Free Community Breakfast in Troy

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On the second Saturday of each month, First Christian Church in Troy hosts a free community breakfast. On that day, around 50 people from Lincoln County join together for a hot breakfast and warm fellowship. More than 15 volunteers make it happen by setting up, cooking, serving, and cleaning up. 

It all started just over a year ago when Naomi Uy-Moore had the idea. Naomi is Senior Minister Jeff Moore's wife, who started a similar program at Central Christian Church in Hermitage, PA. She presented her idea to the Board for their approval and they were behind it immediately. In fact a number of gifts came in as seed money for her to begin the program. She continues to head up the effort by preparing menus, buying supplies, and organizing volunteers.

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A typical breakfast starts with set-up on the preceding Friday night. About 12 individuals will show up to set tables, organize serving tables, prepare decorations (ie: Veterans Day weekend we had flags and red/white/blue balloons). Then on Saturday the volunteers start at 7 am with prayer and cooking begins. Our doors open at 8 am and we cook and serve right through 11:00 am. We do not begin clean-up until the 11:00 hour because we don't want anyone to feel rushed. A separate cleaning crew comes to break down tables and wash dishes.

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The breakfast is promoted through our front marquee, newspaper press releases, the local ministerial alliance, and word of mouth now... as it is a year old and doing well. The program continues to change as the population continues to change. But consistently we have seen veterans and young families attend, both of whom are seeking fellowship, as well as a hot breakfast. We consistently have between 40-60 each month. Many are the same people, but each time we gain a few new ones. This program is entirely outreach oriented, supported by donations which come from church members. We do not ask for anything from those who come to the breakfast. The program costs us about $70 per month, but everyone agrees is well worth it!

Thanks to Rev. Dr. Jeff Moore
for this story and photos.

Continuing Education in the Northwest

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On November 4, a dreary Saturday morning, twelve ministers and a facilitator gathered at the First Christian Church in Cameron to participate in a workshop entitled A Training Workshop on Spiritual Response to Domestic and Sexual Violence. It is not a topic very many people know much about. It is also a topic people don’t want to talk about. All the more reason to present the workshop.

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The facilitator was Meghann Kosman, a Court/Victim Advocate at the Maryville Children and Family Center. One by one, Meghann led the group through the different kinds of domestic and sexual abuse that exist; what the signs of abuse were that they needed to watch for; where the individuals caught in this environment could go for help if they needed it. She challenged the participants' preconceptions and stereotypes and provided alternative understanding to why and how an individual finds themselves in an abusive and violent situation.  

The group participated in some simulation based training, putting themselves “In The Shoes” of the different people who find themselves victims of domestic and/or sexual violence. The participants learned that it is not unusual for a person caught in this situation to be experiencing both kinds of violence, domestic and sexual. That presents challenges for helping them find a way out, especially the teenagers. This was an intensive workshop experience that challenged everyone in the room to not only look at these issues with a new perspective, but to make sure this new perspective focused on finding ways to develop a viable, healing, spiritual response to a situation in which people often find themselves feeling hopeless.

What did the participants learn? Well, according to the evaluations they turned in, the workshop exceeded their expectations. They learned that as long as this subject remains hidden, tucked away from our day-to-day lives, there will be more and more victims. They learned that domestic and sexual abuse are often connected and are a manifestation of misusing power and control. They learned that economic abuse, emotional abuse, and using isolation and intimidation of the victims all contribute to what is called a cycle of violence.

The event was organized by Rev. Terry Robison, pastor of First Christian Church in Burlington Junction and Pickering Christian Church. Terry also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Northwest Office Commissioning Ministry Team (CMT), which was challenged by the Chair to develop local continuing education opportunities. Because of the success of this workshop, plans are being made to present it again after the first of the year, possibly early Spring. Watch the News Update for information on time and place.

November 4th was a dreary day in Cameron Missouri. But, the opportunity to participate in this workshop may help the participants make someone’s life brighter. And that is what continuing education is supposed to be about, not just getting the necessary hours to meet a requirement but to continue to learn how to be a good, caring, helpful minister. The twelve participants in this workshop learned skills they might not otherwise have. And perhaps, one day, in some place, someone’s life may end up being changed because someone heard their cry for help and reached out to them. This is the power of education.

