Hope Hutch: Take What You Need - Give What You Can

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First Christian Church of Mt. Vernon has partnered with the Hope Hutch to help those in their community that need a little hand up. Started as a community effort this past May, the Hope Hutch is stocked with donated hygiene products and non-perishable food items. It is located on a corner of the church parking lot and is available to all.

Members of the congregation have embraced the project and decided to designate love offerings received in July to the effort. They collected and contributed over $2,100, as well as some of the items needed to stock the hutch.

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Pictured are organizers Dennis Rodgers, Brandy Jameson, and Holly Gaddy who made a presentation at the church inviting the congregation to participate in this simple, but so effective way to make a difference.

Thank you to FCC’s Sherry Curtis for
this information and photos.

Christian Discipleship in Ghana

Regional Minister Penny Ross-Corona recently participated in a Global Ministries pilgrimage to Ghana and South Africa. She was one of six Regional Ministers and two GM staff members to visit some of our ecumenical mission partners in these two countries. 

One such partner was the Christian Council of Ghana, which has established a wonderful ministry in a fishing village on the Atlantic coast outside the capital city of Accra.

In this village, fishing is the only way of producing food and income, and the culture is such that only men can fish.  If there is no man in the household (or if he is sick or disabled), there is no income to provide for the simplest survival needs of the women and children. 

So Global Ministries and the Christian Council of Ghana worked to economically empower these women and assisted them in starting up their own business. The women now have a system in place for buying fresh fish from the fishermen and then preserving the fish (through a drying and smoking process) in order to sell them at market for a small profit. 

The fish are dried on huge racks on the ground. Then a wood burning oven is used to smoke the fish. The women tend the fire on the ground under the oven, while the fish are smoked in racks on top. Then the preserved fish are packaged and sold. Profits are small during the fishing season, but much greater when the season is over.

The group asked the women (through an interpreter) what it is that makes them want to get up in the mornings. The reply was, “I want to get out of bed, because I now have my own business…I can now support myself and my children.”   

Thank you to Rev. Dr. Penny Ross-Corona for sharing this story of our connectedness through Global Ministries. Please remember in prayer former Transitional Regional Minister Larry Colvin and his wife Debbie, who will be starting their work in Ghana in just a few weeks.

Perry Christian Church Youth Stock Food Pantry

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On Sunday July 28th, a four part series centered on John 6:35 was begun at Perry Christian Church. The Young Disciples, during their message, were challenged to remember how many people in their own community lacked basic needs such as bread. Pastor Nancy gave each a paper bag with instructions to decorate as they saw fit and then solicit the congregation and their friends and neighbors for food items for the Perry Food Pantry, housed at First Baptist Church in Perry. On the 26th of August, the bags were delivered to the Food Pantry by the Young Disciples before their Sunday school classes. They were given a tour of the pantry and thanked for their gift of giving that would benefit many people in their community. After the Sunday morning service, everyone was invited to a pizza party in the church basement to celebrate the wonderful outreach of our young people. As you can see, much more food was collected than could fit into their artfully decorated bags! Thanks to these young servants of God! 

Thanks to Pastor Nancy Kellstrom for this story.

Back to School Party at Centennial CC

Centennial Christian Church in St. Louis recently held their 13th annual Back to School Party and it was quite an extravaganza! Completely free and open to the whole community, this event sends children back to school with supplies, medical care, and loving support from the congregation. Jennifer Randle is Centennial's Communications and Technology Ministry Chairperson, and shares this account of the day's activity.

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Our Outreach Ministry chairperson, Clint Potts and event chair, Jacqueline Dyer have worked tirelessly every year to make this a premiere event at Centennial Christian Church. They began months ago by soliciting donations from community partners and businesses and, while our members donate school supplies to put in the backpacks, we also accept donations for the bikes, gift cards and monetary gifts from community businesses. This is our 13th year providing backpacks and bicycles for children in our community as well as access to community vendors. Those vendors include Faith Communities United that provide HIV/AIDS testing, CHIPS which provides student physicals, Saint Louis Public Schools, St. Louis Public Library, Urban League Head Start, Sickle Cell Anemia Association and many more.  

