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Dr. Rick Tobias

Dr Rick Tobias

“SCUPE gave me a new theology and a new way of looking at faith and scriptures. It pointed me to all the scriptures that are about compassion, justice, inclusion, and rights of the poor. I left SCUPE multidimensional with a deeper, richer theology.”

Dr. Rick Tobias
Community Advocate & Former CEO
Yonge Street Mission
Toronto, Canada

 

During my 30 year tenure, Yonge Street Mission in Toronto has grown from a $1 million to a $10 million budget with 120 staff. We provide job training for entry level positions and have become the leading employer of people from our neighborhood. At Yonge Street Mission, among other things, we do community building, direct services, and community development.

I came to Chicago in 1979 and completed a full year of my seminary education at SCUPE. One of the things I learned at SCUPE was that you don’t accomplish anything in the city short term. When I came to Toronto I thought long term was 10 years. I have since revised that because it takes a long time to change culture. Urban Ministry is a long term commitment.

In this work you need to be theologically and philosophically undergirded. SCUPE gave me a new theology and a new way of looking at faith and scriptures. It pointed me to all the scriptures that are about compassion, justice, inclusion, and rights of the poor. Coming from a Catholic and Baptist background I had never heard a sermon before on poverty and justice. SCUPE showed me this whole other side of what it means to be a Christian. When I came to SCUPE my theology was one dimensional. I left SCUPE multidimensional with a deeper richer theology.

We are a Christian faith community in the city, but our programs and volunteer base are very inclusive, and cross many faith traditions. SCUPE taught me to listen to people who do not share my world view. I believe the highest manifestation of the Realm of God is Embrace. SCUPE started me on that journey.

The city and the issues we face as a society need the church. We also need clergy able to think bigger than their denominations and seminaries and innovative leaders able to think in new and creative ways. SCUPE helped me to become that kind of leader. As a result, Yonge Street Mission is today is a very successful organization.