This story is a portion of the complete report submitted by Rev. Patrick Overton,
pastor of Arrow Rock Federated Church and chair of the NW CMT.
See his original document for more details on the planning, execution,
and evaluation of this event.

South Joplin Christian Church Assists with Utility Aid

Minister of Mission & Outreach Rev. Kathryn Wilson was interviewed recently by local news about the growing number of utility assistance requests.

Minister of Mission & Outreach Rev. Kathryn Wilson was interviewed recently by local news about the growing number of utility assistance requests.

South Joplin Christian Church is sincere in its efforts to meet the needs of those seeking help in the local Joplin community.  Sometimes that assistance extends beyond the city limits to smaller surrounding communities in Jasper and Newton counties.  Although assisting others in this manner has always been part of South Joplin’s outreach efforts, in 2012 the congregation decided to make changes in their approach to outreach and mission and added the position of a Minister of Mission and Outreach to the staff.  Having a staff person in place with the responsibility of administering outreach assistance, among other mission responsibilities. has proven to be an asset for the church.  Now the church is better able to manage how outreach assistance is provided and make best use of its available resources to meet more needs.  This has become possible through the building of relationships and collaboration with other helping agencies and churches.  Working together with others means needs are being met especially during times when the resources of larger helping agencies are running low or have been depleted.

It is impossible for the congregation to know from one year to the next the number of people it will assist.  A review of the Outreach records during the past three years reflects the following number of families were assisted with utilities, rent, gas, medical, lodging and auto repair: 2015 – 30 families; 2016 – 39 families and 2017 – 41 families to date.  The Outreach Minister monitors available funds regularly to avoid as much as possible depleting funds.  There is a maximum amount established for all types of assistance and “guidelines are in place to serve people as best we can and to not enable them – not become a revolving door.”  Assistance is provided once in a twelve month period which is explained at the time of the request, realizing that occasionally there are exceptions.  Participating in a community data base, Charity Tracker, further helps identify how those who come to the church have been served by other community entities.  When unable to help, referrals are made to other known agencies, non-profits and churches that may be able to assist, which involves being knowledgeable of other resources in the community.  This helps tremendously in stretching the church’s dollars. 

Funding for our Outreach budget is provided by an established percentage of the weekly offerings being funneled to the Outreach budget weekly.  A portion of that percentage is then specifically earmarked for local outreach.  Additional funds are raised throughout the year through events such as our Annual Alternative Christmas Gift Fair, gifts from the church such as our permanent fund and the sale of Equal Exchange products.  Utility assistance is only one of many outreach and mission endeavors of South Joplin.  The church is a faith-based partner with Irving Elementary School and throughout the year provides funding for some of their educational initiatives and other activities, emergency requests from the counselor and Christmas needs for families.  South Joplin has also been a supporting partner with Crosslines Ministries, a local pantry since its inception 35 years ago with regularly monthly contributions and a food donation challenge to the congregation monthly. 

The South Joplin congregation strives to live into their five faith practices of Genuine Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service and Spirit-led Generosity.  Our motto for mission: “Mission in Action – Being the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Submitted by Rev. Kathryn Wilson
Minister of Mission and Outreach

Izola Jones Lectureship Series at Boonville FCC

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There is an expression that says, “Once a teacher, always a teacher.” That certainly holds true for Izola Jones, former Boonville Elementary School 6th Grade Teacher and member and Sunday School Teacher for the First Christian Church in Boonville, Missouri. In fact, Jones continues to influence many of her former students many years after her death. This was especially true on Saturday, October 14th as the Boonville First Christian Church presented the inaugural Izola Jones Annual Lectureship Series featuring Dr. M. Eugene Boring, one of our nation’s most respected theologians and scholars.

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The first program in this first lectureship series was held on Saturday, October 14th and presented three lectures by Dr. Boring that addressed the change and transition the contemporary church is experiencing today by exploring the vision for the church shared in the New Testament. The theme of the event was Revealing A Future Vision From The Past.  Approximately 74 clergy and lay persons from around the state attended the event. Roger McMurry, minister at the Boonville FCC says this first event in the lectureship exceeded all of our expectations. “We couldn’t be more pleased,” he said with no effort to hide his very large smile.

