Category Archives: Nonprofit Spotlight

Retired educator feeds her community with books

Published by:

carver-park-lynda-jones-mubarak

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

For Dr. Lynda Jones-Mubarak, being a champion of early literacy initiatives and tackling hunger in the community in which one lives is a trueauthor-mubarak-carver-city blueprint for happier, safer, and more vibrant communities.

To place her vision in reality, the retired special education teacher, facilitator, and U.S. Army veteran has formed an alliance with Community Food Bank in Fort Worth.

“This alliance was forged in an effort to end hunger in the North Texas region,” Jones-Mubarak said.

As a longtime supporter of the food bank and other community based organizations, Mubarak saw fit to donate 15 percent of all proceeds from her newly published children’s book, titled Carver Park  to the Community Food Bank.

Mubarak said Carver Park is an area that was designated for African-Americans when segregation prevailed as law and as a dominant force in social life in Waco, Texas.

In the book, Mubarak recounts her times in Carver Park and gives readers a perspective of one child who found the vibrancy of life through the harshness of society’s circumstances during that time. The storyline affirms that choice people in our lives provide us with the knowledge and support needed to learn, survive, and progress during a time of great social unrest and historical change, similar to what many marginalized communities may be facing today.

Community Food Bank’s mission serves to fight hunger by providing food, education, and resources to hungry families in a dignified, personal and timely manner. They operate as a food pantry and as a food bank; without ZIP code restrictions.

The educator said the collaboration between Mubarak and the Community Food Bank is the subtle reminder that one person can make a difference, even in the most modest of ways.

Carver Park is available for purchase at www.melaninorigins.com/books/.

Feature photo: Carver Park by Dr. Lynda Jones-Mubarak. Inset photo: Dr. Jones-Mubarak.

Christian History Institute details the Catholic Reformation

Published by:

catholic-reformation-christian-history

Special to Inside The Pew

Worcester, Penn. – Christian History Institute (CHI), publisher of Christian History magazine, announces its latestcatholic-reformation-christian-history issue, titled: The Catholic Reformation – Art, piety and the fight for renewal.  The issue is the fourth and final in a series of four, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation period, beginning in October of 1517.

This issue, #122, contains ten in-depth articles that explore responses to the Reformation within the Catholic Church and two related Protestant movements (the Arminius challenge to Calvin’s reform movement and the Puritan’s movement in America). The issue brings to a conclusion the editor’s four-issue series commemorating the 500th anniversary of the European Reformation period, generally considered to have begun with the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, in protest.

The issue’s contributing authors (see content link below) examine responses by both Catholic Church insiders and evangelicals. While Catholic piety and discipline reactions spawned numerous formal orders, including the 1540 formation of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), they also encouraged underground “justification by faith” movements which have remarkably experienced revival in modern times. Both responses, in spite of papal reluctance, lead to the Council of Trent, started in 1545 and lasting until the end of 1563.

In addition to exploring Europe’s Thirty Years’ War and its stamp on the relationship between the church and state, contributing authors explore how Protestant rejection of church statuary and images resulted in an art explosion as an expression of Catholic Church doctrine. Set upon a stage of Protestant reforms, the Council of Trent did more to clarify and affirm Catholic Church doctrines rather than to be a move toward actual reform.

“As I immersed myself in the Catholic Reformation, I encountered a cast of characters and events seeking an answer to the same question that troubled Protestants: Something has gone wrong here—how can we fix it?,” said CH managing editor, Jennifer Woodruff Tait. In service of that question, [Catholic] religious leaders dialogued with Protestants, rooted out heretics, and eventually convened the Council of Trent, which forged a uniquely Catholic way of reform. If you are a Protestant, reading this issue will require you to think differently about what reform looked like in the sixteenth century, where it happened, how, and why.”

CH issue 122, contains 10 feature articles; a special bonus time-line chronology pull-out; an archive of rare and beautiful art-work & photos; a ‘letters to the editor’ section and an extensive reading list compiled by the CH editorial staff. The magazine is available on-line and can be conveniently read, on screen at: www.christianhistoryinstitute.org.

The entire CH archive collection of 122 issues can be searched, along with books and study-guides, using the website’s robust search engine feature. The website, combined with a magazine subscription is offered at no-cost as a study resource for the home & homeschoolers, church libraries, middle/high schools, as well as to colleges & universities. It is the mission of CHI donors and staff to make this resource as widely and freely available as possible (donations gratefully accepted).

