Broadway CC Youth Mission Trip to Ohio

Early Sunday morning July 16th twenty-six Broadway high school students and adults loaded up in our newly acquired church bus and a rental van and headed the more than 650 miles to Steubenville, Ohio for our 2017 Youth Mission Trip. It wasn’t the easiest drive we’ve ever done, and yet God does amazing things when you say ‘send me.’

Our home for the week was the J.O.S.H.U.A. house where we joined a long history of other youth and adults who went to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of people in the Ohio Valley. The JOSHUA work mission program is a branch of the Urban Mission, a Methodist founded non-profit that provides food, shelter, and other essential services to their low-income population. 

We did this primarily through serving homeowners in the Ohio Valley. We were able to serve our homeowners by removing crumbling concrete stairs and replacing them with new treated wood ones, silvering the roof of a trailer home, working to replace old skirting and repainting, and contributing to finishing out several bedrooms and living spaces in a home in much need of some rejuvenation.

Our spirits were lifted and our hearts met others along the way that inspired us, taught us, and lead us to think differently about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. One homeowner was so grateful that while we sat and ate our sack lunches in her backyard, she started to provide the most delicious side dishes you’ve ever tasted: deviled eggs, potato salad, baked beans, fresh cucumbers, lemonade and iced tea. While none of it was expected or asked for, she showed us just what gratitude looked and tasted like!

Alongside homeowners and the amazing staff of the Urban Mission we had the opportunity to leave our mark on the city of Steubenville, just as it left its mark on us. If you would like to see a little more of the story, check out the local news coverage we got while we were serving.

Story and photo courtesy of Rev. Nick Larson,
Associate Minister at Broadway CC in Columbia.

When is Toilet Paper Sacred?

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Doniphan, Missouri and New Life Christian Church United are two small membership congregations in Southeast Missouri that have each discovered renewed vitality in mission. On any given Sunday average attendance at FCC is 25-30 persons and NLCUU varies from 20-25. FCC is an older congregation in both history and average age. NLCCU has been around since 1985 and the average age is significantly lower than that of its sisters and brothers in Doniphan. The two churches are in towns roughly a half an hour from each other and they share a pastor.

Neither church has the financial resources nor the number of people to engage in huge mission events as some of our larger churches are able to do. That does not stop the folks in these congregations from being active together and as individuals following the Way of Christ in this world. Combined, the 45-55 folks have a passion for feeding the hungry, and seeking and ministering to the disenfranchised. FCC supports the Lean on Me Food Pantry in Doniphan/Ripley County with monthly financial contribution, donations of food, volunteers to assist, and in making known the needs of the pantry to others. NLCCU partners with the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, members help out at the Northside Nutrition Center and that includes helping deliver Meals on Wheels. At the last fundraiser for Northside, folks from New Life generously donated over a third of all money raised! NLCCU also reaches out and helps find resources for the Families and Caretakers of those who suffer from mental illness and also provides meeting space to various organizations. Both congregations collect and deliver personal care and hygiene products to the women and children in the domestic violence residential shelters in their respective communities. In addition NLCCU makes sure each victim receives her own pillow when she arrives. Members of the Disciples Women’s Ministries group at FCC serve as life mentors for women in the shelter in Doniphan, teaching them, among other things, how to make better choices when food shopping and how to portion and store food more economically. And sometimes, they simply share a cup of coffee and listen to someone who hasn’t had an ear or shoulder before. NLCCU has collected items to give to resettled refugees and has partnered with the International Center in St. Louis to get those household items directly into the hands of those being resettled. Both congregations contributed generously to an appeal from Disciples Home Missions for assistance with Refugee Resettlement Ministries. NLCCU has also hosted two sets of Global Ministries partners who were “home” and visiting in the Region.

Yes, these two small, sometimes overlooked congregations “down in the sticks” do ministry that is local and also that reaches around the world. And both find Jesus and themselves smack0dab in the middle of the process.

So what does all of this have to do with toilet paper?  The staffs at Lean on Me and St. Vincent DePaul both tell us that people often ask if toilet paper is available. Most of us don’t have to think about making a choice whether or not to buy something as simple as toilet paper. Saving the price of a package of toilet paper frees up funds that are already stretched to the limit for the households served by the pantries. So both churches have begun taking toilet paper the pantries. Just as we pray for those who receive other services, we pray for those who will be receiving the toilet paper. One of our members, with a smile on his face, refers to it as “The Blessing of the Toilet Paper.”