This event was made possible by the Izola Jones Annual Lectureship Series at the Boonville First Christian Church. The lectureship Series was established this year by Izola Jones’ daughter, Joyce Lake, to honor her mother’s legacy as a public school and Sunday School teacher. It is unusual for churches in small communities to present this kind of programming, especially with it being open free of charge to church members and all clergy and laity in Boonville and across the state. But, being unusual has always been a badge the Boonville First Christian Church has worn with honor. This Lectureship Series carries on this tradition. This event was designed for clergy, lay people, and church leaders in Boonville and around the state, promoting interaction among the leadership of the whole church. An after session followed the lectures for clergy, teachers, and church leaders to enhance their ability to listen to what the writings of John say to the Church. 

Izola Jones is not giving the lectures herself, she passed away many years ago. But, her commitment to excellence in teaching and learning was present during the event. This newly established Lectureship Series celebrates her commitment to learning and her core value as a teacher that we should be learning our entire life, not just in school. Those who knew Izola Jones knew she was a force to behold. And so was her life’s vision.

Whether teaching sixth grade students or Adult Sunday School class – her expectations as a teacher were the same – do your homework, show up on time, and be prepared to learn. For those students who learned early on that these were her expectations, they maximized their learning from a very good teacher. For those who didn’t, well. . . thanks to the Lectureship Series named after her, these students had one more opportunity to get extra credit for turning in missed assignments by attending this program on October 14th. That may not make up for all the lost assignments, but it is never too late to learn.

As Izola Jones would say, “Do your homework, show up on time, and be prepared to learn.”  The Izola Jones Annual Lectureship Series is just what the Boonville First Christian Church needed to do to make this happen.

Thank you to Roger McMurry and Patrick Overton for this story.

Practicing Hope at Compton Heights CC

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On Saturday, November 4, members of seven Mid-America Disciples congregations, in addition to several from United Church of Christ congregations, and members of our Disciples of Christ LGBTQ+ Council gathered at Compton Heights Christian Church in St. Louis for a “Building An Inclusive Church Training.”

It was a faith-filled, hope-filled day as we talked about what it means to be the Church of Jesus Christ which fully includes everyone God welcomes at the Table of Christ.   Those present were people wanting to help their congregations have faithful study and discussion of what it means to be Open and Affirming communities of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. 

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The training was led by the Rev. Dr. Mark Johnston, Executive Director of the Open and Affirming Ministries program of the Disciples LGBTQ+ Alliance (formerly called GLAD Alliance).  Congregations represented were at many places in the process; from those “just thinking about starting a conversation” to those who understand themselves as welcoming of LGBTQ+ people but have not done a congregation-wide study taken the step to declare themselves “Open  & Affirming” to one congregation that has been officially “O & A” for a long time and is always exploring how to deepen their ministry.

The material introduced and explored is the “Building An Inclusive Church Toolkit.”  What is wonderful about this resource is that it is not just a curriculum.  Rather it recognizes that every congregation is different, with different needs, different starting places, different contexts.  The ‘Toolkit’ gives congregations the tools to assess where the congregation is beginning, and to create the journey, with a variety of suggested resources.  Most of all, we are called to connect with our heart, to listen to each other, and to be open to the life experience and spiritual journey of God’s people!

Hosting this event was the culmination of a week of involvement for Compton Heights Christian Church.  Some of us were involved in the 3 day Ecumenical Christian conference “Rolling the Stone Away” which was held in St. Louis, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.  At this conference, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Affirming Christians from across the United States worshiped, remembered the Saints who have gone before us, gathered in workshops, and celebrated the movement of the Spirit in the Church and society. Disciples leaders in the movement spoke with such faith, power, and grace!

Then on Friday, Nov. 3, our Disciples LGBTQ+ Alliance Council met for retreat at Compton Heights CC and had a wonderful day identifying priorities, such as Anti-Racism work. 

So by the time we hosted the training on Saturday, we were full!  Then on Sunday, Rev. Jacque Foster, pastor of CHCC, and the Rev. Dan Adolphson, Moderator of Alliance Q (the Disciples LGBTQ+ Alliance’s nickname!), did a ‘sermon duet’ and the Rev. Dr. Mark Johnston shared a Mission moment in worship.  Worship on that All Saints Sunday celebrated how we “practice hope” at the Table of Christ; a perfect way to lead us forward surrounded by that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us.