The following articles can be accessed on-line at: What’s Inside?

Articles in issue #122, titled: The Catholic Reformation – Art, piety and the fight for renewal, include:

Helping Souls –  How religious orders of the sixteenth century pursued reform and holiness
author:  Katie M. Benjamin, a Th.D. candidate at Duke University working in Reformation history and theology.

The Road Not Taken – Evangelical Catholics worked for reform without leaving their mother church
author: Edwin Woodruff Tait, managing editor, Christian History

Picturing Saints – What Catholic piety in the Sixteenth century looked and felt like
Virginia C. Raguin, Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the College of the Holy Cross and author of Stained Glass: Radiant Art and Art, Piety, and Destruction in the Christian West, 1500–1700.

The Persistent Council – Catholic reform came to a head at the Council of Trent
Martin J. Lohrmann, assistant professor of Lutheran confessions and heritage at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa; author of Book of Harmony; and coeditor of a volume in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series.

A Renewed and Global Faith – After Trent, changes were in the air
Thomas Worcester, S.J., professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross, the author of Seventeenth-Century Cultural Discourse, and the editor of the Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits.

Reasons of State – The Thirty Years’ War: Europe’s last religious war
Roger G. Robins, associate professor in the Center for Global Communication Strategies at the University of Tokyo.

Defender of God’s Justice – Arminius questioned some aspects of Reformed faith, but he never meant to launch a movement
William den Boer, postdoctoral researcher in church history at the Theological University of Kampen and the author of God’s Twofold Love: The Theology of Jacob Arminius (1559–1609).

Coming to America – The Puritans left us a profound, ambiguous legacy
Malcolm Foley, Ph.D. student in the history of Christianity at Baylor University.

Remaking the World – Five men with very different ideas on the reform of Sixteenth-century Catholicism
Edwin and Jennifer Woodruff Tait – Edwin Woodruff Tait is contributing editor at Christian History. Jennifer Woodruff Tait is managing editor at Christian History.

The Ecumenical Dilemma – Protestants and Catholics share their experiences from the Reformation until the present day – with John W. O’Malley, S.J., Paul Rorem, Ernest Freeman, John Armstrong, and Thomas A. Baima.

Project executive director describes life as ‘JESUS’ Film missionary

Published by:

gabon-central-africa-jesus-film

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

Recounts from Christian missionaries show the transforming power of God’s word. This is exactly what Dr. Erickgabon-central-africa-jesus-film Schenkel conveys in his upcoming release, Everyone, Everywhere.

Schenkel, executive director of Jesus Film Project®, shares his personal journey in ministry since graduating from Harvard College in 1974 and the subsequent global impact of the film “JESUS” since its release in 1979.

The “JESUS” film, envisioned by Bill Bright, co-founder of Cru, and was produced in cooperation with The Genesis Project. “JESUS” is the most watched film according to Guinness Book of World Records and, as of this year, is available in 1,500 languages with the latest translation in Daasanach. Jesus Film Project continues to carry out Bright’s vision of showing this film to people in every country of the world.

The missionary has witnessed numerous miraculous occurrences as a result of both his and others’ commitments to sharing the Gospel around the world and working toward fulfilling the Great Commission through various mediums throughout the years including “JESUS” film screenings and the latest tools and films available through the Jesus Film Project app.

“This book is an invitation to join the most exciting, the most compassionate, the most significant movement in theerick-schenkel-everyone-everywhere world,” Schenkel said. “It is written primarily for people who are presently followers of Jesus Christ, but I dare to hope that some who are not His followers will be drawn to the beauty and the importance of the realities it presents.”

Through Everyone, Everywhere, which is set for release on May 23, Schenkel sheds light on the history of evangelism throughout the centuries and the varying branches of the Christian faith. He points out that though each of these sects might have had different beliefs on certain aspects, fundamentally everyone who has professed a belief in Christ has been tasked with the same thing – to spread the Gospel.

“We followers of Jesus Christ share one history,” Schenkel said. “We are involved in one mission. We must also remember that simply taking to oneself the name of Jesus Christ — regardless of what one’s devotional practice may be — is in itself a radical step.  In much of the world, there is nothing to be gained in this life by claiming to be a Christian. In fact, confessing Christ can be dangerous, regardless of the church one attends — or fails to attend.  …  Just taking the name of Jesus can get you killed.”