In both churches folks gather on Sundays and some again mid-week. While together, we worship, pray, study, and provide nurture. Each week we figure out what we need to do and where we need to work and then we simply depart to try to BE God’s love.

And for us-----well----that is mission.

Story and photo courtesy of Rev. John Harwell
who pastors both of these congregations.

A Little Thing That Means A Lot

As another day dawns for children in the foster care system to transfer to another location, their belongings get packed hurriedly. Precious photos, some clothes, maybe a toy or two – all shoved in the same bag the neighbors stuff their garbage in. Yes, it is a sad reality. The children get to carry all they have left in a trash bag. Not a backpack or a duffle bag. A trash bag.

Pretty soon, the children feel like trash themselves. Wouldn’t you?

But God loves these young ones, no matter what stage of life they’re in. And First Christian Church in Gallatin values whom God values. In an effort to show Jesus’ love to the kiddos, the church family gathered new or gently-used duffle bags for two weeks during the National Foster Care Month (May).

The results were overwhelming. Duffle bags kept coming in to the church office. After the two-week drive, there was hardly any space in the SUV as Dr. Julia Filley, Esq., together with Pastor Corey and Ivonne, delivered the bags to the Children’s Division.

It was a short “Duffle Bag Drive,” but it’s only the beginning. No child should feel like trash. Jesus values the next generation greatly. And so should we.

Story and photo courtesy of Corey and Ivonne Norman.

Riding with the Spirit

Mayor Pro Tem Randy Bland, deCycles Director Dr. Norm Houze, and Rev. Jack Daniel (Holding up the pastor’s bike that isn’t proper for cross country riding…but made it through town.)

Mayor Pro Tem Randy Bland, deCycles Director Dr. Norm Houze, and Rev. Jack Daniel (Holding up the pastor’s bike that isn’t proper for cross country riding…but made it through town.)

On July 11th, approximately 45 deCycles youth pedaled their way into El Dorado Springs and spent the night at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as a part of their “Riding with the Spirit” 2,000 mile cross country bicycle journey through America. Mayor Pro Tem, Randy Bland along with Rev. Jack Daniel and two First Christian youth, Cody LeAn and David Nations, met the group at the edge of town and led them down Main Street to their overnight destination at the church. First Christian Church provided accommodations for the group and served an evening meal and breakfast before the bicyclists continued on their journey across America. Organizers Dr. Norm Houze and his wife, Cricket, are members of a Disciples of Christ congregation in Indiana. The term “deCycles” is a spin-off from the word “disciples.”

Not exactly appropriate bikes for cross country, but made the journey across town. First Christian Church (DOC) Rev. Jack Daniel, Cody LeAn, and David Nations, Jr.

Not exactly appropriate bikes for cross country, but made the journey across town. First Christian Church (DOC) Rev. Jack Daniel, Cody LeAn, and David Nations, Jr.

The deCycles is a nonprofit ecumenical youth leadership program offering high spirited summer bicycle trips for teenagers and young adults. The deCycles bicycle trips are designed for participants to learn more about themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually.

The 2017 deCycles participants, ranging in age from a set of 12 year old twins through age 19 are living examples of how the Holy Spirit moves in individuals’ lives to accomplish what most would think is impossible – 2,000 miles on a bicycle! But, the impossible happened every day and every mile of the way on their 3 ½ week journey from Los Angeles to Bloomington, Indiana.

“Leaders of the Pack arriving in El Do”

“Leaders of the Pack arriving in El Do”

Members of the group shared their stories in an evening program provided to the entire community. The deCycles principles of kindness, commitment, faith, and happiness are the foundation for the strength that each rider must possess to get down the road. Started in 1969, this interfaith teen bicycling group pushes everyone out of their comfort zone and challenges riders to look inside for the “power” to make it down the road. The teens ride in groups of 6 and never leave their slowest member behind. The group averages over 100 miles per day with one record breaking day of 243 miles. Together, with the love of our Lord and Creator, deCycles teens are empowered to move through the many adversities of riding down the road and riding down the road of life. We should all be inspired to take time for others as we all journey on the path of life together! For more information about deCycles, visit

Thanks to Jack Daniel and Barbara Walsh for the story and photos.

Let's Do Lunch

The free lunch program at Second Christian Church in Jefferson City has become a summertime staple for many area children. The program began when Malissa Smith became the congregation’s Outreach Committee chair. She knew that she wanted to introduce people to the church and help the community, and this effort is definitely doing both!

