Mt Airy Community Church Launches Community Ministry

Al Santino – Northeast Community Transformation

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Northeast Community Transformation has recently developed a partnership with Mt Airy Community Church, a new church plant which is part of the Philadelphia Christian Reformed cluster of church plants affiliated with Spirit and Truth Fellowship.  Through the training, coaching and encouragement provided by NECT Mt Airy created the position of Community Advocate around one of its community gifted members, Cindy Lees.  Cindy tells the story of their recent progress.

In the beginning of April, Allen (our pastor) and I helped out at a local community cleanup that was sponsored by West Mount Airy Neighbors (WMAN).  That day I met the Chair of the Nominating Committee for WMAN, who asked me if I had any interest in becoming a board member.  As I thought and prayed about it, it seemed like a significant opportunity for me to become more relationally connected with some of the “gatekeepers” in this community (WMAN is a VERY active organization with a lot of influence in our neighborhood).  As of June 14th, I officially began a three-year term serving on the Board of WMAN (monthly Board meetings start in September).  Please pray for much wisdom for me!

Mt. Airy Day (which is sponsored by WMAN), was the large, annual community celebration that took place in the beginning of May.  This was another good opportunity for me to meet and work alongside folks from WMAN and begin building relationships with this group.  Several folks from our church helped “man” our table (at which we advertised community resources) and they began doing some community surveys as well.  I was encouraged as I reconnected with several folks from the community whom I knew from previous events; it was good to interact with them and let them know about our church and our desire to serve the community.

MACC is also coordinating with another local church, Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church, to run a Summer Kids Program (essentially a vacation Bible School) on Wednesday evenings in July and August.  These evenings will begin with a free “community dinner” for the kids and their parents and families.  This will be followed by teaching and activities for the kids, as well as worship time for teenagers and adults.  This is one of the ways we are seeking to reach out and serve our community.  We have posted flyers in the neighborhood, placed an ad in one of the local newspapers, and have also made some individual phone calls to “get the word out” about the program.  We also plan on handing out flyers door-to-door to folks who live very close to the church.

Success Story –Socorro/ Montana Vista

Jose Rayas – Valley Ridge Ministries

According to the latest statistics, there are approximately 30 million deaf people in the United States. But what is disturbing is that only a small percentage of them attend church. In fact, the number of churches serving the deaf has been decreasing.

So, what can a community do? In East El Paso, Valley Ridge proposed to do something about it: to conduct sign classes in order to have the hearing and the deaf to have a way to communicate. To this end, Valley Ridge has teamed up with Ms. Tiffany, who teaches American Sign Language, and interprets for the court.

As these classes progressed in Socorro, the community of Montana Vista has also answered to the call, and has teamed up with the Spanish Baptist Church in Montana Vista, which has provided a place for Ms. Tiffany to teach a second American Sign Language Class.

Given the fact that El Paso has close to 1 million inhabitants, it is of great importance to continue these classes since there are only two deaf churches in El Paso County.

Kingdom Causes Updates

Terri Larson – Kingdom Causes

Check out some blog posts from our partners at Kingdom Causes:

Caring for the Bruised and the Broken…

Neighborhood Story

Crissy Brook’s Blog has new posts:

Catching Up – an update

Book Review – This is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended

What Not to Prison

Solidarity Newsletter:

Informational Newsletter – Issue 4, April 2011


Neighborhood Safety Work Team

Eric Smith – Think Tank

In May, the Neighborhood Safety Work Team of the Lincoln neighborhood of Springfield, Ohio, convened a “Meet-&-Greet” with the Chief of Police, four of the Police Department’s officers, 3 principals from area schools the mayor of Springfield and an estimated 45 residents.  A light dinner was cooked by residents with the ingredients supplied by the local church food pantry.  The purpose of the meeting was to start to build a relationship between the neighborhood residents and the police force charged with patrolling the area.  The tone of the meeting was generally positive so that the police would know that they had allies in the neighborhood, much as the residents would know that they had allies in the police force.  Ideas were exchanged regarding how to best coordinate efforts for highest impact.  One of the suggestions was to have better reporting of incidents of illegal activity.  The Neighborhood Safety Work Team has met since the Meet-&-Greet and a task force has been formed to look at how to launch a block watch program to better respond to safety concerns in the neighborhood on an ongoing basis.

Nuestra Casa – The Gathering Place

Judy Van Dyke – Good Samaritan Ministries

There are approximately 200 vacant homes in the central city of Holland, Michigan. The home at 253 West 15th Street has been sitting vacant for the past 12 years. Two years ago the home was given to the church across the street, New Community Fourth Church (NC4th). Good Samaritan Ministries (GSM) has been working in partnership with NC4th and Maple Avenue Ministries to do community transformation in this neighborhood. Judy Van Dyke, the Neighborhood Connections Director has been leading an Advisory Team consisting of neighborhood stakeholders and supervises an AmeriCorps member, Raul Garcia as the neighbors, Community Guy. Raul applies Asset Based Community Development methods in this neighborhood to bring people together around things they care about. Raul and the church began listening and dreaming with the neighbors about what they would like to see happen to this deteriorating, vacant home. They soon learned that their shared vision was to create a community center for the neighborhood with an efficiency apartment above to establish a central place where neighbors could connect, share information, skills, resources and knowledge.  Nuestra Casa – The Gathering Place was the name they chose to reflect the diversity and desire of the neighbors to meet in this place.