Throughout the book, Schenkel shares stories of missionaries, pastors and others in ministry work around the world who passionately share the message of Christ, despite the risks. From nations where sharing the Gospel of Jesus is illegal such as China and Middle Eastern countries to areas where Christianity is exploding including Korea, Vietnam and parts of Africa and Latin America, Schenkel explores how the message of Christ is indeed reaching the nations. He also talks about the fact that though the United States and other westernized countries still play a role in spreading the Gospel, the saving grace of Jesus is now being spread “from everyone, to everywhere.”

“Never has there been the possibility of inter-related global movements of Jesus followers like we see beginning to happen today,” he said. “I am convinced that we live at the most exciting moment in the history of the church.”

Learn more about Everyone, Everywhere, visit the  Jesus Film website.

Photos (top to bottom)

Residents of the central African country of Gabon view a showing of the JESUS Film.

Dr. Erick Schenkel, author of Everyone, Everywhere

Images courtesy of the Jesus Film Project®

© 2017 Inside The Pew

Bayou City renewal: First Presbyterian Church of Houston announces ‘Project Flourish’

Published by:

project flourish first presbyterian church of houston

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

First Presbyterian Church of Houston has unveiled Project Flourish, a creative invitation to the community to helpproject flourish first presbyterian church of houston bring fresh ideas to the issues that face a major metropolitan city like Houston.

According to the church’s May 2 announcement, it has set aside $250,000 for a social-entrepreneurship contest that seeks to grow new creative ideas from the community and mobilize Houstonians to seek city-wide renewal and transformational change.

“Every neighborhood in Houston is home to people who care deeply about our city—and we believe God has a heart to see Houston continually renewed and flourishing,” said Jim Birchfield, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church. “We want to see our city thrive—by offering $250,000 in seed money for creative proposals to that end, we truly want to work with individuals and teams who are seeking the good of the city.”

Individuals and teams who reside within 50 miles of downtown Houston are encouraged to apply through the Project Flourish website.

Applications are open to both for-profit and non-profit ideas, and will continue to be accepted through September 10th. Applications will be reviewed and semi-finalists will be invited into a six-week “acceleration” process designed to refine their proposal and receive consulting support, mentorship, and expertise from FPC congregants. At the conclusion of the six-week acceleration process, semi-finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, supporters and prospective investors who will have the job of awarding funding from the $250,000 pool.

“We are looking for fresh solutions with truly innovative approaches to go after some of the greatest problems we face as a city,” said Austin Hermann, FPC’s Director of Ministry Empowerment. “We are looking for individuals and teams who have ideas in their earlier conceptual stages of development but have some clear traction and proven attempts at implementation. Judges will want to see evidence of market testing, research, and problem understanding.”

Established in 1839, First Presbyterian Church of Houston was the first church to organize and build in Houston. Today its congregation continues to worship and serve from its location in the heart of the city’s museum district. Committed to providing opportunities to Gather, Grow and Go, the FPC Houston community continues to impact Houston and beyond through multiple worship styles, biblical teaching and strategic opportunities to serve through both local and global mission ministry opportunities. Compelled by the love of Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, FPC Houston is committed to carry the gospel to Houston and to the world.

To apply with your idea, or to learn more visit http://projectflourish.org/.

Project Flourish is a direct result of Vision 2020, the plan by which FPC Houston has committed to fulfill its mission: “Compelled by the love of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we carry the gospel to Houston and the world.”   

© 2017 Inside The Pew

 

Human trafficking opponent in Houston to launch initiative

Published by:

in-our-backyard-human-trafficking

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

For seven Super Bowls, Nita Belles has brought attention to the troubling occurrence of human trafficking that takes in-our-backyard-human-traffickingplace during major sporting events. And this year is no different.

Millions are awaiting the big game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, scheduled to take place in Houston, Texas, the host city of Super Bowl 51, on Sunday, February 5, 2017, but as in previous years, human trafficking is a real concern to many, especially Nita Belles.

Belles is the founder of In Our Backyard (IOB) — http://inourbackyard.org/ — and Jan. 28 she officially announced the launch of the “Convenience Stores Against Trafficking” (CSAT) initiative. She did so during her appearance as keynote speaker at “Vulnerable: A Conference on the Issues of Gender, Race, Poverty & Human Trafficking,” held at South Main Baptist Church, 4100 Main St. in Houston. The free conference kicked off at 1 p.m.