Additionally, 131 book bags were given away, 11 HIV/AIDS tests were performed, and 19 children received physicals.  

Entertainment included music, horse and pony rides, games, magician, free snow cones and food. Additional giveaways included gift cards and six bicycles. 

 

FCC in Burlington Junction Provides School Supplies

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On Sunday, August 12 First Christian Church of Burlington Junction blessed the school supplies that they had collected for the West Nodaway Elementary School. For the third year in a row, one of their mission outreach projects has been to supply the school with all the crayons, colored pencils, and pencils they will need for the year.

Members are shown here reading scripture and praying over the 200 boxes of crayons, 65 boxes of colored pencils, and 2,700 pencils which will benefit about 150 students this year.

Thanks to pastor Terry Robison for this information and photos.

 

Ozark Christian Church 2018 Mission Trip

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What do you get when you combine a mission trip with a local destination, and throw in 32 Ozark Christian Church members physically participating at sometime over a three day period? A very successful and rewarding experience that crossed off every item on the lengthy “to do” list, and saw over 50% participation from the residents at the location. That is exactly what occurred when OCC members traveled the short distance to Freedom’s Rest Family Violence Center in Ozark, July 19-21.

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Each morning started with the group gathering at the church for a hearty breakfast prepared by the mission trip food crew, then journeying ten minutes up the road to begin the work day.  Work consisted of skilled construction labor, yard work, painting (inside and outside), cleaning, assembling furniture, hauling away trash, as well as many other tasks. The first two days were challenging due to the tremendous heat indexes, but everyone took breaks when needed, worked in the shade or indoors when available and focused on the reason for being there.  Lunch breaks back at the church were a good way to recharge for the afternoon (especially when the food crew brought out ice cream, fudgesicles, and popsicles).

The OCC team held an afternoon kid’s camp and separate women’s activities for the residents of Freedom’s Rest. The kids enjoyed three days of lessons, crafts, activities, snacks and of course, games, involving every imaginable form of water, because everyone wanted to get wet due to the heat. In the meantime, the ladies were bonding through testimonies, discussions, crafts, baking lessons and journaling lessons, in the cool air conditioning of the facility’s kitchen. Mission trip team participants outnumbered resident participants, so several team members continued with the physical labor in the afternoon, as well. All work was completed in time to gather back at the church for a delicious evening meal, as well as a devotion and discussion time.

The team hosted an onsite BBQ for the residents and staff on Saturday, as a special “thank you” for allowing the mission trip participants to be there for three straight days. After saying their goodbyes at the end of the day, the OCC team left with a sense of accomplishment from not only the completion of the items, but from relationships built, memories made and hearts touched. The first time participants, as well as the veteran mission trippers, also learned that being the hands and feet of Christ is extremely rewarding, no matter where the mission trip takes place.

Thanks to Marna Strahl for this story and photos.
In memory of Amy Johnson, Mission Trip 2018 Destination:Ozark participant.

Broadway Youth Find Themselves in Chicago

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This July Broadway Christian Church's rising 8th graders through High School seniors traveled to Chicago for our annual youth mission trip. We worked with a partner organization called Center for Student Missions.  Through this trip we got to know the section of the city on the north west side of the city. We stayed in Albany Park, which I learned, is one of the most diverse zip codes in the United States. We got to see and serve in places like Humboldt Park (the only Puerto Rican neighborhood in the continental united states), Ravenswood, Uptown, and Lawndale just to name a few of the neighborhoods.

We got to know the area and its history, we looked at the way these neighborhoods had grown and changed over the last 40-50 years. We saw the effects of gentrification, neighborhood improvements, and poverty stricken areas, we learned about gang culture in these neighborhoods and those yellow safe passage signs which kids have to get walked to and from school just so they can do it without being harassed.

