St. Louis Racial Justice Group Update

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Last Friday, September 15th, former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty of the 2011 murder of Anthony Lamar Smith. Since then there have been daily demonstrations around town calling attention to the ongoing reality that the killing of black and brown skinned children of God is viewed by our society and by our criminal justice system far differently than the killing of their white counterparts. 

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Our St. Louis Racial Justice Group has been involved in these demonstrations and is continuously working for the day when such a group is not necessary. Until then, they will protest injustice, promote awareness, exemplify peace, and engage policymakers. Led by the National Benevolent Association's Organizing Specialist Rev. Dr. Dietra Wise Baker, the group includes:
Rev. Derrick Perkins, Centennial Christian Church
Rev. Margie Pride, Memorial Boulevard Christian Church
Rev. Dr. Jeff Moore, Webster Groves Christian Church
Rev. Dr. Paul Koch, Regional Minister Team
Rev. Dr. Jacque Foster, Compton Heights Christian Church
Rev. Dr. Suzanne Webb, recently retired from Union Avenue Christian Church

Their recent action is summarized in this reflection by Rev. Dr. Jacque Foster. For more information, including how to receive regular updates, refer to their 9/18 email communication.

 

 

Next Wednesday, September 27th, our General Minister and President Rev. Terri Hord Owens and our Reconciliation Minister Rev. April Johnson will join us for an evening of processing and planning and this ministry continues. All are welcome to join them at Centennial Christian Church for dinner, dialogue, and direction. Learn more and register here.

 

Rev. Cindy Molini Installed

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On September 17 Rev. Cindy Molini was installed as pastor of the Lawson Christian Presbyterian Church in Lawson. Dr. Larry Colvin of the Regional Minister Team - CCMA and Dr. Ron Galvin of the Heartland Presbytery co-celebrated the installation. Although the day was gloomy and foggy outside, worship was spiritually charged. A vocal soloist and violin solo helped add to the joy of the day.

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Cindy's spiritual journey has taken her on many paths which include her Catholic upbringing and through the American Baptist. Her theological education has also been quite ecumenical. She and her husband Bill live on a farm outside Excelsior Springs.

Following worship, a festive lunch was served. The beginning plans to celebrate the church's 50 years as a united church in 2018 were begun. 

Article by Dr. Larry Colvin, Photos by Deborah Colvin

Hurricane Relief - What Can We Do?

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have left major destruction in their wake and now Hurricane Jose threatens the Caribbean and possibly southern US. We offer our prayers to the thousands who suffer the death and injury of loved ones. We offer hope for the lives that will continue to be disrupted for months and perhaps years to come.

 

 

Prayer is needed and is powerful. Yet many of us are eager to find other ways to bring relief to our suffering human family in the Caribbean and southern United States. Here is great news.  Our financial support and partnerships with both Week of Compassion and Church World Service means, we are already there and have been from the beginning! These agencies have been hard at work with other first responders providing shelter, health needs, water, and food. While there is eagerness to send clothes, or organize a work trip, we need to be patient.

Week of Compassion, on its website states, “For those who are anxious to ‘go help,’ remember it will be a while before these devastated neighborhoods are ready to host you. If you want to put you muscle to work, Week of Compassion and Disciples Volunteering have plenty of locations where work continues to rebuild from previous disasters in New Orleans, southern Missouri, Florida and elsewhere.” To know what and when to be of help following these hurricanes, continue to read the weekly CCMA news Update or consult the Week of Compassion website. You may also wish to provide financial contributions to Week of Compassion designated to hurricane relief. One-hundred percent of your designated gift will be used for direct relief. There are many ways your financial gift will assist well beyond its immediate use.

Here is an example. Because of your financial support, large quantities of water can be purchased in the local site through negotiating at lower prices. This allows more persons to receive water. It also helps a local business recover and be able to serve its community again which will provide other goods in the area. Your gift, which purchased water, now is part of the community’s economic re-development.

You may also lend support through Church World Service. You may provide hygiene kits, school kits, or clean up buckets. Simply visit the CWS website to find what items are needed and create the kits. Then either send them to the designated location or bring them to our Regional Gathering/Festival of Sharing next month! Or, you may donate the cost of kits. Yet another way to help is to donate for the cost of CWS blankets.

When the time comes to organize work trips, send us the information about the trip. In our newsletter and on our website, we can share details throughout the Region so others may support your trip with in-kind assistance, financial needs, or volunteering their skills.

Submitted by Rev. Dr. Larry Colvin,
Regional Minister Team member.
Find Week of Compassion's most recent update on hurricane relief here.