The church’s local community is made up of many mid to lower income families who may sometimes have difficulty making ends meet. During summer vacation, neighborhood children are without not only a school-provided lunch, but the weekly ‘buddy packs’ of supplemental food they might also receive when school is in session. So Melissa and the committee decided to step out on faith and feed the hungry children.

It started slowly at first but has grown in popularity, reaching a to-date record of feeding 117 children in the single hour of that day’s service.

Of course, such a program needs lots of support, and the Outreach Committee has it! Many volunteers lend their time and talent to preparing and distributing the lunches each day. And then there’s the matter of funding it… The impact of this wonderful program on the church’s operating budget has been exactly ZERO dollars. It is fully funded by community members and local businesses who make both financial and food donations, even providing for a few extra-special events like pizza day and cookout day throughout the summer. The church has also added a couple of fundraisers, including a raffle, to their annual activities to supplement the program.

What it takes on the congregation’s part is the space, the volunteers, the organization of the donors, and the desire to make a difference. If you’d like more information about this program, see their recent coverage in the Jefferson City News Tribune. Malissa is also happy to share and encourage other congregations with similar efforts. She can be reached at the church (573) 635-8349. Second Christian Church's pastor is Vernell Weston and co-pastor is Penny Weston. They celebrated their second anniversary leading the church just yesterday. Congratulations!

FCC Edwardsville Youth Care for Creation

As Christians, we are called to live out our faith and care for all of God's creation.  The youth at First Christian Church of Edwardsville, IL recently demonstrated God's call by serving in a variety of ways during Faith Community Day at our local Watershed Nature Center.  The leadership team and volunteers at the Watershed are dedicated to providing environmental education, passive recreation, and enjoyment of native habitats for Edwardsville and surrounding communities. 


Faith Community Day was an ecumenical service project where youth and adults from several area churches gave up much of their Saturday to beautify, restore, and preserve the Watershed's native prairie, forest, and wetland habitats.  Not only did we enjoy the fellowship but we also worked hard and completed the following projects together:

  • Planted numerous trees
  • Planted milkweed
  • Cleaned debris from around the storage shed
  • Painted the storage shed
  • Hauled and spread mulch 

This project was a rich and rewarding experience which served as a reminder that beauty is not only found in each of one of us but also in all the living creatures that God created.

Story and photos courtesy of FCC Associate Minister Rev. Jeff Wrigley.

FCC Provides Summer Camp for Youth in St. Joseph


This June First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)  in St. Joseph, Missouri celebrates a 25-year partnership with the organization Royal Family Kids, a national faith-based outreach to children who have experienced abuse and neglect. As part of this program, each summer First Christian organizes and hosts a week-long camp for 20-30 local at-risk children. The focus of the camp is simply to provide the children a week away from the chaos and fears of their daily lives and to share the good news that "God loves you unconditionally and completely!" The event is free for the kids and funds are raised through the church budget, donations, and the support of the local community and beyond. 

At camp, the children are guided throughout the week by their adult "big camper" with the ratio of one adult to every two children. This big camper is responsible for the care of those two children the entire week as they swim, sing, fish, boat, create crafts, play, and learn about God's love. Each evening includes activities such as musical performances by local groups, a carnival, campfires and a hayride. A highlight of the week is the camp-wide birthday party (many of these children come from home situations where they've never had their own party) where each child receives special gifts including a bible, toys, sports equipment and an mp3 player loaded with all the camp songs to take home with them. In addition, the local Rotary Club presents each child with a new pair of shoes (again, a luxury many of these children have never experienced). 

At the end of the week, the children go back to foster care, shelters, or to their families, often to difficult home situations. But the hope is that they also carry with them the understanding that, despite life's challenges, God is with them and loves them. Though First Christian sponsors this camp and much of the church membership is involved in one way or another, the event also relies on the help and support of dozens of other persons from the wider community, working together to bring some light into the darkness of children who have experienced abuse.


If your church is interested in starting a Royal Family Kids Camp in your community, you are encouraged to contact Rev. Brian Kirk at First Christian to hear more of their 25-year journey or visit the Royal Family Kids official website. (


Brian Kirk, Lead Pastor
First Christian Church
927 Faraon
St. Joseph, MO 64501

Story and photos by Rev. Brian Kirk.

The Impact of Partnership

Several years ago Marshfield Christian Church developed a new mission and vision for their community of faith. Through much prayer and discussion the congregation felt called to honor their history and imagine a future where they could feed themselves and others in the community physically AND spiritually. However, they didn’t know what that would look like. Then an opportunity presented itself to partner with Ozarks Food Harvest to distribute USDA food commodities to citizens in Webster county struggling with food insecurity.

Now in its third year, our Bread of Life ministry regularly provides food to approximately 250 families in Webster county. By applying for matching grants, partnering with the local alternative school, and tapping into the congregation and community, MCC is able to receive, package, and distribute thousands of pounds of food each month, all within the course of about 7 hours. This all-volunteer effort has breathed new life and a spirit of service and innovation into the congregation. And, has proved that listening for God’s will and direction can take you to unexpected and life-giving places.

Story and photos courtesy of pastor Alex Ruth.

Older Adult Ministry Program Continues

Earlier this year, the Mid-America Region arranged to bring important information about older adult ministries to congregations across the state. Made financially possible through the Rickman Legacy Fund, we partnered with gerontology consultant Jan Aerie for a series of seminars on older adult ministries. They focus on equipping the church to better meet the pastoral, emotional, health, fellowship and recreational needs of older adults in their communities of faith.

Several churches responded to the invitation to host such a seminar, and another in the series has recently taken place at Lake Ozark Christian Church. What follows is Jan's report of the activity of the day.


The program began, after introductions and a welcome, with an overview of some of the realities and myths about aging. The use of a ten question “quiz” enabled group participation. The participants numbered 28 from various cluster churches.

The bulk of the morning was spent discussing care-giving and -receiving. The challenges and issues of the mission and ministry of caregiving were highlighted. Concerns about change, loss and grief and about how to ask for and receive help as a caregiver/receiver were chosen as focus points. Several activities, including small group sharing, underscored the importance of processing our emotions. Choosing a priority of focus, balance and flexibility in our mission and ministry as care-ers was exemplified by an activity with feathers.

Bible verses and a few biblical stories highlighted points about stopping to listen, care and about the importance of the ability to accept help. Prayer, rituals and support groups were tools for self-care that were emphasized.

Following a lunch break the group reconvened to discuss ways congregations can learn from and view ministry with and for older adults. Inter-generational and age specific programs and activities were mentioned. Small groups were again formed and each began by listing assets of their church that are helpful for older adults. The small groups then prioritized their lists by their views of the importance of the assets. The next step in the working process was to develop responses to three ministry model questions by expanding their priorities into more specific program ideas.

The entire group came back together to share their findings and hopes. An exercise demonstrating how we cannot stand alone, but must work together wrapped up the session. The participants were invited to share reflections and questions before the day was concluded with a summary and prayer.

The purpose and goals for the day were to raise awareness about individual aging, and to touch upon ways our thinking and stereotypes impact our outlook and longevity. A second goal was to serve the interests and needs of those present by listening to their cares and concerns. Many were caregivers yet many care-receivers were also present. The topic of caregiving issues and needs was a program priority. A third purpose and goal was to explore and discover ways congregations can address the needs and unique gifts of older adults in church programming.

The group seemed to be receptive, well engaged and involved throughout the day. There was enthusiastic discussion and honest sharing. Participation by the cluster church’s clergy throughout the day, as well as their helpful work in planning for the day, added a value and importance to the topic.

This cluster called for and chose a longer program timeframe of four hours instead of two hours. This was highly beneficial in addressing the topic in greater depth, and easing the feeling of needing to lightly touch on many important points. Though a lunch was then necessary to include, (and so the program time is actually closer to 3 1/4 hours), it is a recommended model for future older adult ministry programs.

For more information about this program, please review our coverage of the first session and/or contact Regional Minister Team member Paul Koch.

Affton Christian Church: INASMUCHAS

For the past few years, the congregation of Affton Christian Church has adopted and adapted a one-word mission statement: “INASMUCHAS.”  Taken from Matthew 25:40 (The Message), “INASMUCHAS” has challenged us to look out for those who are often overlooked and ignored. We have allowed this word to serve as our “polar star” when it comes to being the hands and feet of Christ in our community. 

Fisher House 2.jpg

On the last Wednesday of the month, several people prepare and share a meal with the residents of the Fisher House, a place of lodging for veterans and their families who have traveled to St. Louis for an operation they cannot receive at home. Think Ronald McDonald House but for the VA. Often, families travel hundreds of miles and do not know how long they will need to be in St. Louis. Not knowing anything about the area – streets, directions, services; families often feel lost and alone. Deidra, ACC’s coordinator of this ministry, shares the following story:

At the Fisher House dinner last April, we were serving the guests, when a woman in her late 60s walked into the kitchen looking very sad and exhausted.  She looked at the spread of food on the large kitchen island and then looked up at us with a strange look on her face.  One person from Affton went over to her and asked if she would like something to eat; another, asked what she would like to drink.  She just continued to look at us with a look of disbelief on her face, and then she leaned on the island with her head down.  When she finally looked up at us, there were tears in her eyes.  She explained that she had been at the hospital since early morning, before the sun had come up.  Her husband had surgery that day, and it did not go as well as expected.  She did not have a chance to even eat lunch.  Traveling home from the hospital she decided it was the worst day of her life.  She went on to say, that she was wrong about that now.  When she walked in and saw she had a hot dinner waiting for her, and people with smiles on their faces to eat with her, something good had happened to her that day.  It was not the worst day of her life, and she was sure that tomorrow would be better.

Another way we practice “INASMUCHAS” is through our Thursday Night Food Trucks during the summer. Once a month, we invite 3 or 4 food trucks to set up shop in our parking lot. We pitch a tent and provide tables and chairs and invite the community for dinner. This isn’t a fundraiser, as we receive nothing from this event – other than the pleasure of meeting our neighbors and sharing a meal with them.

People often ask how much we make or why we are doing this. It is rewarding to be able to tell them we do this just so we can get to know our neighbors. They see our sign in the yard that reads, “All Are Welcome Here,” and surprised we are not trying to entice them to join our church, they often go on to ask questions. And this gives us an opportunity to have real, meaningful conversations with our neighbors.

Sharing meals, conversations, and experiences – this is how the congregation of Affton Christian Church lives into God’s mission of “INASMUCHAS.” 

Story and photos courtesy of ACC pastor Rev. David Woodard.

FCC of Burlington Junction Serves the Lord Inside and Outside the Walls!

This small congregation in Northwest Missouri has been reaching out beyond the walls of their church building for quite some time. This movement has had a great impact on the community.

Several years ago the congregation began designating a couple Sunday’s a year to cleaning up the community. They have adopted a portion of US Highway 136, which runs right through the middle of town, to keep the trash picked up in the community. In addition they plant flowers in planter boxes on Main Street, and clean up the park. A group also remains at the church to assist visitors in knowing what is being done and pack different types of gift bags of hygiene products to be donated to various groups from nursing homes, community food pantries, to local high school students. 

Although I am not quite sure how this particular act of service got started, I imagine that a congregation member stood up in church and said something like, “Hey, I have an idea!” That’s the way this group of amazing people operate. In the almost three years I have been serving this church I have seen this happen several times.

  • “Hey, let’s serve Thanksgiving Dinner to anyone who has no place to go. ON THANKSGIVING DAY!
  • Hey, let’s adopt the school and start a homework club and mentoring program!
  • Hey, let’s start a youth group for grade 3 and up!
  • Hey, let’s open up a food pantry! “

All these things have been answered with a rousing sure let’s do it! And they have done them all!

Here are some photos of just a few of the outreach projects being done!

We are blessed over and over again by the outreach we provide. The joy of watching the congregation serve, the look of gratitude on the faces of the community members we serve, increased attendance in church, but mostly the joy of serving our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are alive through Him and for Him; for it is in Christ that we live and move and breathe and have our very existence.

Story and photos by Pastor Terry Robison.
Visit them on Facebook.
Watch the video of their history, prepared for their 125th anniversary.

Toy Benefit Sale at FCC Butler

Last winter, a gentleman came into my office and introduced himself as Sam McCombs.  He told me about his ministry of making wooden toys. 

He told me about years of taking his wooden toys to toy sales where he held fund raisers for Veterans in various parts of the US. He told me several stories of how he would give toys to children of soldiers who were overseas. 

You see he too is a veteran. He knows how it is for the families of soldiers serving their country and the special needs they often incur. The proceeds of those toy sales often went to help those families.

But Sam and his wonderful wife and helper are now getting up in age. He can no longer travel like he did. His inventory of toys grows as he still likes to make them in his shop.

Problem is, he ran out of room to store them. 

He knew that the church needed funds and wondered if the congregation would take his toys and sell them. He also said the church could keep all the proceeds. 

The church now has a large inventory of wooden toys. There are doll sized high chairs, cribs and table and chair sets. There are wooden trains; there are airplanes and trucks; there are wooden tool chests complete with toy tools; there are rocking horses and even toddler sized tables and chairs.