We spent time bonding with kids growing up in the midst of all of this in Lawndale at a YMCA and the Albany Park Community Center. I sat and listened to a 4th grader tell me about how his sister was murdered 6 months before, as his voice trailed off and the ache hung in the air. We served dinner in Ravenswood at All Saints church (ravenswoodcommunityservices.org) where they do it family style with honestly some of the best food I’ve ever eaten prepared at a church. We served dinner in a formerly condemned building where they do 3 meals a day, year round to friends and neighbors who are experiencing homelessness or staying in their now whole block of buildings converted into shelters. We played bingo in an elderly low-income housing building where most of the folks didn’t speak English but they smiled and shouted for joy when one won a silly dollar-store clapper that we had brought as a prize.

Through it all we learned, that the city of Chicago had so much more to teach us than we could bring it. We saw that relationships are what it is all about, and that generosity and God’s spirit are found everywhere, especially in places that you might not expect to find it.

As representative of our trip, I want to tell you a story about our last night together on the trip. We were gathered in for dinner and worship with all the other groups from around the midwest who were serving in Chicago that week. I think there were 9 churches, and when gathered together we were well over 100 folks. We sang a few songs and we had volunteers share where their group saw God while serving.

Then they introduced our guest speaker for the night. Pastor Jonathan Brooks, otherwise known as Pastah J. At least that’s what he told us to call him, cause that’s what everyone in his neighborhood calls him. He shared about how he grew up in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, and he left, he got several master degrees, and then found that God led him back to serve his community. He shared about how the neighborhood had lots to teach him as well. Then he shared something that I think will stick with all of us who served that week.

He told us, “We’re so glad you’re here, but we don’t need you.” Pastah J hit us like a bag of oranges to the gut. He started telling us about how God was already doing amazing things in neighborhoods like Englewood or Lawndale or Uptown. He was really glad that we got a chance to hang out in their great city, and to learn from it, but then he reminded us that Chicago isn’t ours to fix. That’s God’s job in partnership with the folks in those neighborhoods that God is already using. And that our calling was back wherever we came from, that our role was to see that playing with and mentoring kids is something that needs to happen there (for us in Columbia), that there are lonely senior citizens who could use a group of teenagers to play bingo (for us in Columbia), that there are people experiencing homelessness there (in Columbia).

Pastah J wasn’t taking it easy on us, but he was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was reminding all of us that no matter how hard you want to fix something, that change isn’t always in our hands. God is the one who transforms lives, we just need to be on the lookout for what God is already doing around us everyday and joining into it.

It was a great Mission Trip, but more importantly was that for the 19 of us who went, it was a reminder that we already have a mission field. And so do you.

Story and photo by Broadway CC Associate Minister Rev. Nick Larson.

Mission News from Troy

First Christian Church Troy had an exciting and very successful VBS program in June with over 500 in attendance the week of June 18-22. They also collected $750 for The Key (a new homeless shelter for teens being built in Troy) and collected some 170 jars of peanut butter for the local Buddy Bags program. Additionally, the Keystone adult Sunday School class donated a new microwave oven to The Key.

This past week, Troy Story II took place in Lincoln County. FCC-Troy is one of the major sponsors and had approximately 30 youth and adults participating. This event brings more than 400 youth from around the country to work on rehabbing projects for homes in the county. FCC-Troy is involved with hosting GROUP leadership, helping with the Sunday night meal, providing their 3 buses for transport of work teams, 100 dozen cookies for mid-week, and the Praise Team "Blind Faith" as well as Rev. Dr. Jeffrey T. Moore will be a part of evening worship each night.

Thanks to FCC Troy Sr. Minister Rev. Dr. Jeff Moore for this story
and to Church Administrator Sherri Stark for the photos.