“The Houston Super Bowl was the right time to launch the campaign,” Belles said. “Houston was very accepting and welcoming of the program. Greater Houston Retailers Association put CSAT materials and training out to 1,900 convenience stores.”

IOB will also work with local law enforcement and other groups responding to the anticipated increased sex trade activity in the Houston area. Days before the launch of the initiative, on Jan. 24, KTRK-TV, the ABC-affiliate in Houston, reported a 21-year-old woman — who said she was brought to Houston specifically for sex trafficking at the Super Bowl — was raped in downtown Houston by a pimp. According to the report, a Good Samaritan rescued the woman and took her to Ben Taub Hospital for treatment.

In addition, Belles said her organization have unveiled a major social media drive aiming to boost awareness of human trafficking during the events surrounding the February 5th game. The anti-human trafficking campaigner said she hopes for a quarter of a million shares of the new Thunderclap video, “Link Arms Across America,” during the first quarter. The short awareness message features former victims holding signs of things they were told by their traffickers.

“Thousands of women, children, and even some men across the country are caught up in the horrors of sex trafficking, convinced that there is no way out, and convenience stores can be a first line of help for these victims,” Belles said. “Businesses like these can be heroes in this fight; we’re so glad for their support.”

Since founding IOB in 2006, Belles has become widely recognized as a leading voice in the fight against human trafficking. A frequent speaker to law enforcement, medical, civic and community groups, she has also been an adviser on anti-trafficking legislation to legislators in several states and authored the authoritative book “In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do to Stop It.”

“Human trafficking happens 24/7, 365 days a year, in every zip code in America,” Belles said. “But working together, we can bring an end to this atrocity.”

Belles said volunteers are being recruited for the event to help canvas convenience stores in the Houston area. Visit the IOB website (http://inourbackyard.org/) to sign up.

© 2017 Inside The Pew

Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank receives $1.4M from FEMA

Published by:

greater-baton-rouge-food-bank-baton-rouge-la

Special to Inside The Pew

The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank has been able to continue its feeding mission with the help of a nearly $1.4 million FEMA grant.

The grant reimburses expenses to dispose of debris, clean and disinfect property and equipment and restoregreater baton rouge food bank refrigeration and freezing at the Choctaw Drive distribution facility damaged in the August flooding event. It also provides the food bank with a temporary facility to support its essential community service.

The nonprofit stores food at the distribution facility that faith-based and community groups then distribute to pantries, meal sites, homes, shelters and soup kitchens in the Baton Rouge area.

The funds were made available through FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program. The program reimburses expenses to eligible local and state government and certain private nonprofit entities in 26 designated parishes to repair or replace disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure.

The 26 designated parishes eligible for PA funding are Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Point Coupee, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana.

FEMA typically reimburses 75 percent of eligible PA expenses. However, applicants will be reimbursed 90 percent of eligible PA expenses given the magnitude of the August floods. The federal portion is paid directly to the state, which then disburses the funds to the applicants.

The wonder of creation: Christian History magazine announces latest issue

Published by:

By Michael Austin
Special to Inside The Pew

Worcester, Pa.– Christian History Institute (CHI), publisher of Christian History magazine (CHM), announces its latest issue, titled: The Wonder of Creation: How Christians have responded to God’s ‘book of nature”.  The issue is a long-awaited homage to the grandeur of planet earth through the eyes theologians, church leaders, believers and a growing number of scientists.

CHM issue 119, contains 10 feature articles; a 2,000-year timeline chronology, an archive of rare artwork, photos, a “letters to the editor” section, and an extensive reading list compiled by the CHM editorial staff. The entire magazine is available online and can be read at: www.christianhistoryinstitute.org. The CHM archive collection of 119 issues can be searched, along with books and study-guides, using the website’s search engine feature. The CHM site, including a no-cost magazine subscription, is a study resource offered primarily for the home and homeschoolers, church libraries, middle/high schools, as well as to colleges & universities at no-cost. It is the mission of CHI donors and staff to make this resource as widely and freely available as possible – donations gratefully accepted.

Long before the birth of Jesus Christ, the prophetic words of the Bible honor the Father’s creation as if nature itself were a “second ‘book” of scripture, announcing, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge.’ – Psalm 19:1-2. Throughout history similar reverence has been repeated, as in the words of the monastic Antony (c.251-356) who said, “My book is the nature of created things. In it, when I choose, I can read the words of God.”