There's been one sale already, with many pieces being purchased. The toys will also be available for sale at the local Huckster Days celebration on September 15th & 16th on the County Court House lawns. In the meantime, if anyone comes by the church during office hours (8:00 to 5:00) Monday through Thursday, someone will be glad to help you find an item.

Story and photos courtesy of FCC Butler
Pastor Lem Whitmer.

Disciples Men's Retreat Shines After Wet Week

Fifty Disciples Men from as far away as St. Joseph, Kansas City, Holliday, Centralia, and Boonville made it to the deep, luscious Ozarks of Shannon County for a wonderful, spiritual weekend, May 5-7, 2017.  The sun shone brightly and the fresh spring air made retreat activities refreshing.  Much devastation was discovered in places like Eminence, which is just a part of the flooded area that our offerings to Week of Compassion help.  Men at the retreat did their part in completing service projects to help Shannondale Mission continue its service to families in the community. 

Word had spread on how great the retreat is and a number of men in their 20's came this year.  Real Talk, a mission to African American youth in University City also spread the word about their positive experience being invited for the third straight year. The number of those who asked and could come with them doubled as well.  Though much of the Ozarks National Scenic Riverways was closed due to flooding, the Ozark Trail was open for a nice adventurous hike and the gorgeous new Echo Bluff State Park, just down the road from Shannondale, provided very comfortable respite as well.  We hope many more Disciples Men will make it a priority to attend next year's gathering.

Men from the Disciples Men Retreat reconvened on Tuesday, May 9 to help with flood cleanup at Rockhaven Ecozoic Center in House Springs, MO, a nonprofit retreat center. Water from the Big River entered Turtle Lodge at a depth of more than a yard, ruining everything on the lower level, though everything that could be raised had been raised off the floor.

Thanks to Rev. Dr. Paul Koch for this story and photos.

Mission Sunday at Community Christian Church

On Sunday, April 23, Community Christian Church held our second Mission Day. After a short worship service we headed out on a beautiful day to work on a variety of projects that we hoped would impact and be a blessing to the community surrounding our church. One group worked on outdoor beautification work for the City of Manchester Parks Department. One group prepared and served breakfast for families staying at the Ronald McDonald house. Another group did a variety of work at Exceptional Equestrians, a non for profit agency providing equine assisted therapy for people with physical and developmental disabilities.

We had intergenerational projects going at church, including making over 100 snack bags for a local school, for children that may not be able to provide their own. With the help of some adult leaders, children made seed packets in honor of Earth Day and plates of ‘kindness cookies’ that they delivered to nearby neighborhoods and home bound members of the congregation.  We are also partnering with Shoes and Hope to be a collection site for used shoes and we kicked that off as well, collecting many shoes for this local organization.  When our work was done we celebrated by sharing a meal together in our Family Life Center where we shared stories and pictures from the day. Everyone declared the day a success and we will look forward to another opportunity to serve God and our community in the fall!

Story and photos courtesy of Tracey Hammack,
Mission First team member Community Christian Church

Our Disciples Care Team

The Disciples Care Team met for its semi-annual gathering at Lake Ozark Christian Church on April 22. The Regional Ministry Team met with the Care Team and discussed ways to better communicate the Region's many ministries with local congregations. The Care Team, chaired by Murrell Arnett of Macon, is made up of retired pastors and lay folk. Team members are dedicated to visit congregations in the Region to bring greetings and share important events in the life of the church in the Region. In addition, Care Team members are available to take part in congregational anniversary celebrations, give support to pastors and church leaders, and pray for and with the congregations. Some of the team members are also available for pulpit supply.

It is the hope of the Care Team, Regional Minister Team, and the Regional Board that eventually every congregation will have a Care Team member with whom to relate and to pray for the congregation. Team members are appointed through the Executive Committee for a term of three years. Most also participate in Boundary Training and Pro-Reconciliation/Anti-Racism Training. The semi-annual gatherings are a way for the team to support one another, find ways to improve team ministry, and to have a time to learn about pastoral care, confidentiality, and ministry of care. The Regional Minister Team encourages pastors to identify persons in their congregation who may have gifts to serve on the Disciples Care Team. Dr. Larry Colvin is the Regional Minster Team member who works with the Disciples Care Team.