FCC St. Joseph at Urban Mission Inn

When you attend a mostly-white church and live in a relatively segregated community of 78,000 people where eighty-eight percent of the population is white, how do you engage the issues of racism and reconciliation? An intergenerational group from First Christian Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, decided to tackle this challenge by journeying together to inner city St. Louis, ground zero for the struggle with racism in our country. This group of youth and adults spent a week at The Urban Mission Inn, a ministry located at Union Avenue Christian Church. This historic church sits on the “Delmar Divide,” a literal geographic dividing line in St. Louis City between black and white, affluent and poor. The Urban Mission Inn offers not only housing in this urban setting, but also a schedule of volunteer and educational opportunities for groups of all ages.

The St. Joseph team spent their week in a variety of hands-on ministries. They helped with prep work for vacation Bible school at an inner city Salvation Army.  They sorted donated items at The Angel Boutique, a resale shop where all the proceeds go to provide social services to youth and seniors. They worked with children at Kingdom House, an inner city outreach to youth, parents, and the elderly. They volunteered their sweat equity at the Washington Park Cemetery. This historically important and racially segregated cemetery, relocated due to an expansion of Lambert Airport, was severely neglected.  Most of the graves on the site, many dating back to the 1800’s, are now covered over by woods. The group worked with other volunteers to clear a small portion of the site, helping to make more of the graves accessible to loved ones.

In addition to hands-on work, the team also engaged in educational and awareness activities. They participated in a drum circle, learning about music and dance from the Congo.  They walked “The Delmar Divide,” seeing first-hand the economic and racial segregation of the inner city, and discussed the historic implications of racial injustice in St. Louis. They took a special guided tour of the civil rights exhibits at the Missouri History Museum and engaged in a challenging discussion about justice, white privilege and direct action.

At the end of the week, the St. Joseph team sensed a call to share their experiences with the church members back home, looking for new ways to engage in hands-on ministry in their community as well as new opportunities to look more deeply at the racial and justice issues in their own city.   

Thanks to FCC pastor Rev. Brian Kirk for this story.

Republic FCC at Disciples Summer Mission

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A group of 7 youth and 2 adults from Republic First Christian Church traveled to Lexington, KY to join 170 other youth on the Disciples Summer Mission trip. The theme for the week, was "Back to our Roots". While there we worked at Quest Farm, a farm for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We partnered with The Woodlands Christian Church in helping restore the farm's greenhouse and cleaned out storage sheds. The second day the group worked on the grounds of the Cane Ridge Meeting House, prepping the grounds' 20+  picnic tables for painting. We were able to hear from the curator the history of Cane Ridge and how the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ came to be. 

The third day the group worked all day at Lexington's newly opened 2nd Habitat for Humanity Restore, sorting through and pricing donations. Lexington's Habitat Restores have raised over $3 million for Habitat. Each evening found us at Crestwood Christian Church for an amazing time of worship. All in all it was a great trip and we are excited about DSM coming to Springfield next year (June 24-28).

Thanks to Pastor Lee Young for this information and photos.

The Lakota Experience of Olivet Christian Church

Olivet Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Columbia, MO, participated in a Cultural Immersion experience during the first week of June at the Pine Ridge Retreat Center in Pine Ridge, SD on the Oglala Lakota Reservation. It created memories forever etched on the hearts of the 11 attendees, as well as strengthened our great respect for the Lakota People and their culture. I learned about the Pine Ridge Retreat Center from a dear friend who attends St. Andrews Evangelical Lutheran church in Columbia. A group from St. Andrews had returned from a stay at the Retreat Center several years ago, and I attended their church presentation. Every person who attended the retreat spoke with total enthusiasm about their experience. It was then that I felt the Creator nudging me forward. When Rev. Wes Knight became Olivet's new minister, we discovered within the first five minutes of conversation that we both shared a great respect for the Lakota Native Americans living on the Pine Ridge reservation, the poorest county in the entire United States, and voiced a common desire to help in some way. Olivet's Native American Ministry was born.

To enter the Pine Ridge Retreat Center's front door, one must walk under an open-air wooden structure built to resemble a tipi. Hanging from the inside center top of that tipi shape is a large empty wooden cross. Walking under this structure several times each day, one got the feeling of being "blessed" in our coming and going. We knew we were where the Creator wanted us to be, ready to grow, experience and share God's love in the week ahead.

During our five day stay, after a good breakfast each morning, our group visited a location significant to the Lakota People. We visited the wonderful Oglala Lakota College and Historical Center, as well as the Red Cloud Indian School and historical cemetery. Our visit to Wounded Knee was an emotional day when we showed our respect at the mass grave where the bodies of 150 plus Lakota adults and children massacred at Wounded Knee had been literally dumped into a trench on that bitterly cold December day  in 1890.  We also had the honor to visit with the greatly respected medicine man and Lakota elder, Basil Brave Heart and eat lunch with him.  We were all greatly impressed and encouraged to visit the Lakota based Community Development "Thunder Valley" located in Porcupine.

 

After lunch back at the Retreat Center we prepared for Kids' Time each afternoon when 20-25 Native youth from ages 5-12 came to enjoy activities like arts & crafts, games, and listening to guitar music and storytelling shared by our own Larry Brown. Each evening meal was followed by a presentation by a Lakota artist /craftsman such as Kevin Poor Bear and his inspirational charcoal drawings or Valery Brown Eyes' colorful porcupine quill jewelry. Friday night featured a local art show where we were able to purchase native artwork and crafts. Our last night at Pine Ridge ended with our attendance at a colorful, exciting Pow-Wow right there in Pine Ridge. The final activity of each day was a Talking Circle where we shared our thoughts and insights of that day's activities. The week was over in what seemed like a blink.

The Lakota embrace the expression, "Mitakuye Oyasin" which means, "We are all related; we are all connected." It is an important component to Native spirituality. We heard that often at the Retreat Center. In fact, Colton, our Retreat Leader, had that very statement tattooed on his inner forearm. Olivet's Cultural Immersion team experienced exactly that kinship throughout our week at Pine Ridge. Our hearts and eyes were opened to the challenging, resilient, inspiring journey of the Lakota People. We left Pine Ridge with "Mitakuye Oyasin" forever tattooed on our hearts. 

Story by Fran Webb DeMaster
Photography by LF Graue

Disciples Day at Cane Ridge

On Saturday, June 23, Disciples from many Regions, including Mid-America, gathered at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, to honor and commemorate an important part of Disciples history. The Cane Ridge meeting house – the sight of the 1801 revival led by Barton Stone and several ecumenical colleagues – hosts this gathering of Disciples every year. Participants came together in the old log structure to sing hymns, listen to guest musicians, enjoy a picnic lunch, and hear a lecture by the Rev. Dr. Richard Lowery, President of the Disciples Historical Society, and a sermon by former General Minister and President Sharon Watkins who is now working with the National Council of Churches.

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Lowery reminded the congregation that God is a God who liberates slaves, and Watkins assured hearers that God’s power for sight can transform people even when they are blinded by social injustices and oppressive structures. 

Both Lowery and Watkins spoke about the importance of the history of the Stone-Campbell Movement, and our call to be open to the same spirit that empowered our forebears in the faith. They reminded participants that our “movement for wholeness in a fragmented world” requires faithful decisions and difficult choices, but that we can learn from those who went before us – both their successes and their failures – about what it means to seek out and stand for justice for all people, and live the unity to which we are called as members of the Body of Christ.

Thank you to Webster Groves CC's
Pastor Jeff Moore for story and
member Denise Pahl for photos.

June 20th is World Refugee Day

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On June 17th many of us celebrated Fathers' Day. Many also observed Refugee & Immigrant Welcome Sunday as a special day to lift up refugee and immigrant contributions and challenges. 

As June 20th is World Refugee Day, please take some time to learn about and support some of the important ministries that strive to bring more safety, peace, and wholeness into this fragmented world.

Many of these resources have helpful background information, links to other organizations, and lots of concrete suggestions and guidance for how to get involved.

C.R.Y. Mission

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High school youth across the Mid-America Region are excited about a culmination of a year’s worth of hard work, planning, prayer and preparation.

