am drawn to a different vision-the walls rebuilt, the land reclaimed, the people who rise up like grass improbably breaking through slabs of stone." A gifted storyteller, she portrays people who, despite personal tragedies and minimal resources, band together to build low-income housing, create first-rate schools, restore their church, plant trees and help each other through crises. People like Burnice, who initially came to church to pick up Christmas gifts, intending to trade them for drugs and then kill herself with an overdose; but who kept coming back, got her GED, found a job and is now a leader in church and community. "Some future pillars of the church arrive in ruins," Neumark wryly notes. With its hard-nosed realism and passion for God, this memoir should appeal to people of faith across the political spectrum. (Oct.) Forecast: Books on social justice rarely grace bestseller lists, but Neumark's perceptive reflections, lyrical writing style and ability to create a sense of place call to mind writers such as Alex Kotlowitz and Jonathan Kozol. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Newly ordained Lutheran minister Neumark, a risk taker who knew Spanish from mission work in Latin America, answered a call from a South Bronx parish in 1984 and has been ministering there ever since. Her memoir, at once funny and searing, spans her 20-year tenure at the Transfiguration Lutheran Church. Neumark revitalized the congregation, which was struggling to survive in a culture of violent revenge, sewage dumping, and bureaucratic neglect. The author tells how she nurtured the leadership gifts of single women in the neighborhood to strengthen programs: support groups, after-school child care, and bilingual education. She also led a community movement to create affordable housing and improve public schools. Neumark admits she has struggled with stress overload, lack of time to spend with her husband and children, and fear of gunshots in the night. Her story will appeal to general readers and to clergy, who will find many inspiring sermon illustrations here. A good choice for most public and seminary libraries.-Joyce Smothers, M.L.S., M.Div. student, Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
With its hard-nosed realism and passion for God, this memoir should appeal to people of faith across the political spectrum.--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Surrounded by violence and poverty and threatened by urban renewal, Transfiguration Lutheran Church under pastor Neumark survived and, perhaps miraculously, thrived . . . Her story proves genuinely inspirational as we follow her from despair and frustration to cautious optimism in the face of a still tenuous future." --Booklist

"Breathing Space is a beautifully produced book, and it has a utopian poignancy . . . Yet it is grounded in the virtue of hope."--James S. Torrens, America: The National Catholic Weekly

Winner of a 2004 Wilbur Award

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807095829
Publisher:
Beacon Press
Publication date:
09/04/2012
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Heidi B. Neumark has served as pastor of Transfiguration Lutheran Church in the South Bronx since 1984. She is a founding member of South Bronx Churches, an ecumenical community organizing group that has trained local leaders, built hundreds of low-cost homes, and established a top-ranked public high school. The Reverend Neumark is also the founder of Transfiguration Community Life Center, Inc., an organization providing after-school and job-training programs for youth, HIV and domestic violence education and support, and other services. She lives with her family in New York City.

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Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago