Ozark CC Works at Freedom's Rest

The loving arms, hands and feet of Ozark Christian Church were out in force on June 10, when ten volunteers showed up at Freedom’s Rest (Christian County Family Crisis Center) to help spruce things up.  The group gave up their Saturday morning and part of their afternoon to clean and organize the kitchen and toy/play room, mow and weed eat the grounds, remove non-working large appliances, fix bikes, stain a wooden swing set and paint a child’s picnic table. 

 

 

The group was joined in their efforts by the Volunteer Coordinator at Freedom’s Rest, as well as a few residents that wanted to help.   The work was not too difficult, and even though the temperatures were warming up, it was the hearts of those involved that were warmed the most.  One resident even delivered a handwritten thank you note to the group before the day was over.  Don’t ever underestimate what you and your church can do to touch other people’s lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Story & photos courtesy of OCC's Marna Strahl. 

Fresh Winds at FCC in Rock Port

First Christian Church in Rock Port celebrated Pentecost by breaking ground for a new community center. The project has been in the planning stages for several years. FCC pastor, Rev. Rodney Hopper, stated that a dream is coming true because the congregation was willing to trust in God's Spirit and shake off doubt. The center will be an all-purpose building that will give more space to the congregation for meals and special occasions. The center will be open to the whole of Rock Port and surrounding area. In fact as part of the planning the church has been asking the community what is needed that is not already being done?

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Dr. Larry Colvin, Regional Minister Team member preached and turned the first spade of earth. Pastor Hopper turned the second shovel-full. This was followed by several others turning soil and sharing their hopes and dreams. The day was hot, the ground was hard and dry, but the building, with God's help, has begun.

 

Story by Dr. Larry Colvin
Photos by Debbie Colvin

Training Time for New Beginnings Congregations

On Saturday, May 20 persons from three congregations met in Chillicothe to take part in a training as part of Hope Partnership's New Beginnings. Taking part were members of First Christian Church - Cameron, First Christian Church - Centralia, and First Christian Church - Chillicothe. First Christian Church in Republic are also participating in New Beginnings.

New Beginnings works with congregations to help them discern where God may be leading them into the future. It is not a set program, but a process whereby the congregants enter into conversation with one another and with God. It is a time of trusting one's faith. There are four major parts to New Beginnings, 1) Assessing, 2) Training (the focus of this gathering), 3) Discerning through house meetings, and 4) Deciding the way forward.

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Gilberto Callazo, President of Hope Partnership, led the training of those who will return to their churches and facilitate house meetings for discernment. President Callazo shared with the gathered that it is time to shift our thinking about long held assumptions. Congregations need to shift from making members to creating discipleship, from being about faith to transformation through faith, and from maintenance to preparing missionaries. He noted churches must know "why" they are doing what they are doing. Churches that are thriving (not necessarily in growing numbers) are relevant to their community, and have a passion for active mission with it, because of their identity with the mission of Jesus Christ.

Story and photos courtesy of Regional Minister
Team member Rev. Dr. Larry Colvin.

Mission: Kitchen Remodel

On Saturday, May 6th a team from First Christian Church in Edwardsville, IL remodeled the kitchen at the Good Samaritan House, a local shelter for women and children. The team is thankful that local vendors either donated or discounted the materials and professional labor such as plumbing.  After much advance coordination, the team accomplished the following in a one day remodel:  

  • New granite countertop and new faucets installed
  • New electric range installed
  • Florescent bulbs replaced
  • Painted the kitchen
  • Cleaned/organized the cabinets
  • Provided 2 new storage cabinets and new microwave cart
  • Installed new shower heads in each bathroom and new bath mats 

Pictures of this and other Mission Events:  fccedwardsville.org/connect/service

Story and photo courtesy of pastor James Brooks.

Studying "Beyond Resistance" in Bowling Green

Rev. Bruce Moeller, Transitional Pastor of FCC-Bowling Green is using the book, Beyond Resistance: The Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World by Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer to help the congregation in their interim discernment.  First Christian has appreciated that their adult Sunday school hour uses thought-provoking, theologically challenging, and timely material to help them grow in their faith and to help prepare them to be a stronger church for the future.  A large attendance each week bears this out.  This provides evidence that all congregations should not shy away from studies that don't just primarily reaffirm a comforting faith - and to have small group studies in the first place.  There is much hunger to learn no matter the size of the church or the community.