The famed American environmentalist and writer, who co-founded America’s Sierra Club, John Muir, said, referring to the simple beauty of a flower, “Now my eyes were opened to their inner beauty, all alike revealing glorious traces of the thoughts of God and leading on and on into the infinite cosmos.”

The impact, beauty and vast unknowns of nature combined with the desire of Christians for knowledge overChristian history magazine the centuries, spawned the disciplines of what we refer to today as formal higher education and learning, expressed through art and the professions.

Christian beliefs combined with the work of influential European believers, such as Johannes Kepler (1571-1630); Francis Bacon (1561-1626); Robert Boyle 1627-1691) and Isaac Newton (1642-1727), to name just a few, helped convert the study of theology and philosophy into an entirely new discipline, eventually called science. For them, this new revolution in thought introduced a new view of nature, a new view of investigation (the scientific method) and a new way to praise God.

Expressing the essence of this issue titled, The Wonder of Creation, managing editor of Christian History, Jennifer Woodruff Tait, said, “Christians have written poetry, prose, hymns and sermons explaining how contemplating God’s wonders led them to a greater love of God. They have created art to capture its beauty; they have worked to farm and tend that which God put into the natural order. And they have reminded us how one of the charges God gave us in the Garden of Eden was to till and keep this world (Gen. 2:15).”

“Christian history has been largely removed from the American public education system that Christian leaders began in the early years of this nation,” said Michael Austin, a Christian commentator. “After years of decline, our public schools no longer teach the Bible’s founding contribution to Western Civilization. Quakers have influenced our culture’s values regarding faith, freedom and mercy. Yet, today, faith in God is being openly questioned and attacked.”

#post-3846 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

And the community project began…

Published by:

Editor’s note: This is the part final of a series on a collaboration that benefits one north Texas city.

By Lisa V. Cone
Special to Inside The Pew

Imagine being a busy business owner or a CEO running a multi-million dollar company. Would you find the time in your busy schedule to help a church? Help a community? Help restore lives and bring light to so many in darkness.

This group of business leaders in the McKinney, Texas, area did just that by restoring the Word Church. They areFundraisers at the Word Church members of an organization called the C12 Group — a movement of Christian business executives building great businesses for an even greater purpose.

C12 member, Russell Polk, who owns a construction and remodeling company assisted in many of the assessments and construction activities needed to make the critical improvements to The Word Church building. C12 member Jim Schwalls, who owns tax and real estate companies, introduced Pastor Dyson to a banker who arranged a loan and helped negotiate a purchase price for the house. Schwalls explained, “The Word Church was leasing the building with an option to purchase. We unanimously knew purchasing the building and the home on the adjacent lot was the right option,” Schwalls shared. “This was God at work. Everything fell into place.”

The church closed on the house and building in November of 2015. In January 2016, two families moved into the house. The church remodel and restoration project is currently underway.

The Gift of Giving
“I see this spirit of giving and volunteering now spreading to other sectors of the city to include city leaders,” sharedCommunity Volunteers to Fix Home and Church on property Pastor Dyson.

Many in the community have been led to be part of a blessing that has a tremendous ripple effect. Husbands, wives, families and local residents are all coming together to work on the church and volunteering to clean the building, paint, help maintain the grounds and donate furniture for fundraisers.

“The Holy Spirit is changing our hearts. The church needed thousands of dollars in electrical repairs and improvements, but the Lord provided. A local electrician donated his time and was even able to have the parts sold to the church at a wholesale price. A new roof was required. A roofing company donated shingles. We needed appliances, they were donated. People are opening their hearts and helping in any way they feel called to help,” explained Schwalls.

C12 Group Chairman, Tom Hawes shared, “C12 members are unique in that they are business owners who make it a priority to honor God in all things. Sharing their business skills and talents, C12 members formed an advisory group to The Word Church providing strategic direction, financial insights and business guidance. Truly, their businesses are serving a greater purpose.”

Rising Up to Meet the Community Needs

Pastor Dyson believes that C12 was a God-send and knows that they would not be able to meet the needs of the community and fix the church if it wasn’t for the expertise and business acumen of this group. “They helped us with the details of financing the new building, helped us put a transitional home together for single mothers –all within a budget. In every area of this church, we have been touched by these blessings and partnership,” Dyson said.