Read more about Compton Heights CC history of open and affirming ministry in Jacque's reflection "How did we get here?"

Thank you to CHCC pastor Jacque Foster for this story and
to WGCC pastor Jeff Moore for the photos.

Wyatt Park Christian Church Hosts Mission Partners

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Over the span of three weekends, Wyatt Park Christian Church in St. Joseph is welcoming two of its global mission partners. Brother Henry Bhasker from the Good Shepherd Mission in Puttur, India visited with Pastor Scott Killgore during the 9:15 Service October 22. Wyatt Park has partnered with Good Shepherd since 1998, has sent monthly financial support since 2000, and periodically sends mission teams there. Good Shepherd operates orphanages, a school, three hospitals, an HIV/Aids facility, an elderly care facility, and supports 15 village churches, all in southeastern India.

On November 4-5, Wyatt Park will welcome Gerald Emmanuel, pastor of churches in Cambridge and Holland, Jamaica. For 15 years, Wyatt Park members Dr. Tom & Susie Alderson have partnered with those two congregations to organize medical and dental mission trips to southwestern, rural Jamaica. A 35-member medical and dental team will travel to Jamaica in late January 2018, to serve in Jesus' name in a part of Jamaica that tourists don't see. 

Story and photo courtesy of Rev. Scott Killgore,
Senior Pastor Wyatt Park Christian Church.
Scott has recently published a book about the congregation,
"Beyond the Window: A Faith Community in America's Heartland."

Brentwood CC Raises $7,000 for Local Students through Concert

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Musicians from the Springfield area joined forces at Brentwood Christian Church on Oct. 1 in order to raise money for local students who would like to participate in musical programs at their schools, but lack the financial resources for doing so.

The event -- known as "NeuroJam" -- featured Dr. Gray Matter and the Zone Blitzers, a group of musicians, music therapists, scientists and dreamers from Brentwood Christian Church and the local community who came together to make this fundraiser possible. 

    

    

Why NeuroJam? It's because the opportunity to participate in music education directly impacts opportunities for children to learn and grow. From a scientific viewpoint, children’s brains develop differently if they learn to play an instrument. Many of the members of the band are scientists, doctors, and music therapists who work with patients and clients daily, using music to bring about transformation. Brain development, the sense of belonging to a group, and the sheer joy of playing and learning something new all support children as they move forward both educationally and socially.

 

The idea for the concert emerged out of Springfield's "Zone Blitz" initiative, which is a city-wide effort aimed at reducing the rate of poverty in Springfield, which is currently double the average in the state of Missouri. Brentwood Christian Church has worked closely with Central Assembly of God in a partnership designed to bring two very different churches together in order to focus on Jesus' call to care for the poor. The NeuroJam concert gave Brentwood the opportunity to raise $7,000 that can go directly to this initiative. Funds will be used to repair instruments, purchase instruments, and cover costs and fees incurred for families in need of financial support so their children can participate in musical programs and activities.

Story and photos courtesy of Rev. Dr. Phil Snider,
Brentwood CC Sr. Minister.
The concert was also covered by a local newspaper.

Eat, Praise, Love

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World Communion Sunday is a special day in the life of mainline churches. Celebrated the first Sunday in October, congregations throughout the United States celebrate communion while conscious that other congregations are breaking the bread and drinking the cup. The practice has, for the most part, been done in the isolation of the local congregation. World Communion Sunday became a little more global this year in Bowling Green, MO. The congregations of the local Presbyterian, Methodist, and Disciple churches celebrated together. Members of the three congregations gathered at the Methodist church for breakfast. Participants also wrote simple prayers on strips of cloth that were tied to tree branches that were placed on the chancel area for worship.

Members then gathered for the worship hour at First Christian, DOC. The service featured a choir comprised of members from the three congregations. Communion was shared. The worship became a World Communion experience.

Worship was followed with a carry-in lunch at the Presbyterian church to conclude the day.