Discussions recently include reflection on the following statements:

  • "Postmoderns are highly suspect of organizations that want to justify their existence by condemning others."
  • "Postmoderns don't buy into the concept of 'joining' or becoming a 'member' of any organization."
  • "Postmoderns are samplers.  They want experiences that take them out of comfort zones, that expand world views, and that enrich lives."
  • "'Post-Christian' is not 'anti-Christian.'"

Dr. Dorhauer, a close friend of Rev. Moeller, is General Minister & President of the United Church of Christ and was formerly the St. Louis Association Minister of the Missouri Mid-South Conference

Dick Hamm, our former GMP, has written that the Postmodern era began when the modern era ended in 1968!  How "modern" are you and your church?

Story and photo courtesy of
Regional Minister Team Member Rev. Dr. Paul Koch.

New Beginnings for Four Congregations

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Four congregations, First Christian Church - Cameron, First Christian Church - Centralia, First Christian Church - Chillicothe, and First Christian Church - Republic, have accepted the opportunity from CCMA to participate in the Hope Partnership New Beginnings program. Each submitted its application to take part in the process and the last week of April each congregation took part in an assessment.

Assessors met for a full day with each church. During the morning and afternoon there were conversations with the pastor, board chairperson, and financial leaders. In the afternoon the pastor, church leaders, and Regional Minister Team member embarked on a tour of the community. In the evening an evaluation and discussion time was held with members of the congregation. The assessors will now prepare a report to each congregation of how they evaluate what they learned. In addition, they will share four future stories of what the congregation may look like in five years if it chooses to take action in one of several options. The purpose of this is to help congregation have some ideas of its gifts and how God may be calling them to use those gifts. Each congregation is challenged to take a BOLD action or leap of faith. The decision is the congregation's, not a plan laid down by Hope Partnership.

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In May leaders from each congregation will take part in a leadership training day. This will equip the pastors and leaders with the skills they will need in the coming year to move the congregation in its chosen bold action and to help sustain it as it moves toward its future. Personnel from Hope Partnership will remain available to assist if needed. but the decisions and actions of New Beginnings is the congregation's responsibility.

Story and photos courtesy of Rev. Dr. Larry Colvin.

FCC in Jefferson City Awarded Vital Worship Grant

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship at Calvin College has awarded First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Jefferson City a Vital Worship Grant for 2017-2018. The grant will provide resources to the congregation for equipping leaders in the proclaiming of scripture, giving of testimony, singing of music, celebrating communion, and offering of prayer all in the context of worship.

“Worship is about turning away from ourselves and towards God,” said Rev. Beau Underwood, senior minister of the church. “This generous grant allows us to focus on the ways we collectively look to God in praise and prayer, in word and song, in reflection and celebration.”

Christian leaders in each of these areas will be invited to preach and teach at First Christian over the life of the grant. Church members will then be encouraged to use what they learn from the speakers to enhance the worship life of the congregation.

“We are excited to learn from leaders who devote their lives and their ministry to helping Christians offer worship that glorifies God,” added Sherry Jordan, worship committee chair at First Christian. “These speakers will be a rich blessing to our congregation.”

The award is one of 33 grants made this year by the Institute. The grants program aims to help Christian communities connect public worship to the formation of faith and the deepening of discipleship.

Kathy Smith, the director of the Vital Worship Grants Program, said “These collaborative projects bring people together to study, plan and create, foster new learning and nourish intergenerational community in worship.”

First Christian Church plans to share more details once speakers are confirmed in the hopes that others in the community might also attend and benefit from the wisdom they will share.

Congratulations to the church and thanks to
Beau Underwood for sharing this press release.

Interactive Ash Wednesday and Lent at New Harmony CC

New Harmony Christian Church in Curryville has been observing Lent with activities for everyone. Ash Wednesday began with a very special service known as “Come … Be Still … Experience … and Know … Repent and Live”. 

This service was comprised of times of prayer, silence, meditative readings in scripture, music played to hear and embrace what was happening in that moment, and hands-on experiences so that the flock could revisit their personal time and relationship with God.   

There were stations set up for folk to move around freely at their own pace and in their own time to experience. Read Pastor Laura Beth Zeh's complete description of the stations.

During each Sunday's worship service throughout Lent, all were invited to spend some of the time coloring the large Stations of the Cross posters that will be presented at the Easter sunrise service.

Story and photos courtesy of
Pastor Laura Beth Zeh.

