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Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  173 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Breathing Space is the story of Heidi Neumark and the Hispanic and African-American Lutheran church-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 story of a commu
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 10th 2004 by Beacon Press (first published October 2nd 2003)
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Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Breathing Space is the memoir of Heidi Neumark, a Lutheran minister, who is a pastor in the South Bronx for 19 years. She starts in the mid-1980s as communities are being destroyed from poverty, addiction, asthma, and violence. Over time, she empowers her parishoners to reclaim their neighborhoods. Under her leadership, people recover from addiction, become educated and employed, and secure stable housing. She also helps to create better schools and affordable homes. At the end of her tenure, it ...more
Oct 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
Neumark is a gifted writer who wove together personal tales from her ministry in the Bronx with spiritual insight about justice and peace that resonated with me. I liked her honesty and candor and her willingness to tell it like it is. Though I know people who attend and love her current congregation in Manhattan, after reading this, I must say I'm sad for her old church in the Bronx. It sounds like they had a truly vibrant church with her at the helm.
Very good account from a woman who truly walks the walk of social justice action. Heidi Neumark in this book reminded me of Paul Farmer in Mountains beyond Mountains. South Bronx is closer than Haiti, Neumark is a minister rather than a doctor -- but they are both remarkable people effecting change in the face of great adversity.
Dec 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It wasn't especially well-written, but it was simple, down to earth, and real.
Elizabeth Andrew
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
For the past few weeks I've been living in the South Bronx with Heidi Neumark--and loving it. BREATHING SPACE tells the story of personal transformation wrought by church on pastor and communal transformation wrought on a church by this extraordinary leader. Neumark's theology is solid, and inspirational. While at times I wearied of scriptural references, I appreciate what she accomplished with so many Bible passages: A translation of our foundational scriptural stories into a contemporary setti ...more
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the book. It took me to a place I will likely never go, the Bronx, and opened my eyes to how far our relatively prosperous and supposedly progressive country has to go in treating fellow human beings with dignity and respect. I think other pastors would have thrown up their hands and left Transfiguration much sooner, but Heidi saw hope in those who others had cast out as being beyond help, and helped them become leaders in this community. Heidi was a part of a ministry that Jesus referre ...more
Aug 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i originally gave this book four stars and wrote this:
insightful and poignant, this book is a wake-up call for the church to really consider what it means to be poor in spirit... and serve and love those who are so. nevertheless, the book really needs an editor to help the author's focus so that it doesn't take so long to read. there's just story after story but what is the central point or theme? i get it, but it would be great to have an editor help organize this book better.
but now i have to
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, theology
Such a great book! It gets off to a rocky start, sometimes hard to follow in terms of timing--it could use some more careful editing--but then it becomes so endearing, challenging, gripping, exciting. My mom says Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City helped her see gay people as actual, whole people, and I think this book helped me do that with some of the populations Neumark worked with (people who are addicted to drugs, who live in poverty, things like that). After reading this book, I feel muc ...more
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The things this congregation accomplished in the South Bronx and the struggles they faced made interesting reading. It was hard to keep the chronology straight because it moved around a lot, but what I will remember are the people and their stories, and how being part of Transfiguration changed their lives and the author's.
Jun 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Very inspiring book about 19 years at a church in the South Bronx. I met this author/pastor and she just embodies humility and grace. I also loved Jonathan Kozol's book about the South Bronx, Ordinary Resurrections. It makes you laugh and then cry. I really want to visit the South Bronx someday...
Aug 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Who knew there were Spanish speaking Lutherans. And how did this very Anglo woman fit into the Bronx? This is a very well written memoir about a woman who has faith and the ability to listen to people. That is a miracle. Raising her children in the south Bronx in a community of faith is an act of faith. It's an inspiring book (no, really)...
This was an assigned book for my Public Ministry 2 class. It read more like poetry than a novel. At times it felt too-close since this was the writings of a pastor in the South Bronx, after the September 11 attacks. But it's been a while since my heart was broken like it was in social-political philosophy class, while learning about systematic oppression and internalized self-hatred.
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite spiritual autobiography now. Beautiful and challenging! Great sermon illustrations for preachers.
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. If you haven't read it, buy it immediately, take an afternoon off work, and just read. It will make you want to write your own account of ministry. I LOVED it.
Apr 12, 2012 marked it as to-read
2011 Duke Divinity summer reading
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Personal journey of a special person, woven together with Biblical references, real people, politics, and prayers.
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Heidi B. Neumark is an author, speaker, and Lutheran pastor in New York City. She is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx, which won the 2004 Wilbur Award given by the Religion Communicators Council. She has chapters and sermons in numerous other books and writes regularly for The Christian Century and other journals. Pastor Neumark also ...more