The Bowling Green Ministerial Association is comprised of these three faith families as well as several others that have never heard of World Communion Sunday. Information was shared concerning the plan for the special observance. The larger Baptist congregation, located across the street from the Methodist and DOC churches chose to combine their two services into one to celebrate “World Communion” in a single service and share a potluck afterwards. Perhaps the community effort will expand in the future and World Communion will be experienced as World Communion. Meanwhile three churches in Bowling Green are discussing what more will be done together.

Submitted by:
Rev. Bruce Moeller
Interim Pastor First Christian Church
Bowling Green, MO

Farmington CC Delivering Hope to St. Francois County

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In 2016 the Farmington Christian Church joined nine other Farmington churches to participate in Rural Compassion/Convoy of Hope.  Convoy of Hope is a “faith-based, nonprofit organization…” based in Springfield, MO with a goal to “bring help and hope to those who are impoverished, hungry, and hurting.” Convoy of Hope’s mission is “to feed the world through children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches and disaster response.” 

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Under the leadership of FCC’s Executive Council and Outreach Division, area agencies were selected as our partners. For example, the following agencies receive food, paper supplies, toys, cleaning supplies, snacks, water, drinks, and more. These shipments arrive about every two months, and our church inventories and delivers the supplies to our partner agencies:

  • W.L. Johns in the Farmington R-7 Schools (this school is for high school students who have       struggled in the regular classrooms) They enjoy snacks, drinks, etc. Not only have the students appreciated the items, but also the recipients in turn have shared with others. 
  • Jefferson Elementary in the same district  (1st-4th graders) Fun day with 1st graders in the Spring—students were given toy watering cans to water the plants they had just planted.
  • Farmington Skate Park. This park is a very popular gathering spot. In addition to recreation, there are Bible studies after school. Again, the leaders of the park find the “goodies” a drawing card for the skaters. In addition, FCC sponsors an after-school Bible study in each of the elementary-junior high schools, and the food delivered by Convoy of Hope nourishes the students just as the Bible study nourishes their faith in Jesus and God.
  • Additionally supplies have been shared with other agencies: Parkland Pregnancy Resource Center and Shared Blessings.

In conclusion, FCC is partnered with Convoy of Hope in sharing donated supplies ranging from food to toys to cleaning supplies, etc. with our “adopted” community friends.   We pray that other churches research Convoy of Hope and join us in “opening doors for education, clean water, sense of hope.”

After a successful 2016, FCC signed up for 2017-18. 

Thank you to Marlene Ragland,  Kim Amsden, and
Pastor Russell Alexander for this information.

Updated 10/09/2017 11:55am

Helping Hurricane Recovery Efforts

Two local churches, Community Church and First Christian of El Dorado Springs, MO partnered together to go on a work mission trip to Beaumont, Texas. For four days the group of nine worked to pack water soaked belongings out to the curb, remove sheet rock and tiles, and distribute funds and goods to folks in need.

The group of nine persons represented 5  churches and had donations from 9 churches.  They traveled about 1,500 miles in two vehicles pulling two enclosed trailers containing tools and about 1,500 lbs. of items to give away.  They helped 5 families in Texas and spent $4,000.00.

 

Those who made the trip and were able to serve were:  Scotty Pritchett, Heath Brown, Randy Haberle, Mike Nelson, Mike Greer, Sharon Greer, Chad Daniel, Eli Daniel, and Jack Daniel.

 

The youngest was 13, and the oldest was 73.  With the Daniel family, three generations were represented.  Thanks to those who donated, those who prayed, and to the folks of Texas who gave the workers such a warm welcome and showed such determination to overcome adversity.  Even one couple aged 97 and 94 whom they helped, is determined to build back and live in their home again.

Story and photos courtesy of Jack and Chad Daniel.

People to People Spiritual Pilgrimage to Chiapas, Mexico

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Mid-America Region & Missouri Mid-South Conference
People to People Spiritual Pilgrimage to Chiapas, Mexico
Group Leader, Dr. Larry Colvin

You are invited to take part in the Mid-America Region & Missouri Mid-South Conference People to People Spiritual Pilgrimage to Chiapas, Mexico April 17-26, 2018. The pilgrimage is sponsored by the Disciples & UCC in conjunction with Global Ministries. Our mission co-worker partner, Elena Huegel, and the Intituto de Estudios e Investigacion Interultural will be our hosts. The pilgrimage is open to nine adults (age 18 or older) from across the Region and Conference. Dr. Larry Colvin, Regional Minister Team member (CCMA), will serve as group leader.