The Word Church also helps individuals on the streets or those facing difficult times. Pastor Dyson shared the story about an east McKinney resident who is fighting cancer. She is facing enormous health care bills and since she is sick, can no longer work and pay her rent. Many individuals have donated money, food and clothes on her behalf. A C12 member created a benevolence fund within his company and has offered to donate part of the fund to help this woman pay her bills. Others are working with the insurance companies to help her get the best heath care benefits.

A Source of Light and Inspiration
“As business owners the big question we ask is how can we use our business to do what God wants us to do in our community. How can we get involved and make a difference?” Cuccia explained.

The intangible gifts are what makes this project so unique. Beyond paint, furniture and a new roof, the generosity comes in the form of volunteers creating marketing plans, organizing fundraisers and coat drives, and drafting strategic plans for The Word Church.

“The people in east McKinney do not need a hand out, they need a hand up,” said Pastor Dyson. “They need work, coaching, training, guidance and someone who truly cares.” Providing a hand-up in life and connecting them with Christ is the vision of this church and Pastor Dyson looks forward to being part of this amazing journey.

Hawes shared, “This is such an uplifting story shows how men and women of different backgrounds, vocations and circumstances can unite to serve the community together. We are honored to work with The Word Church and to remember that we all have something to contribute. When members of the community pull together for a united cause, the power and inspiration becomes unstoppable.”

Photo cutlines (photos courtesy of Lisa V. Cone):

Top: Fundraisers at the Word Church

Bottom: Group of community volunteers to fix a home and church on property

Lisa V. Cone is a writer for The C12 Group, America’s leading roundtable for Christian CEOs and owners dedicated to building great business for a greater purpose. She resides in Austin, and provides marketing and communications strategic support for non-profits and growing businesses across the country in various industries. 

God at work: When community comes together, great things happen

Published by:

Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series on a collaboration that benefits one north Texas city.

By Lisa V. Cone
Special to Inside The Pew

Do you believe that giving is contagious? A group of McKinney, Texas, business owners and community leadersThe Word Church Repairs certainly do. Their generosity and charitable spirit not only helped people, but their giving has spurred a ripple effect of generosity across the community.

It all began with a small church that hosts worship services from an old building on the east side of McKinney — an area impacted by economic hardships and poverty. Many of the area’s residents struggle to find jobs and provide the basic necessities for their families. In the middle of so much darkness, The Word Church has been a source of hope, restoration, and light. Men, women and families come to the church not only to worship, but to receive a warm meal, clothes and even a place to sleep. In addition, the church offers job training programs, money management skills, counseling, job referrals and other resources to help those who need guidance and a hand-up.

“The goal for this church is to create a place where people in need can heal, be restored and connect with their families, their community, and, most importantly, with God. Our church hosts worship services and Bible study groups, but we want to be even more to those in need. A house on the adjacent lot provides transitional housing for single mothers and the working poor who are trying to make ends meet. We want to be a resource for the community while sharing the love of Christ,” explained The Word Church Pastor, Robert Dyson.

And even as their building was falling down around them, The Word Church was steadfast to heal and restore those in the community from the inside out. But to provide even more resources, the church building and house were in desperate need of repairs that were beyond what the congregation could provide on its own.

A Community United

Enter the C12 Group of Collin/Denton, a peer advisory forum for Christian CEOs and owners committed to building great businesses for a greater purpose. C12 members focus on critical business topics to strengthen their businesses while finding ways to honor God through ministry. This network of men and women who all own or lead a business in the area became aware of The Word Church eighteen months ago. The church’s needs were apparent. C12 members decided that applying their skills, time and energy was a way to bless their local community — and the outcome is beyond what anyone could have imagined.

C12 member, Sam Cuccia who owns a telecommunications consulting company, is one of the nearly dozen C12 members who have been part of the team helping The Word Church. From his perspective, it all started with a prompting from God. Cuccia recalls hearing a sermon at his church, Christ Fellowship Church, when Pastor Bruce Miller (also a C12 member) shared stories and a video clip documenting the poverty and heartache in McKinney’s east side.

“McKinney, Texas was named the best place to live in America by Money magazine. But if you travel to the east side, it is a different story. How can this be happening in my city and I don’t even know it? It shook me,” explained Cuccia. “After witnessing photos of poverty and loss, I wanted to do something, but I just wasn’t sure what to do. Perhaps this was the vision from God I was supposed to follow.” And so he did.