The 25 members of the Leadership and Development team of the Christian Regional Youth Cabinet will celebrate their accomplishments at the annual C.R.Y. Festival on July 23-26, 2018 at the Marianist Retreat Center in Eureka, MO.

 Adrienne Layton of Marshall pitching in!

Adrienne Layton of Marshall pitching in!

This team of CRY Cabinet members meet quarterly throughout the year, staying at host churches across the Mid-America Region. During these 24 hour meetings, they engage in mission and service work in the community, and occasionally justice work such as the March for Our Lives demonstration. The team also participates in leadership development training and role-playing scenarios. A large portion of the time is spent planning, praying, preparing and working together to create an annual Festival where all are welcome and celebrated. To finish off their meetings, the Cabinet attends and typically presents or leads a portion of the worship service at their host church.

The Christian Regional Youth Festival has been an integral part of the Mid-American Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for over 40 years. The Festival has historically met at one of the four Disciples of Christ colleges in Missouri, but has recently begun branching out to new locations.

 Kris Milliron & Glen Clemens are also helping at this Saline County BBQ lunch service.

Kris Milliron & Glen Clemens are also helping at this Saline County BBQ lunch service.

In 2016, CRY-goers participated in Mission First with the greater church of the United States and Canada, drawing the attention of then General Minister and President Sharon Watkins as one of few youth gatherings involved in the initiative. Mission and service now have become a priority with CRY participants, and have been incorporated into each of the quarterly gatherings and at the Festival itself. Members serve in a variety of ways: in their host communities, at organizations, in letter-writing campaigns, outdoor work, and at their host campuses.

 

The CRY Festival, because of its emphasis on youth leadership and spiritual development, has a significant percentage of alumni that pursue religious studies through higher education. Disciples of Christ affiliated colleges and universities across North America offer excellent scholarship opportunities for CRY alum.

Youth completing grades 8-12 are invited to the CRY Festival, where youth (and adult sponsors) lead a four-day Festival filled with abounding love, fellowship, friendship, education, worship and prayer, and plenty of fun.

The CRY Cabinet invites you to experience this life-changing event this summer! The early registration discount has been extended to June 15th so check it out and register today!

Thanks to CRY adult leader Kris Milliron of FCC in Marshall for this story and to
CRY adult leader Carole Hughes of Webster Groves CC for the photos.

Four St. Louis Congregations Serve Others Together

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On Thursday, May 31, four St. Louis area Disciples congregations helped purchase, prepare, and serve a BBQ lunch for residents and staff at Cooper House, a residential care facility for people living with HIV and AIDS.  Cooper House is a part of Doorways, a St. Louis-based organization providing “Housing, Health, and Hope” for people living with HIV.  

 

 

More than twenty members of Centennial Christian Church, Memorial Boulevard Christian Church, Union Avenue Christian Church, and Webster Groves Christian Church helped cook and serve hot dogs, brats, hamburgers, BBQ chicken, and BBQ ribs.  Church members also brought delicious desserts for the event.  Residents, staff, and volunteers had a great time, eating, talking, and getting to know one another.  Doorways staff and members of the four congregations have already begun discussing the next event!

Thanks to Rev. Dr. Jeff Moore, pastor of WGCC, for information and photo.

Maysville Goes Live!

How does a very small rural Church in Northwest Missouri have a reach that stretches across our nation and even to India and China? I am the part-time Pastor of First Christian Church of Maysville, MO. We are a very small county seat congregation, averaging around 15-20 people each Sunday in attendance; however, this week, we have had about 120 people joining with our worship so far, and that number is still growing. How do we do that? Facebook Live.

Over the last year or so, I’ve come to realize that many people, especially younger people, simply are not going to come visit our Church on their own. We live in the age of the internet, and it has become the go-to source of information and first contact for a large percentage of people – especially younger generations. I was skeptical, at best, of the idea of “Doing Church” online. After all, one major part of Church is fellowship, which admittedly lacks in online Church; however, it opens a door to fellowship in the future that otherwise may never open. And, besides, live streaming our service? Certainly beyond our budget, right?