Prophetic Words about Charlottesville

From time to time, we on the regional minister team have been encouraged by you to offer pastoral or prophetic words.  Of course, many of the most egregious situations on our national communal landscape can leave us utterly speechless!  This is true for me regarding the events and responses involving what happened in Charlottesville over this past weekend.  I’d like to share a message written by Rev. Dr. Jeff Moore of Webster Groves CC, who was present in Charlottesville. He participated in the protests as part of a group of clergy providing a prayerful witness against hatred and demonstrating God’s love for all. As we are all church together, I am also grateful for and offer you prayers that were spoken from pulpits in our region on Sunday.  Please click the links for a sampling from Rev. Loy Hoskins of FCC in Marshall, Rev. Nick Larson of Broadway CC in Columbia, our Minister of Reconciliation Rev. April Johnson, and our General Minister and President, Rev. Teresa Hord Owens. Some of our partner organizations including the United Church of Christ, Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis, and the National Council of Churches have also issued statements. 

I am utterly grateful that these prayers have stirred my consciousness.  I am equally grateful that our Mid-America Region has been proactive rather than merely reactive in response. Our daily work, week in and week out, has been working toward pro-reconciliation and anti-racism together.  Long before white nationalists organized a march in Charlottesville, your PRAR team has been working toward healing our divisions with a message of inclusion and acceptance.  Long before we realized as pastors that we needed to collaborate and join together to discuss how we can effectively minister in turbulent times, your colleagues have been working on our Persons in Ministry retreat for this September.

I believe Jesus' most prophetic words were contained in what we read as a four-word response when he was challenged, "Go and do likewise."  Luke 10:37 For pastors and others wanting a prophetic, pastoral conversations on where to turn next, Go! and take advantage of what is offered now.  Our two upcoming PRAR trainings will include conversations about Charlottesville.  Our Persons in Ministry Retreat is aptly titled, "Pastoral, Prophetic, Perturbed: Ministry in Turbulent Times."  Your loss and emptiness, "your grain houses" will become full by wrestling with biblical texts among colleagues and hearing prophetic words from Dr. John Thomas, our PIM keynote speaker.  Remember, financial assistance is available for both!  Here are the links to register and find out more:    PRAR training     PiM Retreat

Trying to do likewise,
Paul Koch, RMT

Additional statements added since original publication:
Broadway Christian Church
Video statement by General Minister & President Rev. Terri Hord Owen

Board Calls Regional Minister Team Members

On Saturday, August 12th the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Mid-America Board met at First Christian Church in Columbia. Part of the business of the day was to receive the reports and recommendations of the two search committees that had been working towards filling two upcoming vacancies on our Regional Minister Team. Rev. Dr. G. Mike Weinman (Southwest office) will be retiring in January 2018 and Rev. Dr. Paul Koch (Northeast office) concludes his time as Transitional Regional Minister Team member at the end of this year.

Rev. Katrina Palan has been called to serve in the Southwest office. She is currently serving as the Interim Regional Minister in the Disciples of Christ in Nebraska and brings a wealth of interim, 'settled', and chaplaincy experience. The search committee's decision was based on her "background of education, training, work experience, participation in ecumenical activities, the follow-up phone calls, and her sincere response to the various questions that were presented to her during the interview process." Read their whole report here.

Rev. Dr. Paul Koch has been called to serve in the Northeast office, now in the capacity of 'settled' Team member. Before his time as Transitional Regional Minister Team member began in 2016, he served a number of churches in Missouri, Alabama, and Iowa, as well as an Interfaith Mission organization. He is passionate about outdoor, youth, and men's ministries. Read the search committee's report here.

The board unanimously approved the two recommendations. Both have been called and will begin on January 1, 2018. Please plan to come and visit with them at our Regional Gathering as both will be joining us in Sedalia on October 20 & 21.

CCMA Turning 200!

Our Regional Gathering in Sedalia, October 20-21 kicks off a celebration of the bicentennial of Disciples coming together to be church in Mid-America - with the founding of the Salt Creek Christian Church in Howard County in 1817.  We hope to continue celebrating clear through Missouri's bicentennial in 2021.

We honor this time of anniversary to reach out to others outside our denominational walls and use history to emphasize the special things we are.  In a time when many are turned off and turned away from “church” by creeds, rules, doctrines, judgments, and narrowness, we have a heritage of openness that is inviting.  Two hundred years of being who we are is worth talking about and worth taking beyond our walls.

Bob Priddy, a renowned Missouri broadcaster, historian, and member of FCC-Jefferson City joins others to give us perspectives on where we came, who we are, and where we are headed. Five years ago he was asked to deliver a sermon and spoke in the person of Alexander Campbell.  He concluded this way: 

Bear with me for a few more minutes while I explain the greatest strength of our message to those who say we offer no answers for a people desperate for them.    

            There might never have been a more free time or place in all of our nation’s history than at the turn of the 19th century in the area between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi, the area and the time when our denomination was born. 