Restoration Christian Community Church

We are glad to welcome to Mid-America Restoration Christian Community Church (Disciples of Christ)! This congregation was formed after a recent merger between First Christian Community Church of Centreville, Illinois and Restoration Church. Restoration Church, which had been previously non-denominational, had been holding services at FCCC prior to the merger. After much prayer and guidance, the two congregations decided to merge and form a new fellowship under the leadership of Pastor Charlie R Blackmon II. Pastor Blackmon is in conversation with our Commissioning Ministry Team regarding the Disciples ministerial commissioning process. The action was affirmed by the Regional board at their recent meeting.

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The newly merged congregation recently held a baptismal service and fellowship dinner with Crossroads Christian Church in Caseyville, IL where Rev. La'Vetta Ross-Hall is Pastor. Nine souls were baptized! Pastor Blackmon states that the mission and vision of RCCC are based upon Isaiah 58:12 “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in." The Church’s motto is Reclaim, Restore and Renew.

 

 

Thanks to Pastor Blackmon for this story and photos.
Welcome to Mid-America!

Lenten Activities at St. Charles Christian Church

At St. Charles Christian Church Lent has included Wednesday evening Soup & Service events. Members and friends gather for a meal, fellowship, and service projects.  The first Wednesday included working at the New Hope Food Pantry. The next gathering featured a speaker from Habitat for Humanity of St. Charles County.

Most recently the group assembled Blessing Bags. The reusable nylon bags contain a variety of small food, hygiene, and comfort items, as well as cards reading "YOU MATTER" and letting the recipient know that people are praying for them. The bags were filled, put on the altar, and blessed, now ready for anyone to take and keep in the car for those times when a homeless person asking for help is encountered. 

Tonight will feature a speaker from Connections to Success and making fishing kits for Operation Christmas Child. Finally, next Wednesday will include preparations for the Good Friday Stations of the Cross event, organized by Worship Team chair Kathy Johnson and the team. This event will be an interactive Lenten experience through New Town followed by a worship service at 7:00 p.m. at The Bridge Coffeehouse. It will be open to the public and all are most welcome!

Thanks to church secretary Sherry Everett for
gathering and sending this information.

Kris Milliron Represents CCMA at Youth Ministry Conferences

This past week, Kris Milliron of Marshall First Christian Church attended two youth ministry conferences in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

First was the DYMN/DHM Youth Ministry Summit at Christmount Conference Center.  Disciples Youth Ministry Network (DYMN) and Disciples Home Missions (DHM) partnered to host this event, where Disciples Youth Workers from across North America joined together to re-envision the future of DOC youth ministry.  As it has been over 20 years since the last youth ministry definitions were presented before the General Church, the group came together to redefine priorities for the future of Youth Ministry, including:

  • The need for youth to have a voice and a place at the General level of church
  • Intentional Inter-generational focus and relationships in and throughout the church; authentic mentoring across all cultures and ages
  • Innovative and resourceful technology
  • Worship that engages all, welcomes all, and provides a space for all at the Table
  • Youth integrated into every piece of ministry, and the need to take youth seriously
  • Missions that are less project and more long term, less charitable and more justice focused
  • Diversity. Diversity. Diversity.
  • A growing relationship with UCC
  • Youth need training and leadership opportunities in making wise, ethical, moral and responsible decisions and actions.
  • General and regional churches need to again become relevant to the local church
  • Prioritize youth in the wider and local church.
  • We need each other!  Youth leaders need each other, the church needs youth, the youth needs church, etc.
  • There is limited opportunity for youth leaders to be in conversation together
  • There are clear and defined silos and disconnect that need to be identified and broken, especially among institutions and constituencies
  • Being flexible to the messiness of change and innovation

This Summit was extremely successful, allowing a diverse blend of youth workers the opportunity to brainstorm and work together with one purpose, in addition to networking, connecting, sharing resources, and enjoying Sabbath time.

Following the DYMN/DHM Summit, Kris and many of the other DOC Youth Leaders drove just down the road to Montreat Conference Center to attend the Progressive Youth Ministry Conference.  Over 250 persons in youth ministry from around the world (Australia was represented!) converged to network and share inspiration, resources, curriculum, ideas, and much, much more.  In addition, there were three renowned keynote speakers, two worship services filled with beautiful music and inspirational messages, and three sessions of over 20 seminars to choose from.  The knowledge gained from the collective experts and educators was invaluable; participants returned to their respective churches and youth renewed, rejuvenated and reignited to share all that was learned and gained from this diverse range of expertise.

