Tag Archives: compassion

New Church Partnership Models

15 Jul

My work as a writer, editor and church worker have all put me in conversation with friends in Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Muslim and Jewish communities who are all wondering about the future of spiritual life in the United States. In many of these US circles, attendance at worship is down, especially among young people, and religious professionals are asking some hard questions. When Good Ground Press invited me to blog at Keeping Faith Today, they simply said, “Write about what it means to be a faithful person today. Talk about it all– the joys, controversies, and challenges.” It is rewarding work to be a part of the conversation across denominational lines.

Some exciting new models are coming out of the hard questions that religious professionals are asking about the future of the church. One trend I am seeing is churches and nonprofits being open and willing to work with for profit companies in new partnerships. The examples that are working are those where the partnership is savvy, relevant, and symbiotic. Here is an interesting example brought to my attention by Adam Copeland, a Presbyterian friend working at a Lutheran College with faith, leadership and new media, on one of his blog posts:

Via Kickstarter, Broad Street Ministry is seeking to partner with Federal Donuts to create Rooster Soup Company:

We want to use high-quality chicken backs & bones that would go to waste…

… to make delicious soup to sell

… and donate 100% of our profits to [Broad Street Ministry] dedicated to helping those in need.

Let’s break this down a bit. Broad Street Ministry is a forward thinking church in Philadelphia that does a lot more than worship. Federal Donuts is a for profit donut and chicken shop in Philadelphia. Kickstarter is a crowd-funding platform often used by artists and entrepreneurs looking for start up funds to launch the next great idea. Very few churches and religious nonprofits have used Kickstarter thus far, but visionaries at Broad Street are giving it a try. So we have a church partnering with a for profit and using a crowd-funding platform to build a new model. The pieces are all there. Federal Donuts is in because if this launches, they will not have to pay to have their backs and bones disposed of. Broad Street Ministry is in because all the proceeds from Rooster Soup Company will go back to Broad Street to fund programming. And in theory every day people like you and I are in and decide to support them by funding their start-up costs because we are fans of donuts, chicken, soup, less wasted food, more good ministry and smart partnerships like this one.

Young people want to see churches doing relevant work in their communities. Here is an example of a church willing to be in the community not only addressing the hunger in Philadelphia with its ministry, but also being willing to work with for profit companies in the community to create partnerships where everyone benefits. These partnerships are popping up in cities all over the US, driven by innovative leaders with a pulse on issues that need addressing via street-smart means. Check out this Kickstarter campaign and keep your eyes open in your community for new models of church partnership.

The Verbs of Everyday Living

11 Nov

Christianityisabout

This excerpt from Sunday By Sunday for November 17 seems especially apt following the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan:

“In the face of war, earthquakes, famines, plagues – the regular stuff of today’s headlines – Jesus recommends patient endurance. He has taught us how to live every day. Indeed every tragedy catches individuals in the midst of doing good, saving someone besides themselves, rescuing neighbors, helping the disabled, helping clear away wreckage. The courage of soldiers and marathon survivors inspires us as they learn to use prosthetic arms and legs.

Christianity is about the verbs of everyday living: love, share, forgive, include, speak the truth, listen, learn, build, rejoice, have compassion, go an extra mile, lend a hand.” – Joan Mitchell, CSJ

Read the full issue here.

Here is a list of ways to help the survivors of Haiyan - add other suggestions in the comments.

A prayer for those who are grieving

12 Sep

Holy One, we all have experienced times of grief and loss.

We bring those memories to you.

Heal us and teach us compassion for other who also grieve.

We offer our prayers in gratitude for your continuing love for each of us, especially when we feel lost.

Heal us, loving God.

Teach us, loving God,

the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,

the courage to change the things we can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Gospel Reflection for July 14, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

8 Jul

The story of the Good Samaritan leads Jesus to pose the question, “Which of these is your neighbor?”

The lawyer responded, “The one who treated him with compassion.”
Jesus said, “Then go and do the same.”