Over time the church and neighbors learned that they couldn’t move forward because the cost was too great to renovate the home. Their dream was put on hold until a group of women  from Women’s Day of Service walked into GSM and asked the question, “We are celebrating our 10th anniversary of doing community volunteer projects and we want a challenge this year…something that would have a lasting impact on our community. Do you have any ideas for us?” Immediately thoughts came together to have this group of 100 or more women walk with the neighborhoods to begin renovating this home into a community center. The neighbors could begin to dream again.

Plans are underway and progress is being made on the home. The church and neighbors went in front of the City Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals to receive a conditional use permit to have a community center. A steering committee has been formed to work on program development, construction, coordinating volunteers, fundraising and communication. Neighbors are working on interior home demolition, developing a volunteer database, planning a yard and bake sale, working on program development and creating a blog. Today there is energy and new life starting to take shape in this home. A bike ministry and Community Garden are already happening at Nuestra Casa. It will be exciting to see this Extreme Makeover unfold.  This home will be a neighborhood place of life, hope and belonging for years to come.

Community Garden Takes off in Bellflower

Check out a new post from the CFA AmeriCorps blog:

Community gardening is a way a number of our AmeriCorps members have been able to engage their neighbors in meaningful relationships, and create opportunities to serve each other. Please check out the recent post on the AmeriCorps blog on the community garden efforts in his neighborhood!

Changing the Pond

Wendy McCaig – Embrace Richmond

One of our partners, Wendy McCraig, has a great blog post on going beyond “teaching people how to fish” to “changing the conditions of the pond.” Not sure what that means? Check out her post:

Neighborhood Youth Camp in Muskegon

CFA AmeriCorps has a new blog post that you should check out:

Trees in the Desert!

Monika Grasley – LifeLine CDC – CA

Isaiah 41 has a beautiful passage: “When the poor and needy are dying of thirst and cannot find water, I, the LORD God of Israel, will come to their rescue. I won’t forget them. I will make rivers flow on mountain peaks……. I will fill the desert with all kinds of trees…. Everyone will see this and know that I, the holy LORD God of Israel, created it all.”

Winton is in the middle of the ‘agricultural bread bowl of the world’ and yet the town is like a desert, with few trees to give shade during the hot summer months, streets without sidewalks for the children to walk to school and with gang activities that make it unsafe to visit the local park.

During community conversations it became clear that the community wanted more trees for the main street (Winton Way). Under Ernie and Adrian’s leadership community members researched what could be done.

They found out that a group has been working with the local state prison to grow trees for nearby communities. They learned that the local middle school was in the process to get some of the trees for their campus.

So their journey began!

  • They spoke with the County and received permission to plant the trees and to have the county maintain them. The County also donated some of the equipment.
  • They spoke with the business community and local volunteers to get them to commit to water the trees in front of their businesses.
  • They spoke with the school and prison to get 20 trees donated.
  • They spoke with community members to make it a joint effort of planting who brought with them the tools and expertise.

So when the day neared to plant the trees it was a day of celebration! So many community members came out to help with it, so many enjoyed the fruit of their labor.

2 weeks ago was the spring parade in Winton and the little trees were in bloom for the enjoyment of the community.

We hope and pray that these trees will have “Everyone see this and know that I, the holy LORD God of Israel, created it all.”

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Quite a LifeLine in Winton

Monika Grasley – LifeLine CDC – CA

Ernie Solis was LifeLine’s first AmeriCorps member 4 years ago and continues to be a strong voice in the community. This is one of the projects that he and a team of community members have been working on. Organized by community members a collaborative law clinic is being piloted in Winton, California, thanks to the leadership of Ernie Solis. This article appeared in the Merced Sun-Star newspaper:

A free legal clinic is planned for Winton on July 9. The Free Winton Legal Clinic is a product of the collaboration between Winton LifeLine Community Center, Merced County Public Defender, Central California Legal Services and UC Merced Law Clinic. The purpose of the clinic is to make free legal services and information available to Winton residents.

Winton LifeLine Community Center has been part of the community for several years. LifeLine has become a force for improving the community by engaging in graffiti abatement, involving the local youth in this project and working on other projects.

I first met LifeLine representative Ernie Solis several months ago….

Read more:

Street Church is Building Relationships in Downtown Hampton, Virginia

Jim Moynihan – One Church – VA

In an effort to introduce ABCD principles and to conduct listening and convening events is downtown Hampton, Virginia we are conducting a weekly Street Church ministry on Sunday evenings. The residents and staff of this very needy community have received us well. We are building relationships of trust as we seek to transition this ministry to being a with effort.

Steve Edwards and I have continued to build relationships with several churches and ministries serving the Downtown community of Hampton, Virginia as well as with the residents of the Harbor Square apartments and their surrounding neighborhood.