Kris would like to express her gratitude to both her home church in Marshall for their prayerful and financial support, and to the Mid-America Leadership Development Team that awarded her a grant to offset conference fees. (Learn more about leadership grants.)

Thanks to Kris for representing CCMA at these conferences, for sharing
her experience, and for her continued dedication to our collective youth ministries.

FCC Edwardsville Mission Trip to KC

The youth group and adult sponsors from First Christian Church of Edwardsville, IL recently returned from a mission trip to Kansas City Metro.  The thirty-five who went on the trip were graciously hosted by St. Andrews Christian Church in Olathe, KS.  

 

By taking our youth group to another geographical area for these service projects, it gives them an opportunity to escape their routines that can often hinder the ability to expand their view of the world.  Working together as a team helped them to gain an understanding of what it means to come together as a community while helping those who need assistance.

The youth participated in a variety of different service projects at four separate organizations while in KC: Community Linc, Urban Christian Academy, KIPP, and ReStart.  Half of the youth group spent the day cleaning classrooms, painting walls, washing buses and assembling classroom furniture.  The other half spent the day cleaning transitional apartments, tearing down plaster walls, and furnishing them for guests who would soon be accepted into the program.  We were also blessed to prepare and serve dinner for over 200 residents at a transitional homeless shelter.  In addition to serving others, the group went ice skating, sampled some KC BBQ, and visited both the National World War I Museum and the Hallmark Visitor's Center.  

Sunday, February 26 during both worship services, each of the six members of the youth council shared their reflections on the mission trip with the congregation.  It was a joy to hear the similar and the unique ways that we encountered the living God while growing together in our faith community.  

We are grateful to receive support from our congregation as well as all of those who organize and attend our annual Jack H. Enloe youth scholarship golf scramble and our annual youth trivia night fundraiser.  God is great!  

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

Souper Bowl of Caring at FCC Poplar Bluff

The First Christian Church, Poplar Bluff First Sunday Brunch was a Souper Bowl of Caring soup and chili cook off to benefit the local food pantry.

Nine members brought their favorite, soup, chili, stew and chowder for the competition. During the brunch, church members sampled and then voted by placing a dollar or more in a bowl indicating their choice of best soup or chili. The winner was voted Souper Bowl of Caring Champion 2017 and was given a traveling trophy.

This was in conjunction with the national campaign Souper Bowl of Caring which utilizes the Super Bowl weekend in America to mobilize people to fight hunger and poverty in their local community. One hundred percent of the $222 collected was given to the St. Vincent DePaul food pantry in Poplar Bluff.

L-R Jan Duffy, Outreach Chair, Pastor Frank Chlastak,Gail Doss, Kathy Richardson

The first place winner and 2017 Souper Bowl of Caring Champion was Rev. Frank J. Chlastak, with his winning entry of Commonwealth of Virginia  Brunswick Stew. In second place was Gail Doss with her Vegetable and Beef Soup. Coming in third place was Kathy Richardson with her entry of Cajun Crawfish Chowder.

“Awesome soup and chili and a time of fellowship was had by all. The real winner of the Souper Bowl of Caring was our local food pantry and those in need of good quality food.”

Thanks to pastor Frank Chlastak for this story and photos.

 

Congratulations, John Bennett!

Rev. Dr. John Bennett was given a surprise honor at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. service held at Second Baptist Church in Jefferson City on Sunday, January 22.  After John's remarkable sermon that he gave to the crowd, pastor Rev. Cornell C. Sudduth, Sr. gave these remarks: "For his tireless life-long devotion to peace and justice, and most recently for his sacrificial act of civil-disobedience fighting for Medicaid expansion in Missouri as part of the "Medicaid 23" Rev. Dr. John Bennett has been awarded the first ever distinction of being "A Drum Major for Justice" - bestowed by SBC."  

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Bennett said he had nothing to say except that he was about to cry.  Dr. Paul Koch, RMT and Rev. Beau Underwood, pastor of FCC-Jefferson were proud to represent the region to acknowledge John's honor.

Left to right: Rev. Dr. Rodney E. Williams, Rev. Dr. John Bennett, Rev. W. T. Edmondson.

Note: Original caption excluded Rev. Edmondson and included Rev. Sudduth in the photo in error.

Day of Mission and Service in Poplar Bluff

On Sunday, January 15th the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Poplar Bluff hosted our city, county and state police, fire fighters, and Emergency Medical Service Technicians for a “Thank You lunch.”