The pilgrimage cost of $1,530 includes round trip airfare from St. Louis to Mexico City (air fare in Mexico is additional – see below), all lodging, land transportation while in Mexico, and most meals in Mexico. Pilgrims will be responsible for any baggage fees, taxes, additional food, and sundries.

Tickets from AeroMexico for flights between Mexico City and Tuxtla Gutierrez must be purchased individually. Ticket prices may very depending on the date of purchase but will be approximately USD $300. To purchase ticket please contact travel agent Lauri Kercher at It’s Travel Time! – 816 632 0526 travelgrl81@hotmai.com.  Please have the following information available.

  • Date of Birth
  • Name listed on Passport
  • Passport Number
  • Expiration date of Passport (Must have at least 6 months remaining at time of trip.)
  • Credit Card

Once ticketing is complete, information concerning travel will be sent.

A date for a planning meeting will be set later.

Please see the preliminary itinerary of the pilgrimage. Housing will be dorm style – comfortable but basic.  Toilets and showers are private but in separate building. Transportation will be by bus and walking over rough terrain will be expected.

Registration, including a $200 deposit must be submitted no later than November 1, 2017.

Remainder of payment must be submitted by December 31, 2017.  No refunds can be offered after this date.    REGISTRATION FORM

We are excited to offer an opportunity to people to participate in this mission endeavor even if they are not able to travel. We are raising money to provide emotional & physical first aid kits for migrants and refugees who are traveling through Chiapas. Learn more about this project and how you can help!

For questions or more information, contact Larry Colvin at (630) 200-5364 or larry.ccma@sbcglobal.net

Read Elena's most recent article following recent earthquakes in Mexico. 

Flight Schedule

April 17
            St. Louis/Atlanta 6:30am – 8:34am, Delta
            Atlanta/Mexico City9:50 – 12:28pm, AeroMexico
            Mexico City/Tuxla Gutierrez 4:40pm – 6:20pm, AeroMexico

April 26
            Tuxla Gutiereez/Mexico City 9:18am – 11:10pm, AeroMexico
            Mexico City/Atlanta 3:35pm – 7:56pm, Delta
            Atlanta/St. Louis 10:30pm – 11:13pm, Delta

Great Day of Serving in Neosho

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Each year the Neosho Area Clergy Coalition sponsors a “Great Day of Serving” on the Sunday closest to September 11th.  The Day of Serving is a memorial for 9/11 that offers service and love as a response to the violence of that date.  This year’s Day was on September 10 and featured 15 faith organizations and over 350 volunteers doing service projects that varied from yard cleanup to minor home repairs to painting.  Because of the hundred year flood this past spring, the Neosho and Seneca area had quite a few projects that needed to be done. 

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First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Neosho is not only one of the original organizing churches, but one that has participated every year since the inception.  This year, working with Week of Compassion, FCC assisted three families in Neosho who were devastated by the flooding.  As part of the Day of Serving, the members of FCC undertook a project for one of those families – a single mom with children.  Her fence had fallen over from the flooding and was laying in sections in her backyard.  The group of seven worked hard and got the fence back up, so the back yard is enclosed again.  In total, FCC was part of a city wide group that did over forty work projects.  It was indeed a “Great Day of Serving.”

Story & photos courtesy of FCC pastor Rev. Al Gritten.

Encounter World Religions Centre - Discovery Week 2017

Community meal provided at the Sikh Temple after worship.

Community meal provided at the Sikh Temple after worship.

Thanks to Brian Carwana, Executive Director of the Encounter World Religions Centre, in Toronto, Canada and his staff, it was a lifetime experience for both of us.  Through the Discovery Week 2017 program, Rev. Sharon Taylor and I experienced the landscape of many world religions.  I feel like we have traveled through time and history of sacred places.  

 

Visit to the Buddhist Temple

Visit to the Buddhist Temple

 

Words cannot convey the depth of understanding we gained as we studied 11 of the major world religions, shared a meal with people of many different religious cultures, and observed and participated in the varied religious practices.  The leaders at each religious site received us graciously and spoke candidly about their practices and concerns.  We desired to understand their religion and they were grateful for the time, money and effort we spent in engaging in this undertaking.  Many times, we heard that their hope for these Encounters would be to create a more peaceful and kinder world. We went on this journey to meet face to face, but more importantly, we also met heart or heart.

