Monday, April 30, 2012

new model of community revitalization

I had the humble privilege of exploring a bit of Atlanta, GA, with Christian Community Developer, Bob Lupton, last week.  Bob's passion is to see Christ's Church transition from harmful models of one-way giving and paternalistic serving to creating new models of Christian community development in their own city's neighborhoods.  These new models include a holistic re-construction of an identified geographically-focused neighborhood...a combination of housing and economic development partnered with a network of relationships, community building, and intentional neighboring going on across race, culture, income lines...all in the name of Christ for the purpose that all might experience the fullness of life He offers.  

South Atlanta is one of the neighborhoods of focus.  This beautiful, spray-painted mural frames the gateway into the neighborhood.  It's on a wall that belongs to a thrift store, community run coffee shop ( , and "Earn a Bike" neighborhood bike shop (  South Atlanta has a strong presence of committed seniors.  They, along with FCS Ministries,  have been working on bringing in "strategic neighbors" (forty so far) and getting FCS Ministries' help to build and restore homes and catalyze for economic turn-around.   Lupton is all about Christ-centered ministry and programs, but one of his mantras is, "You will never serve a community out of poverty; it must become economically viable."   

This is a look at one of the villages of East Lake, another neighborhood of focus in Atlanta that has undergone radical transformation over the past 20 years.  This neighborhood is mixed-income..half public housing/affordable housing, and half upper-middle income housing.  Community chaplains and a strong  neighborhood association help keep the vision for holistic health and the weaving of a strong social fabric in the neighborhood.  East Lake is also home to the East Lake Golf Club where "Golf with a Purpose" and the East Lake Foundation have helped empower the community through Purpose Built Communities.

Here, you see a new home with a historic look to it, located in Glenwood Park, Atlanta.  Wouldn't this house look great in the Walnut Neighborhood of Waterloo, a historic neighborhood that sits up against a downtown that is slowly seeing economic development?  Wouldn't it be neat to see not only physical development of a neighborhood, but a whole new model of a reconciling community where neighbors intentionally live with the purpose of loving God, loving neighbor?   Anyone want to join in building such a model?

If you're interested in learning more about Lupton or some of his work, you can order his latest book, Toxic Charity here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

stories from the seats

We've been learning over the past few years how powerfully God works through stories.  Each year, we offer a series called "Stories from the Seats" in which we listen to someone from our congregation each week share how God has worked through people, circumstances, and events in a person's life to draw them near to Himself.  I'm always so moved by these stories and the points in their stories that resonate in my own heart and life.  You can click here to listen to a few of these stories...even mine got into the mix.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

lovin' the Cedar Valley


Just a first look at Love Cedar Valley 2012 today.  A beautiful day of service and outreach, worship, and prayer with churches across the Cedar Valley.  You can already read an article from the Cedar Falls Patch here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

God is good through Love Cedar Valley

Love Cedar Valley 2012 is this Saturday!  God has already blessed me through some moments in the planning process.

On Saturday, I hopped in a car with others and prayed for an hour as we drove around and through the Cedar Valley.  That time of praise and prayer is so uplifting to connects my heart with God's and my Cedar Valley neighbors.  It reminds me that the best thing we can do is prepare the ground through prayer and in faith, ask for a movement of God in our city.

I also talked with a friend yesterday who said that Love Cedar Valley is her 2nd favorite "holiday" of the year...right next to Valentine's Day.  :)  In light of her love for love, she appliqued hearts and Love all over my daughter's jeans for the day.  They are very cool!  Wish I had the guts to wear something that bling, but I think she's putting one small patch down under the knee for me on a pair of jeans.  She knows me!

It's not too late to consider an act of kindness or service this Saturday!  Consider a neighbor, friend, or co-worker, and bless them with a gesture of Jesus's loving kindness this Saturday.

Then, come and worship at Five Sullivan Brothers!  I'm so excited for the opening send-off worship (11:30-Noon) and the closing celebration (1:45-2:30)  The band has like 9 churches represented.  And we have people from several different churches offering prayers and a message of hope and challenge for Christ's Church.

Check out for more information!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

koob award for collaboration

"Christmas in Walnut" received the 2012 Koob Award for Collaboration given at UNI yesterday by the Cedar Valley Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.  Harvest Vineyard, the Boys n' Girls Club, and Orchard Hill Church worked together with schools and the neighborhood to host a Christmas Store, Craft Fair, and Pancake Breakfast in the Walnut Neighborhood for the purpose of building capacity and community during the holiday season.  

Read the Courier news article here

race: are we so different?

The UNI Museum is currently hosting the exhibit "RACE:  Are We So Different?" until June 9.  I encourage everyone who lives locally to spend an hour there before the exhibit leaves and  the museum closes its doors (June 30...due to budget cuts...waaaa)

 There are several informative timelines, videos, and a whole host of information that helps a person consider the biology and history of race, and the social-economic-political dynamics that have played out in light of racial classification.
One large display has pictures of a variety of people with the question, "What are you?" posted on the wall.
In small print at the bottom of the picture, there is a list of what makes up that person's ethnic mix, and then the white space allows the person to define "what they are."  I read through several, and then came across this young girl who summed it up simply and profoundly, as only a child could.  "I am a person."