The Outreach Committee of the church and volunteers hosted  what was called a Day of Mission and Service. There were over 60 served.

 

        

In addition the church members served each table guest  and were hosts for the tables. Carryouts were provided for those officers and staff  and city employees who were on duty. Members also delivered meals to church members who were at home and could not attend.

The church members wanted to say “Thank you to these often unrecognized heroes of our community for their long hours of work and for their devoted service to our community.” The menu was Spaghetti, Salad, French bread, and Dessert.

Several members and children provided entertainment. Family members and guests were also invited to the lunch. The leftovers from the meal were given to the Haven House of Poplar Bluff. Haven House is a non-profit organization comprised of citizens committed to ending domestic violence in Southeast Missouri.

Thanks to FCC pastor Rev. Frank Chlastak for the story and photos.

Rickman Legacy Lives on in Leadership Development Grants

The Mid-America Region has leadership development funds available and all ministers are invited to apply!

This opportunity is a very positive outcome of the difficult decision to sell Rickman Center back in 2015. After the sale, one million dollars was invested as the Rickman Legacy Fund with the Christian Church Foundation. Twenty-five percent of the annual distribution from that amount is designated for leadership development. ( 75% is designated for outdoor ministries. Find more detail about the sale in the September 23, 2015 letter from then-Moderator Guy Adams here.)

“Leadership Development supports and nurtures Mid-America Disciples leaders by providing and promoting resources, events, grants, training, and retreats to increase congregational identity, connection, and vitality toward fulfilling our mutual mission and ministry.”

Grant applications are are reviewed four times per year with deadlines on December 1, February 1, May 1, and August 1.

The first grants were awarded last fall. Alex Ruth of Marshfield CC received a grant to continue his mentoring in iPEC's Coach Training Program. Kris Milliron of FCC Marshall received a grant to attend the Disciples Youth Ministry Network and Progressive Youth Ministry Conferences in North Carolina in March. In addition to these two grants, several pastors received funds to attend the annual Persons in Ministry Retreat, held with our United Church of Christ partners in ministry. 

Applications are now being accepted for the February 1st review date. For this quarter the committee is especially encouraging endeavors involving Lenten worship and study.

Find more information about leadership development grants and the application here.
Learn more about other grant and scholarship opportunities here

One Pastor's Experience at Standing Rock

Rev. Colin Douglas, pastor at Nixa Christian Church, traveled to North Dakota to participate in the protest at Standing Rock last fall. He says, "We were charged with standing against the Doctrine of Discovery, and doing so Prayerfully, Peacefully, Nonviolently, and Lawfully." 

 

One focus during his time there was, "speakers who imparted on us the importance of what we were doing, what it meant as far as the legends of their people, and how important is was for people to learn to forgive one another, that while the world has a lot of hatred we need to learn to love." 

 

Read his whole report here. See more information and photos here.

 

Christmas Tableau at Wyatt Park CC

Wyatt Park Christian Church (St. Joseph) presented its 26th annual Christmas Tableau drive-thru living nativity December 9-10, 6:30-8:30PM. Ten scenes depicted the story of the birth of Jesus beginning with a prophet of old, and ending with two families: a peasant family in Jesus' day and a modern family, both touched by the story of our Savior's birth. In between were scenes depicting visits by angels, Caesar, shepherds, the inn, and of course, the stable.

There were live animals along with dozens of people in costume and many more people working behind the scenes. As cars entered, they were given a CD that features a reading of the Scripture passage depicted in each scene. Hundreds of people came through Tableau each evening, and the living nativity had to be extended almost 30 minutes beyond the advertised closing time both nights to accommodate the crowd.

Story and photos courtesy of pastor Scott Killgore.

New Men's Group in Troy

First Christian Church, 1302 Boone Street in Troy, began a new Men’s Program on Saturday, October 15th. The new group, established for men who have a love of antique/classic cars, trucks, and bikes, met for its first Car Cruise, with a terrific outing to Bowling Green, MO where they stopped an enjoyed lunch and fellowship together. They then returned to Troy down through Clarksville, along Route 79. The group made the decision that their new name will be “Boyz and Toyz” and George Tucker will be drawing up a logo for them. Additionally, they will be meeting at least quarterly, and will plan some field trips, parade/car show outings, and other car cruises, when the weather permits. The group is open to the public, and already there has been interest shown from those in the area. Contact the church at (636) 528-7322 for more information about future meetings.