"For some 20 years, America's cities have seen a reverse migration from the suburbs to increasingly vibrant downtowns, where the new urban dwellers are finding an array of lofts and condominiums, restaurants and clubs, lively street festivals and vibrant art and music. The urban neighborhoods are attracting artists, musicians and others of what sociologist Richard Florida calls the "creative class," as well as professionals, students and retirees-all seeking the energy and spontaneity often missing in the suburbs.
It's new territory for many Christian congregations who fled deteriorating downtowns in the 1960s for more fruitful fields of harvest in the burgeoning suburbs-and now see a growing and culturally influential class of creative people populating inner cities.
'I wouldn't say we're going after a niche market,' says Winn Collier, pastor of the new All Souls Church, a Virginia Baptist congregation ministering in Charlottesville's lively downtown not far from the University of Virginia. 'We want to be a church for the whole city. But one of the cultures that we have a deep resonance with and in which we want to see the gospel take root is the artistic, progressive urbanite.'"