Brokenness Repaired

After speaking with his church, Cuccia was advised to meet with 3e McKinney, a ministry that brings care, hope andThe Word Church Stands Strong transformation to the city through the collaborative efforts of many churches. He learned about The Word Church and how Dyson wanted to make a difference to the east side. Cuccia soon discovered how this church was providing worship and support services to residents, but was having a difficult time operating out of their aging, dilapidated building.

“That’s when I asked fellow C12 member, Russell Polk, who owns a construction and remodeling company to come with me to meet with leaders of The Word Church,” Cuccia explained. The critical needs and opportunities were immediately clear. With a passion in their hearts to help, Polk and Cuccia discussed the opportunity to assist the church with all the C12 Groups in Collin and Denton counties. Many other members felt the same tug on their hearts and asked how they could help.

C12 members went to the church to meet with Dyson and his leaders. He immediately witnessed the power of giving through the C12 Group and calls them the catalyst for change.

“These men and women are busy running their own businesses but, they so selflessly donate their time, financial contributions and talents with repairing the building,” Dyson said. “They are hands on, in the trenches getting it done, working side by side, all while relationships are being created and strengthened.

“Giving, honoring God and blessing others through time and talents is exactly what these men and women are doing. We have a building that was falling apart, but this building is a source of guidance and healing for our community. If we can restore this building, then we can restore more people.”

And the Project Began….

Find out the details of the project, how the community got involved and the outcome of dozens of charitable hearts in part two.

Photo cutlines (courtesy of Lisa V. Cone):

Top: Volunteers renovate The Word Church in McKinney, Texas.

Bottom: Sign attached to church shows “The Word” stands strong. 

Lisa V. Cone is a writer for The C12 Group, America’s leading roundtable for Christian CEOs and owners dedicated to building great business for a greater purpose. She resides in Austin, and provides marketing and communications strategic support for non-profits and growing businesses across the country in various industries. 

Louisiana among 8 states to benefit from AmeriCorps, DRA partnership

Published by:

Corporation for national and community service

Special to Inside The Pew

A new partnership for national service, DeltaCorps, will help address economic and social needs of local communities in the eight states of the Mississippi River Delta region, leaders from the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps.

Announced July 14, DRA and AmeriCorps plan to deploy the first group of DeltaCorps members in fall 2016 to each of the eight states of the DRA footprint: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. This deployment will coincide with a national commemoration of the one-millionth participant to serve in AmeriCorps.

This partnership, valued at $1.6 million, will deploy up to 100 AmeriCorps members to the Delta region over the next year.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PLZ54wDoDlX7cAjIze5irZH_5C6oi8Oa-M&hl=en_US

DeltaCorps: a program of AmeriCorps and the Delta Regional Authority will deploy AmeriCorps members to local organizations to help them improve economic opportunity in their communities. DeltaCorps members will serve with nonprofit organizations that have distinguished themselves as powerful catalysts for change in the Delta region. The program will utilize a diverse portfolio of models that develop stronger local economies through workforce training, health and wellness, emergency preparedness, and additional focus areas.

“Our communities in the Delta region are in need of increased capacity to their existing assets so that they can better address the numerous challenges and harness economic opportunities for Delta workers, families, and businesses. We are looking to the existing, proven model of success in AmeriCorps and investing our resources to deploy interested service members that will help these organizations create jobs, build their local communities, and improve the lives of the 10 million people in the Delta region,” said Chris Masingill, federal co-chairman of the DRA.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

The added capacity that DeltaCorps brings to community organizations will help them expand and reach into traditionally underserved communities. As DRA recognizes the important role national and community service plays in the economic development of the Delta region, the program also elevates the culture of service and civic engagement in the Delta. Region-focused leadership training for the DeltaCorps members will develop future leaders for the Delta region while also increasing the positive impact young residents can have in supporting their local communities.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Delta Regional Authority, which shares our belief in improving economic opportunity through unique and innovative partnerships like the one we announced today,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “For more than 20 years, AmeriCorps has helped organizations meet critical needs in communities around the nation. Through the new DeltaCorps partnership, AmeriCorps members will continue to address some of the most pressing social and economic challenges facing the Mississippi River Delta Region.”

The Notice of Federal Funding Availability has been posted on both agencies’ websites at DRA.gov/DeltaCorps/ and NationalService.gov/DeltaCorps. The program is accepting applications on a rolling basis. Organizations with existing infrastructure to support the AmeriCorps program are invited to apply for DeltaCorps member slots.

#post-3780 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}