Thursday, April 26, 2012

Marking the Place of Sin and Grace

Marking the Place of Sin and Grace: The Meaning of Our City Monuments

What do the monuments in your city represent?

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Reaching Homeless Teens in Denver

Did you know that the national average age of a homeless person is 9 years old?  Children and teens are not exempt from finding themselves without a home. And, along with the other hardships that people face in this situation, homeless children can also face the embarrassment of being teased and misunderstood by their peers because they are homeless. Having strong mentors in their lives are an important way children and teens can find support, encouragement and love.  

The Joshua Station is a place offering this, and much more, to the youth living at their transitional shelter. Check out this video to see an interview with Ben and Nicole, the Joshua Station Youth Pastors...  

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Answering the Call to Pray

"What we really need," Mark told our group, looking out over the park, "is for the churches to pray, not as denominations, but as one in the Body of Christ."  We were standing on the edge of a green park in Center City that was home to many each night.  But with new construction projects all over the area, the sleeping quarters were slowly dwindling.

Mark told us that he was voluntarily homeless, staying out here with the guys to learn how his church could better serve the poor in the city.  He stood with another man and we all talked for a while about the area.  I asked them how they felt about the new regulation that City Council had passed that banned large outdoor feeding of the homeless in the area.  They talked about how the people were still living there, for now, until the fencing went up.  

"But then they'll put that wire up, and that will be it," said the other man.  We asked him what he thought of the regulation, how it made him feel that he wouldn't be able to sleep there anymore.  "It doesn't really matter what I think," he told us.  "They've decided, so it doesn't matter what I feel."

We stood for a few minutes in silence looking around at the park and the collection of people there, belongings claiming spots, cardboard structures being built.

"You know what I think?" Mark chimed in.  "I think that this regulation will force churches to action.  They'll have to pray even harder now for a solution to homelessness."  Then he went on to outline what he thought would make a good homeless shelter.  "People could have a place to stay, and then maybe a park outside where people could hang out.  They could eat inside, too, all together."

The problem seemed all too big for our little group, but Mark continued to explain that since Jesus prayed for us to be unified, we could do it.  If we all prayed as one, we could do it.  He spoke to us with hope, as a man who knew that he and those he was serving deserved a place to call home at night.

-Nicole Engelhardt, CSM Philadelphia Apprentice

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to Abandon 'Homeless People'

Here are some great questions to ask while watching the video*:

How does the descriptor 'friends who live outside' change the way you think about homeless men and women? 

How has the phrase "homeless people" been used to dignify others—or to keep them at arms' length? 

And how are Christians in your own city reaching across traditional barriers to form real community like the kind Speelman has?

Learn how YOU can serve new "friends who live outside" through CSM!

How to Abandon 'Homeless People' by Nathan Clarke 12/16/11

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Serving by Jesus' Example

During Holy Week in NYC last week, one of our groups had the amazing opportunity to work at one of our favorite sites, St. Paul the Apostle's Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen.  They were able to work side by side with Cardinal Dolan, during his visit to also serve at St. Paul the Apostle.  The group was from a Catholic High School and realized that the Cardinal was actually from their hometown in St. Louis, MO.  

To quote a recent article*, 

"In New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan along with high school volunteers from his hometown of St. Louis, M.O. distributed lunch at Saint Paul the Apostle’s soup kitchen on Columbus Avenue to the homeless and elderly.  

“On the night before he died Jesus had a meal with his best friends so I ought to be here with my friends — the homeless and the poor,” Dolan said.  

The cardinal said he is taking his example from Jesus, who washed the feet of his apostle, as he served up turkey, ham and all the fixings.  

“That’s something that a servant does, that’s something that a butler did, so here you’ve got the only begotten son of God serving and acting like a slave,” Dolan said. “I said on Holy Thursday I ought to be serving people.”  

“We’re at our best when we give ourselves away in love and service to somebody else,” he added.  

The cardinal calls Holy Week and Easter a time of service and renewal."

It couldn't have been more perfect!  Check out a great clip of the students working along side the Cardinal...

-Jami Howard, CSM New York Associate City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in New York City!

*"Dolan Spreads Message Of Service At Soup Kitchen On Holy Thursday" CBS New York, April 5, 2012

Monday, April 09, 2012

Living Lent: Jay Fincher

Living Lent: Answering the Call to Love and Serve the City
Throughout the 2012 Lenten season, we will be highlighting a few of CSM's wonderful staff team members and asking the question "Why do you work for CSM?" This week, we introduce Jay Fincher, CSM Denver Staff.

I love working for CSM and serving the city of Denver because the city is a place full of such diverse people trying to find a way to co-exist and, in most cases, peacefully. The problem is, often times, self interest comes before this peaceful coexistence. This kind of self interest, especially when it comes to His church engaging the city, is not in line with Jesus' values. When that "self interest" becomes "injustice", my heart is compelled to seek Him and engage others on that journey.

I love being able to constantly learn about justice issues and having a platform to engage other believers in discussion about these injustices. Justice cannot, and will not, be obtained without Christ. We, as believers, should be the first group of people ready to discuss justice and put it into practice. Oftentimes, we trade Christ's vision of justice for the "Virtue of Selfishness" cloaked in a "you get what you deserve" version of  true justice. By working with CSM, I feel that, though I will never full attain it, I am moving closer to a proper understanding of justice and Christ's love for the marginalized.

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Easter in the Bakery

Homeboy Industries is a fantastic organization in the heart of LA. Their mission, "Jobs, not Jails" compels them to provide a multitude of services aimed to empower their community. One of their many businesses is a bakery! Check out all of the delicious Easter treats they're selling...

If you're in the Los Angeles area, we highly recommend checking them out!

Wishing you all a Happy Resurrection Day from your friends at CSM!

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Los Angeles!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Helping Without Hurting Seminar

Are you in the Houston area and interested in learning more and talk about how to empower those in your community? Check out this event that several churches and non-profits are organizing to do just that!

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Houston!

Monday, April 02, 2012

I hate poverty.

I don't always know what to do with it when I encounter it, so I often leave the face of poverty with mixed emotions. I've found it's best to journal, read, and learn from God and others around us on just how best to respond when we meet things that leave us feeling a like we may not know how to respond.  Here's a poem written by a pastor in Indiana.  Do you ever write poems, songs, or letters that you wouldn't mind sharing about tough issues you encounter?
-Robyn Elmore, CSM Washington DC City Director

Learn how YOU can serve in Washington DC with CSM!