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Wrong!  As a techie, (I have spent most of my 37 years in the ministry as a music/technology minister) I was totally in the dark when it came to live streaming. The last time I looked into it was several years ago, and the cost was huge. Now, though, hardly a day passes that I don’t see a friend on Facebook, “Live.” So I reached out to a few and found out just how easy it is. And so, one Sunday, we just did it, to try. All I needed was my iPhone (Android phones are OK too), an internet plan with enough data (about 8 GB per month), and a way to hold the phone.

For the first Sunday, the “trying it out”, I grabbed a fast food large drink plastic cup, turned it upside down, cut a notch about 1½ “deep, put my phone in it, and set it on our DVD player in the second row. Then I launched my Facebook, started a post, clicked on video, then “Live Video”, switched to the rear camera, and had my projection person hit the “start” after our contemporary music (due to copyright issues). Up front cost - $0. We had a board meeting right after that service and we decided to continue it and purchase a tripod. That week, I bought an inexpensive tripod and another small tripod with a smartphone mount, put the mount on the larger tripod, and we’re set up. The total cost of that was about $70.

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The next step is to get the membership on board and get them to “share” the video each week, which dramatically increases your “views”. We have family members of mine and others in our Church who live in other states, from Minnesota to Texas, joining us live every Sunday morning - going to Church “with us” even though they are hundreds of miles away. I have friends on the east coast and Indiana who join us either live or later during the week. And, because I run a computer and cell phone repair business, I am Facebook friends with sales people and owners of parts suppliers and distributors in places like India, China, and Saudi Arabia. I have received messages from some in India and China that they have viewed our video and enjoyed it! Our next step is that we just started a Tithe.ly account, where viewers can participate in the offering as well. 

If your congregation is thinking about doing this and you need to talk about it or ask technical questions, reach out to me by email at prcsonar@att.net.

Thanks to Pastor Paul Cockram for this story and photos.

 

Canned Fruit Month at Clinton CC

Clinton Christian Church has been supporting the Samaritan Center for over 20 years and has a large group of volunteers that work there every Wednesday. The center is a not for profit organization that helps those less fortunate with food and utility assistance in Clinton.

 The church newsletter shared this photo of "The Queen of Canned Fruit perched on her throne."

The church newsletter shared this photo of "The Queen of Canned Fruit perched on her throne."

Given this long history, and her long-standing desire to help others, Pastor Tim Wessley's wife Tina turned her 50th birthday into a congregational challenge that helped a lot of people!

As her milestone day approached, Tina reached out to the coordinator of Samaritan Center donations to see what was most needed. At the time, the item was canned fruit. All right, then - how much? Requesting that the congregation collect 50 cans of fruit was clearly not much of a challenge. So she set quite an ambitious hope before the church - the donation of 1968 cans to this worthy cause. She made the year of her birth the goal and turned March into Canned Fruit Month!

Members really pitched in, extended the donation deadline, and in the end had collected 1,857 cans. What a creative project and terrific accomplishment!

Thanks to Pastor Tim Wessley for this information and photo.

The Pantry

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The Pantry is a unique food assistance organization that provides healthy, inexpensive food, simple instructions for its preparation, and the support of a true partnership between its volunteers and its guests. The idea came to life four years ago at one of Mid-America's new churches, Table of Grace, in Jefferson City. When they realized the scope of food insecurity in their local area, founders were motivated to do something about it. They also quickly identified a desire to provide more than pre-packaged, odd, or even expired food,  and to eliminate the hassle and indignity that can sometimes meet visitors at a food pantry. 

Inspired by the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000, one of the founding members, Stephanie Scott-Huffman, explains her view of what happened that day: "It’s pretty amazing he was able to get a large crowd of people to give what they had and others to take what they needed and then in the end, there was plenty left." That's the true miracle. 