The photo shows the Regional Minister team with the Disciples Care Team. Front row l-r: Diane Hall, Laura Kercher, Dan Kercher, Cindy Wiltshire, Clela Anderson. Second Row l-r: Sara Compton, Penny Ross-Corona, Lina Eddy, Murrell Arnett, Paul Koch, Larry Colvin, Tom Hamm.  Not pictured: Mike and Diane Bockhorst, Vic Davis, John Fisher, Ken and Sue Jameson, Ray and Wendy Miles, George Morey, and Mike Weinman. Photo by Mike Weiman.

Story courtesy of Rev. Dr. Larry Colvin.

Rickman Legacy Fund Providing Leader Development in Older Adult Ministries

The Christian Church of Mid-America has contracted with gerontology consultant Jan Aerie for a series of seminars focusing on older adult ministries. This is made possible through the Rickman Legacy Fund which supports, in addition to Outdoor Ministries, Leader Development.

In this series, seminar topic suggestions will be determined by the needs of the host congregation but will focus on equipping the church to better meet the pastoral, emotional, health, fellowship and recreational needs of older adults in their communities of faith.  Possible directions may include:

Biblical Perspectives on Aging:
Growing into the fullness of age                             Stages of growing maturity
Growing in the fullness of God                                Attitudes about growing old
Sharing wisdom and exuberance                            Mental well-being and satisfaction

Expanding Older Adult Ministries:
Enabling caring congregations                                Building authentic community
Blending the generations                                         Serving - harvesting the potential
Letting go of the one-size-fits-all ministry               Spiritual growth in old age

The first session of the series was held last month in Sedalia. 
Read Consultant Jan Aerie's reflections here.
Read host pastor Chad McMullin's reflections here.
Upcoming Older Adult Ministry events will be held in Dexter on April 23, in Lake of the Ozarks on May 20, and in Gower on a yet to be determined date. Contact Regional Minister Paul Koch for more information or to schedule an event in your congregation.

Mission First! Report and Next Steps

After two years of focusing on Mission First as a ministry priority, a draft statement of our continuing trajectory has been identified:

God calls us to work with and for children, youth and young adults so together we may share and receive the good news of Jesus Christ by creating communities of healing, learning and transformation.

Read the most recent Mission First report and plan for the future here.


send us stories of mission work from your congregation!

Projects big and small, local and international, one-time events and long-term partnerships - we want to hear it all! We'd love to share your story and experience. Work. Share. Inspire.

Email information/photos to or use our Contact page. See what other congregations have shared here.

Growing Young in Granville

In many congregations, members will say, “Young adults and children are the future of our church.” What they often mean is “our doors will close if they don’t show up--and soon!”

But I believe the keep-the-doors-open motive for wanting under-50 people in the pews is usually in the interest of preserving an institution, a building, or personal memories, rather than the gospel.

Surely there is a higher, more powerful motive for wanting the next generation.  I believe it is the same motive that fueled the growth of the early church: We have experienced joy, strength, fulfillment, peace, forgiveness and love in our life of faith in Jesus Christ. We love you so much, we want you to have it, too.

GranvilleChurch 003.JPG

I am in my twelfth year of part-time ministry at Granville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We are truly a rural congregation, ten miles northwest of Paris, MO, in a county with a population of about 9000. The average attendance is 40.

I am blessed to serve there. The members are kind, loving people, eager to help others. They are also unusually open to change if they feel it will reach more people.

At our last two quarterly church board meetings, I shared my desire to reach out to the Gen-X and Millennial generations, (born 1965 through the present). In January, we studied some materials from the book Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church by Powell, Mulder and Griffin. The authors were part of an extensive Fuller Youth Institute study of congregations that were attracting young people.  We will be discussing more of the book at our April meeting.

The Growing Young key ideas are: empathizing with young people, focusing on Jesus, fueling warm community, prioritizing young people, binge good neighbors, and sharing leadership. The authors make the point that churches of all sizes, denominations, theologies and locations have begun attracting young adults. 

There are a number of young adults connected to our church, most of them attending regularly, but not weekly. I met with several of them individually in their homes last fall. In February, the church hosted a free pizza lunch (facilitated by an 80-year-old supporter!) and a meeting to brainstorm and dream.  

Thirteen young adults attended, with child care provided. They generated ideas and met again in March, when they began plans for mission projects and get-togethers. They are discussing the possibility of a young adult Sunday School class beginning in the fall. 

I’m praying that our church can provide friendship, love and a focus on Jesus; and that we can paint a vision of possibilities that will further inspire them to follow Jesus together, love each other, and lead as the Holy Spirit calls them. We’ve only just begun. Prayers appreciated!