            The people who flowed into that area were free of the British crown and its church.  They were free of the official churches of the colonies on the seaboard.  It was a new area. It was a new era for living and for thinking. People had not come to this area for religious reasons.  They had come with a spirit of adventure, a spirit of hope, and hope for an opportunity to build a better life. 

            In the east, doctrines separated people.  On the frontier, distance, danger, and loneliness erased structures that separated people from one another.  Differences, including those based on denominational doctrine, were eliminated by the necessity for survival.

            The great revivals that began a few years before I arrived increased church membership.  But to the degree that they relied on emotionalism and tried to re-create doctrinal differences, they brought more divisions within and between denominations.  Some ministers such as Brother Stone and my father got into trouble, not because of how they taught the Bible but because they acted and taught contrary to the creeds of the church which acted to exclude, not include, those who had the freedom on the frontier to formulate their own understandings of God’s word.  Many people who were experiencing the freedom of the frontier grew uncomfortable being judged on the basis of their adherence to a man-made creed rather than on their Scripture-based personal faith. 

            It was that climate that led my father to begin the Declaration and Address more than 200 years ago, “From the series of events which have taken place in the churches for many years past, especially in this Western country, as well as from what we know in general of the present state of things in the Christian world, we are persuaded that it is high time for us not only to think, but also to act, for ourselves; to see with our own eyes, and to take all our measures directly and immediately from the Divine standard; to this alone we feel ourselves Divinely bound to be conformed, as by this alone, we must be judged.” 

            In a nation that has proclaimed Freedom of Religion as one of its undeniable rights and virtues, it was time in 1809 to reject limits on religious freedom advocated by denominations themselves.  It was time to acknowledge that each Christian stands to be judged only on his relation to the Word of God, not the creeds of man. 

            To those who say we stand for nothing because we do not demand adherence to statements or orders that would forever keep us three feet long, let us answer that we stand for that most basic desire of all people----to be free to use the mind God has given each of us to understand the mind of God.   

            It is that freedom that strives to create the Church of Christ upon earth (that) is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one; consisting of all those in every place that profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him in all things according to the Scriptures.  

Stand for nothing?  

Hardly. Two hundred years ago, we established that we stand for the freedom of all believers to know God through GOD’s Word. 

That is our answer.  

That is our message.  

That is our past.

 That is our future.  

            I speak from your own past today and tell you to be as unafraid to proclaim that message as boldly and as faithfully in this day as we proclaimed it in the beginning.    Go forth to bring Christians to discipleship in Christ….and build the one Church of Christ upon earth. 

Submitted by Regional Minister Team member Paul Koch.

Christian Regional Youth Festival

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On July 17-20th, Mid-America youth and adults convened at Drury University in Springfield for the Christian Regional Youth (CRY) Festival.  Erin Reed-Cooper traveled from Atlanta, GA to deliver a keynote address focusing on the theme 'Finding God in the Highs & Lows', based on Romans 8:38-39.
 

 

Throughout the four days, in addition to the keynote address and family group discussion, participants attended workshops on subjects such as Biblical interpretation, racism, social justice, healthy lifestyle choices, Jesus, Islam, prayer and more.  For the second year, CRY attendees spent an afternoon of service in their host community; this year, they had the choice of painting and cleaning a early childhood learning center, repairing trails at a water conservation area, or writing letters to government officials.

 

 

According to many of the CRY ‘veterans’ present, this year’s festival was one of their most memorable events, one that they claim is historic in its sacredness, relational, and life-giving ministry.  Also historic was the diversity of those present.  The 2017 CRY family consisted of participants diverse in age, race, sexual orientation, biblical interpretation, culture, ethnicity, political inclination, economic circumstance, religion, culture, and faith.  There was a true representation of society.  Yet there was something…different.  Something that was odd, unfamiliar, that stood out in this small CRY society.  There was celebration.  Not in spite of the diversity, but because of it.  Instead of ignoring the differences, these differences were embraced and honored.

 

Heard repeatedly every year, is that CRY is the “Real World”.  CRY is “Home”.  In a very brief few days, each is sustained and fed enough to get through the remaining 360 days.  This may seem cynical to many, but it is just the opposite. At CRY is found unconditional love, laughter, support, forgiveness, freedom and grace.  At CRY is found what church seeks, strives to become, but sometimes fails. At CRY is found the Kingdom of God.

Officers for the coming year are President Brenen Sullivan of First Christian Church in Marshall, Vice President Khotso Moore of Webster Groves Christian Church, and Secretary Ashlyn Robbins of First Christian Church in Marshall. See the whole Cabinet list here.

Story by CRY Coordinator Kris Milliron.
Photos courtesy of Kris and Brian Kirk.

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.