The to/for ministry we have begun, in the hopes of introducing ABCD, is a Street Church ministry conducted on the property of the Harbor Square Apartment facility. This is a low income area that has many difficult issues they deal with continuously, including high crime and poverty.

The seven surrounding Christian churches, which are all within walking distance of the apartments, have been either unwilling or unable to build relationships with this community. Through the Street Church ministry two of these churches, along with several churches from outside of this community, have started to make connections with the management and the residents living there.

Steve and I are attending local ministerial gatherings to get acquainted with area ministers and to introduce the concept of ABCD. We are sharing the principles of ABCD in person, on a local radio program hosted by someone from the community, and through “What is ABCD?” group meetings.

Those who are partnering with us to make Street Church happen are concerned that the progress weʼve made to date will fizzle when the weather changes at the end of the summer. We are encouraging them to learn how to apply ABCD principles as we conduct Street Church. We are also working with them to plan listening and convening events with the stakeholders and residents
of the Harbor Square neighborhood.

Steve and Denise Edwards Denise serves lunches 3 days each week to the hungry of downtown Hampton.

Getting a short term focus. One S.M.A.R.T. goal.

Andy Batten – Lighthouse INC – OH

Many of the mapping parents are helping design and lead a summer leadership camp. The project will work to develop a team of young people to develop a plan and execute it as a team. Hope this will bring a DeVos project together in Cleveland. These are the notes of the visioning session #1:

Summer Collaboration – VISION:
Develop a youth development model that is multi- generational that involves youth, parents and providers in design, execution, and evaluation.

A successful summer youth program built on the power of “WE”.

There was a great deal that we learned at our first meeting. Now that we have a “Big Picture” dream and a focused short term goal we need to get specific.

Once we answer these questions about our goals we can have a clear plan in place that allows us to move from ideas, to plan, into execution.

We need to decide who wants to continue the conversation about how we move forward. Time is short, so we need to finalize this first project.

Specific goal. The specific goal is to execute a 5 week summer leadership program with the shared resources of our “network”.

Measurable: The program will meet from July 5th to August 5th and will focus on no more than 50 students and end with a back to school basketball camp. What are the goals that we want to measure????

Achievable Are we committed to make sure this is done as planned? Can we realistically make this happen with what resources and people we currently have in place?

Realistic Are our goals something that we can reasonably do? Do the things we work towards make a real difference? Will anyone notice if we decided not to proceed?

Time Bound What is the timeline for us to get started? How do we know when we are finished? How do we transition out and celebrate the success? What is the detailed schedule of activities for each day and hour?


1. Explore Possibilities  2. Understand Opportunities    3. Discover Resources

LOAVES and FISHES  (The resources that we already have.)

1. Curriculum
2. Staff,youth coordinators
3. Participate
4. Volunteers, teach history
5. Drill
6. Smile, helping hand
7. Recruiting – ABCD Mapping
8. Time to volunteer
9. Volunteer network
11. Resource network
12. Food SFSP
13. 15 Passenger van
14. Neighbor Circle
15. Space
16. DeVos Leadership Plan

THE GAPS (Things that we still need.)
1. Gas Money
Core to the strategy is a weekly field trip. There is a need for gas money to cover the transportation costs.
2. Lonnie Burton
Because there are so many kids and a wide variety of ages we need to include Lonnie Burton in the planning and execution as part of the partnerships.
3. Space at Cedar
With so many kids already in the networks care, we need to find a space that will allow Cedar’s young
people to participate in the activities. Time and space are key concerns.
4. Coordinated efforts.
With the many projects working together it is going to be key. The need for solid planning and consistent communication is critical. A working calender with details clearly spelled out is a must if we can move forward.
5. Celebrating together

Uncovering the dreams:

Successful summer program.
To find a way to come together this summer to deliver a vibrant program for the young people that are in our network, residents of Central, or CMHA.
Holistic youth Development
Develop a process that works to surround young people with people not programs in way that models a family environment and fosters growth.
Quality programs for all of CMHA’s youth.
To develop a program at Outhwaite that can be delivered at all CMHA family estates that work as part of a continuum of care.
We will be intentional to include parents, grandparents, and the communities wisdom as a key to creating sustainable and meaningful connections.
Focus on Children
With so many needs that can distract this group, we will focus our efforts on the Children and youth believing that an investment in our young people is an investment in our future.
Raise a new standard for Central kids
We are tiered of passing sub- standard projects, expectations, and results off as success. In order to prepare our young people for life, we need to challenge them to set goals and standards that will allow them to succeed. We have to be honest and face the cold hard facts if we want to see things improve.
That this is only a first step toward a big Dream.
No matter how successful the summer is or how much struggle we face we understand that this is only a first of many steps that we must take together that will lead to our dream for the preferred future.

CFA 2010 Audited Financials

To view the Communities First 2010 Audited Financial Report go to the Financial Report page.

Financial Report Page

Dancing With a Giant

Wendy McCaig – Embrace Richmond

Check out Wendy McCraig’s blog post about how to get social services agencies, the police department, the churches, non-profit agencies, and the educational institutions all working together, not around a “cause” but instead focused on a particular “community?”

Click here for the post.


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