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Now in its third home and serving about 400 people each month, The Pantry continues to provide not just a random assortment of food items, but the ingredients and instructions for a planned menu. This model results in much healthier meals for the guests, a shopping list of items needed which takes the guesswork out for donors, and a collection of recipes and other tips that guests will be able to use to stretch their food budget. All of this takes place with no burden of guest qualifications, documentation, or proselytizing.

Though Table of Grace has closed, this ecumenical ministry and community effort continues with the simple desire of everyone involved to help their neighbors.

 

There's so much more to know about The Pantry!
- Visit their website.
- Read the whole, impassioned description of The Pantry's history by Stephanie Scott-Huffman.
- Check out their coverage in Her online magazine (complete with recipes!).
- Read the most recent article about their new location in the News Tribune.

Day of Service in Poplar Bluff

 Mark Richardson, Stanley Pinkston, and Jack Maxwell serve up a meal for a Bread Shed guest.

Mark Richardson, Stanley Pinkston, and Jack Maxwell serve up a meal for a Bread Shed guest.

The First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Poplar Bluff Second Annual Day of Service is in the books.

The church members were living out the command in James’ letter to the early church of having both faith and works to show the gospel to the people.

James writes to the early church, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.”

This year the church members partnered with Bright Futures and the Bread Shed to give back to the community.

April 29th was designated as Undie Sundie by Bright Futures to collect underwear for students in the Poplar Bluff R1 School District. Two hundred thirteen pairs of underwear were collected for students and the Poplar Bluff school system. Nine pair of socks were also collected.


Later one hundred fifty meals were served at the weekly meal for community members at the Bread Shed.

Our next Day of Service will be the second Sunday of July when we will grill hot dogs and hamburgers for our city and county police, state police, firefighters, and first responders.

Doris Chlastak waits to serve desserts for Bread Shed guests. >>


Thanks to the church's pastor Rev. Frank Chlastak
for this information and photos.

 

Spirituality - A View from Chiapas, Mexico

Dr. Larry Colvin, Regional Minister; Dr. Tim Carson, Pastor at Broadway Christian Church in Columbia; and Rev. Kathryn Wilson, Minister of Outreach and Mission at South Joplin Christian Church took part in a People-to-People Spiritual Pilgrimage to Chiapas, Mexico, April 17-26. The three were met  by Global Ministries Mission Co-Worker Elena Huegel who serves through Instituto de Estudios y Investigacion Intercultural (INESIN)  in San Critabol. She prepared the pilgrimage and was host.


Each day the group shared in an understanding of spirituality from one or more traditions. On the first day, Pastor Martin Guerrero, Director of INESIN, presented an ecumenical and intercultural introduction of various spiritual practices in the  Mexican context. He also placed these spiritual understandings in the context of the history, politics, culture, and social settings in Mexico and in particular, the State of Chiapas.

Two days were devoted to learning about the traditions of indigenous peoples who are of Mayan decent. Though many of their spiritual practices were long forbidden by Catholic authorities and outlawed by the Mexican government, in recent years they have resurfaced and are now allowed to be practiced. Many blend aspects of their Mayan spirituality with their Catholic or Protestant spirituality. As an example, there are four colors of corn which is native to the land. The four colors of corn may often be seen shaped into a cross and laid on individual altars found in homes. Evergreens are used on the altar as a reminder of eternal life, just as Christians use evergreens in winter to remind us of eternal life. Many times the altars are in the form of a circle to remember that God is also eternal. Flowers are used as a sign of God's creation. Candles, used more by Catholics and not Protestants, are a symbol of the light of God and continuation of prayers to God.

On the final day, the group gathered for individual prayer and shared their individual spiritual understandings. They also discussed how faith and spirituality have been both challenged and strengthened through the pilgrimage.

In the coming weeks Dr. Carson and Rev. Wilson will each share personal reflections of the days together. 

Thanks to Dr. Larry Colvin for this information and photos.
Read Elena Huegel's Spring newsletter.

Dr. Tim Carson shares his reflections.