Suggested Resources:

  • Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder and Brad Griffin; Baker Books, 2016.
  • Lasting Impact: Seven Powerful Conversations that will Help Your Church Grow by Carey Nieuwhof; The reThink Group, Inc., 2015.
  • The Jesus-Centered Life: The Life You Didn’t Think was Possible with the Jesus You Never Knew, by Rick Lawrence; Group Publishing, 2016.

by Fran Schnarre, pastor, Granville Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ), Paris, MO

New Hope Community Christian Church is Almost Six Months Old!

This has truly been an exciting time for the faith community at New Hope Community Christian Church. I am so honored and privileged to be the pastor of a wonderful and growing community.  On the first Worship Service, Sunday October 9, 2016 five courageous souls committed to joining NHCCC and join me with planting a new faith community in St. Louis North County. Since that day three more have joined in the building of God’s Kingdom on earth to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus the Christ. This number reflects only a glimpse of the support that NHCCC has and does not show the true picture. Although eight have joined and gave a public confession of faith we are blessed with eight more individuals who are consistent in attendance for worship and participate in the life of the church. I have also had the privilege of baptizing two and performing a Baby Ceremony.

Although we are few in number the hearts are big and open to grow in spirit and service. I prayed that I would lead and serve with a diverse faith community and NHCCC is already showing early signs as a diverse body in terms of age.  

We have been blessed by so many but I want to acknowledge several congregations in the Christian Church for all of their love and support. Florissant Valley Christian Church has provided us space for all of our Christian Education meetings such as weekly Bible Study; congregational meetings; membership, leadership, baptism classes…etc. Centennial Christian Church provided the space for the Baptism Ceremony, and we were gifted with many items from Liberation Christian Church when they dissolved.  

The vision of NHCCC is “Heart to God, Hand to Serve, Hope to Transform” and we have already began our efforts to minister and serve with the least, last, lost, and left behind through God’s mission for the world. Please see below community and mission projects that we initiated or participated in. I also included opportunities I have been privileged to serve as a Minister of the Gospel.

  • Donated items/gifts to the Annie Malone Children’s Home Christmas Drive
  • Officiated my 1st Wedding
  • Participated in the 1st Annual Black History Program for the community of Bellefontaine Neighbors
  • Hosted a Christian Faith based Organization from Chicago – By the Hand Club for Kids (10 high school young men and 3 adults)
  • Held a Black History Celebration Youth Worship Service – the entire Worship Service was carried out by the children/youth with 53 in attendance
  • Assembled and carried 90 care packages and lunches for our neighbors without homes in the downtown area
  • Invited to offer the closing prayer/benediction for the Women Day Celebration at Saint John’s UCC
  • Invited to preach at Holy City Ministries

 Upcoming April events include:

  • Community Connection – every Saturday in April we will greet & meet our neighbors and businesses in the community
  • Invited to provide a 30 minute Bible Lesson on the Radio Show Inspired Overflow KSTL AM 690
  • Baptism Ceremony (1 candidate)
  • African American Convocation

In closing, I give thanks to God for all of the love, support, and prayers that NHCCC continues to receive from The Christian Church (DOC) and the many faith communities and individuals. I pray that over time we emerge as a strong partner & pillar in the community we have been called to serve, develop ministries which will offer more opportunities to assist and serve the needs of the community, and  continue to grow spiritually, numerically, and financially.

Peace & Blessings,
Pastor Rhonda R. Aldridge
[from her recent report to the CCMA board]

Global Ministries Missionary to Visit Mid-America

We are very excited to announce that Global Ministries missionary to Korea Kahala Cannon will be visiting Mid-America in May!

Kahala is a language learning facilitator at two different partner organizations. She works with children of migrant workers and teens affected by family violence, poverty, and family breakdown. Her efforts help bring to these youth increased social, educational, and eventual employment opportunities.

Kahala will be available throughout the Region to share about her work and experiences. She is eager to bring a little piece of her Korean experience to us and help us more fully understand how very connected we all are.

Please contact one of her schedule coordinators to arrange for Kahala to visit your congregation. She is happy to speak during worship, during Sunday School time, at Disciples Women/Men meetings, at other congregational gatherings or community functions, you name it! Here's where she'll be each week:

Her speaking engagements will be posted on our Upcoming Events page as her schedule is completed. If she doesn't make it to your congregation, come hear her in a nearby church!

Kahala's biographical information   ***   Learn more about her work
Preparing for a successful visit   ***   Information on hosting a missionary