 

Classroom at the University of Toronto. Note: Director Brian Carwana (pictured below) was the keynote speaker at last year's Persons in Ministry Retreat. This annual event occurs in partnership with the Missouri Mid-South Conference of the UCC, and is happening this year Sept. 18-20. 

Classroom at the University of Toronto.

Note: Director Brian Carwana (pictured below) was the keynote speaker at last year's Persons in Ministry Retreat. This annual event occurs in partnership with the Missouri Mid-South Conference of the UCC, and is happening this year Sept. 18-20. 

 

Has it changed me?  YES, and I am so grateful for my new perspective on global faith communities.  If you are interested in learning more, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Lisa Foglesong & Rev. Sharon Taylor
Eldon First Christian Church
Office:  573.680.4170

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Eleven Religions Studied:
Christianity
Islam
Hinduism
Buddhism
Native Spirituality
Taoism
Rastafari
Judaism
Sikhism
Zoroastrianism
WICCA

WGCC Members Partner with Community for Families with Young Children

In 2014 Webster Groves Christian Church (WGCC) began to work with HOPE Partnership, of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), to prayerfully discern the ways we could most faithfully understand and respond to God’s call to us as we continued to minister in the name of Jesus Christ in our western suburb of St. Louis.  Through the process with HOPE Partnership, which involved retreats, learning, discovery, and community engagement, we affirmed our commitment to serve our local community, and began to take steps to address the opportunity gap between white and African American students in our local school district.  We learned that our local school district had one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation, and we began to explore ways that we could partner with our neighbors to help address this problem.

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As we studied the issues and listened to community members, we saw that one important area for work and concern was early childhood.  When children and their families have access to important community resources like nutrition, health care, and high quality early childhood education, they are better prepared to begin to learn and thrive in school and beyond.  We began to meet and work with partner organizations, and initiated Project N.O.W. (Nutrition on Weekends) in coordination with a local Head Start preschool center, providing nutritious weekend meals and snacks for children and their families.  Members of WGCC also began reading in Head Start classrooms and providing once per month coffee for parents and grandparents as they dropped off their children at the center.

We also worked with community and school district leaders to form the Kirkwood Area Every Child Promise (KAEChP), a community-wide commitment to increasing access to nutrition, physical and mental health, high quality early childhood education, and general family wellbeing.

Through our participation in the National Benevolent Association’s (NBA) SENT Seminar and additional help from NBA, we formed this new not-for-profit community agency and began to use our building and grounds to better partner with and serve the needs of the people in our community with the fewest resources. Through this effort and with multiple community partners we have continued and strengthened Project N.O.W., and created “Promise Place,” a resource center where parents can find new infant and toddler clothes, diapers, and safety items like cribs and infant and toddler car seats.  KAEChP is now partnering with the Kirkwood School District and several area preschools to provide sliding-scale scholarships for children to attend high quality programs.  KAEChP partner schools have also agreed to participate in ongoing evaluation, professional development, and continuing focus on KAEChP’s family wellbeing goals.  KAEChP and its community partners have provided free dental screenings for the entire school district and community preschool families; begun multi-cultural book and reading programs; helped to strengthen connections between families and the Parents as Teachers program (Parents as Teachers is now using space at WGCC for developmental screenings, meetings, and programs); and established a growing network of concerned parents and community members who are committed to the wellbeing and success of every child in the area served by the Kirkwood School District.  WGCC has dedicated additional space for future low cost, high quality day care and preschool classrooms.

KAEChP has raised $75,000.00 in its first few months, and continues to reach out to community members and businesses to build support for its mission:

The Promise: Every child and family are prepared for success as they enter kindergarten.

Our community will…

  • Foster quality early childhood experiences for all children and families by providing supportive partnerships and financial resources.
  • Ensure the health and mental health of all children and families by addressing barriers to access.
  • Create systems to support the basic needs of children and families.
  • Engage in activities, practices, and networks to promote the efforts of KAEChP.