Luke 10.36-37

The parable stands at the heart of Jesus’ message of salvation.  In effect, Jesus tells the lawyer (and all of us) that to be saved, whole, and happy we must love God and ourselves by loving our neighbors, including those for whom we may have no understanding or liking.  Jesus asks us to act as the Samaritan does when he stops to help and heal another marginalized person, someone whose wounds and distress everyone else has ignored.  He asks us to allow compassion to change our hearts and lives.

What experiences have taught you compassion and the need to be less judgmental?

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Example of a Good Shepherd: Norman Borlaug

18 Apr

John’s gospel makes an extended comparison between Jesus and shepherds who pasture, protect, and water their flocks and who at night sleep in the opening of the sheepfold. Jesus is both the good shepherd and the gate to the sheepfold. This Sunday the Church reads from John 10, where the gospel makes this comparison.

A man died in September 2009 who like a good shepherd used his brains and energy that millions on our planet might eat.  Norman Borlaug believed food is a moral right.

Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for developing disease-resistant wheat that grew well in Mexico, India, Pakistan, and African nations where population was outrunning food production. Famine seemed inevitable when Borlaug finished his doctorate in 1942.

Gospel Reflection for February 10, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

7 Feb

Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Don’t be afraid.  From now on you will be catching people instead of fish.”  Luke 5.10

The miraculous catch of fish in Sunday’s gospel moves Peter to a confusing response, “Leave me Lord.  I am a sinful man.”  Why should someone tell a teacher to leave when he or she has only begun learning what a teacher has to teach?  Jesus seems to understand the fear of the community of faith, represented in Peter, a fear of learning too much and being asked too much.

Jesus commission Peter in this humbled state, “From now on, you will be catching people.”  Peter knows future catches will come as the miraculous catch of fish has come, namely, in response to the word of God.

To what is God calling people today?  To what are people responding?

Catholic Relief Services

16 Nov

As stated in this week’s Sunday By Sunday: Many people in our world need help to survive.

AIDS has left thousands of children in Africa without parents. Learn about Catholic Relief Service’s response to these problems:

Catholic Relief Services works in over 30 countries throughout Africa and strives to enhance human dignity, empower the people that it helps and strengthen and support partner organizations. CRS achieves this by working in the areas of food security, peace building, HIV and AIDS, civil society building, Emergency Response and health among others.

Read more

Gospel Reflection for November 11, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

5 Nov

Jesus was teaching in the temple and spoke out against the scribes being showy in their faith, looking for status.

Jesus said, “I want you to observe that this poor widow gave more to the treasury than all the others.  They gave from their loose change what they could spare.  But she in her poverty gave the pennies she had to live on.”

Mark 12.43-44

The scribes in this Sunday’s gospel seem unable to penetrate the heart of the law.  They like to benefit from their positions as respected teachers, even at the expense of powerless people like widows.  Jesus warns people to beware of such self-centered, greedy teachers.

Jesus values authentic faith and piety.  He values the widow’s simple gift more than long, public prayers for show.  The widow is like Jesus himself, who gives his entire life for love of God and neighbor.

In what measure are you a Christian in appearance?  In what measure an authentic Christian?

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Gospel Reflection for November 4, 2012, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

30 Oct

One of the scribes asked Jesus which was the greatest of all the commandments.

Jesus answered, “The greatest of all the commandments is ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord your God is Lord alone. Therefore, love the Lord your God with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandments are greater than these.”

Mark 12.29-31

For Jesus, as for all good Jews, no religious obligation is more sacred than keeping the Law of Moses, the commands of the Torah, all 613 of them. The Pharisees saw this as an easy way to entrap Jesus—get him to pick one commandment as the greatest, then he accuse him of being soft on all the others.

But Jesus chooses wisely. He gives them, and gives us in a couple sentences his epitaph. It is his summation of what it’s all about, what the meaning of his whole life boils down to. Love God and your neighbor as yourself.

What might your epitaph be?

Bread for the World Encourages Congregations – Bread for the World: Have Faith. End Hunger.

19 Oct

“The past two years have been particularly tenuous for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world, as the programs that support them remain at risk for deep budget cuts,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “With the presidential election fast approaching, Christians should understand the issues and take part in God’s work to end hunger.”

Bread for the World Encourages Congregations – Bread for the World: Have Faith. End Hunger..

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