On October 2nd Webster Groves Christian Church will be co-hosting a golf tournament fundraiser in support for KAEChP. 
Watch their promotional video!

We are excited about the possibilities and partnerships we have been encountering as we have worked to answer God’s call to serve our community, and we look forward to building and strengthening new relationships and programs to equip our families with young children for wellbeing.

Story by WGCC pastor Rev. Dr. Jeff Moore.
Editor's note: The NBA Mission & Ministry Grant Program
is currently accepting grant applications
to support programs for at-risk children.

FCC Cameron Mission News

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The Cameron Ministerial Alliance coordinates the Back Pack Buddies program through the Cameron School District and for the 2017-18 school year the goal is to provide week-end meals for 175 children. The cost of the program is $150 per child per year for a total fundraising goal of $26,250. First Christian Church in Cameron recently donated $7,013 to the Ministerial Alliance for the Back Pack Buddies program. This gift will sponsor meals for over 46 children this school year.  The offering from our Vacation Bible School (VBS) was over $300 which provided meals for two children. It is so wonderful to witness children helping other children through our VBS offering.  

For more information on the Back Pack Buddies Program go to  https://www.ourcommunityfoodbank.org/initiatives/nourishing-children/

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Each Month the Cameron Food Pantry provides over and average of 11,000 pounds of food to 150 or more local families. Many members of the Cameron First Christian Church work at the food pantry each week and recently the congregation provided over 200 pounds of food the Pantry. The Congregation collects non perishable foods throughout the year for the help the hungry in our community.

On Saturday, September 9th the Christian Men's Fellowship will host their annual Fish Fry. Join us from 4-7 p.m. for great food and fellowship at Cameron First Christian Church. All of the proceeds are used to support the men's mission and outreach projects. Please see the attached flyer.

Thanks to pastor Russ Hamilton for
sharing these stories and photos.

Ozark CC Mission Trip to Mission Arlington - Love God, Love People

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The 2017 Ozark Christian Church mission trip is in the books and no one will ever be the same again.  OCC sent 11 people in 3 vehicles, 1200 miles (round trip) for 5 days of work with Mission Arlington in Arlington, Texas.  The group had one focus community in Fort Worth to work with, and saw about 30 kids (preschoolers to teens) attend a Bible Study and/or Rainbow Express (Mission Arlington’s VBS for the communities they serve) during the 5 days. 

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Comfort zones were stretched repeatedly during the trip for both the community kids and the OCC group members, yet there couldn’t have been a better way to grow.   Many seeds were planted during the days spent in the community, with some of those seeds being harvested (7 kids and 3 adults committed their lives to Jesus during the week) and some of those seeds left to grow and develop with continued prayers from the OCC family.  Many lessons were learned by the OCC team, both serious (your testimony can have a huge impact on someone’s life, if you only share it) and funny (when all else fails, try chicken McNuggets). 

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While the work with the kids took center stage every afternoon, and in evening discussions, the team also did morning service projects, including passing out Rainbow Express fliers in communities, picking up donated furniture and clothing, delivering furniture to individuals and a community in need, and sorting clothes in Mission Arlington’s donation room.  The OCC group was fed spiritually with morning and afternoon worship services each day, which included uplifting music and meaningful messages about the work being performed.  They were also left in awe over Tillie Burgin, Mission Arlington’s founder, and the faithful way the organization goes about serving those in need.

The group experienced many blessings during the week, including getting assigned a 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment for 11 people (as opposed to 1 bathroom), located very close to Mission Arlington.  There were small blessings (finding lost car keys) and big blessings (2 days of making real connections with the kids after 2 days of near total chaos).  These blessings were no doubt a result of the faithful prayers of OCC family back in Ozark.

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Nothing that happened during the week would have been possible without the love and support of the OCC membership.  From the funds raised, to the supplies donated, to the prayers said, everyone became a part of this mission trip whether you were in Arlington sweating in the heat or back in Ozark in a comfy and cool home.  “Love God, Love People” is something everyone at OCC does very well, regardless of their location.  It was a privilege the mission trip team will not forget, to take that message to the Fort Worth community they served and to the people of Mission Arlington.

Story & photo submitted by Marna Strahl.

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 www.decyclesindiana.org.

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