Community Building

22 JULY 2017

“We Are Bringing the Veteran Community Together”

Do you know how many veterans live, work, and worship in your community? The first step toward finding out might be fairly simple:  Gather them together. Several years ago, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts began to reach out to veterans through its Building Bridges Veterans Initiative.  Every Wednesday, about 45-50 veterans gather at the […]

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14 JULY 2017

Don’t Just Serve, Make Friends

Kevin Frank, Director of the Brady Faith Center in Syracuse (NY) told me of the importance of building friendships when I spoke with him about his ministry with a low income neighborhood on the city’s South Side. “Before Pope Francis was pope he was bishop in Argentina. And the people in his cathedral said to […]

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Missions giving can be increased through planning
16 JUNE 2017

How To Increase Missions Giving

Herb Miller, author of The New Consecration Sunday Stewardship Guide, has consulted with thousands of congregations on ways to increase financial giving.[1] Here are a few tips from Miller on how to raise more money for local and global missions.[2] Permit several special offerings each year—to a variety of denominational and local community causes. Stewardship—effective […]

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People of diverse cultures and backgrounds holding hands
10 JUNE 2017

How To Build Community Between Immigrants And Non-immigrants

A good many congregations are located in communities that are changing demographically. The influx of immigrants into the neighborhood might present a unexpected challenge, particularly when these new Americans come from parts of the world known only through news media reports, not real life experience. Intercambio, a non-profit organization in Boulder, Colorado, sponsors English education […]

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20 MAY 2017

How Small Congregations Can Serve the Community

Sometimes people ask, “What can we do?  We are a small congregation!  Here are two examples of two congregations that leveraged their resources to change the community for the better. St John’s: Building Partnerships “St. John’s United Church of Christ is a ethnic church in Aurora, Illinois, that has about twenty people in worship on […]

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8 APRIL 2017

Best Practices for Short-Term Mission Trips

“First do no harm” is a rule that applies not only to medical practice but to short-term mission trips. Given the obvious challenges involved in shuttling a group of volunteers to a distant community with an unfamiliar culture, it cannot be stressed enough that mistakes can happen, with perhaps long-lasting consequences for mission participants or […]

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31 MARCH 2017

Where To Go on Mission Trips?

When initiating a short-term mission trip overseas, the most important decision may be the first: where should we go? Here are two possibilities: Take advantage of a personal connection.  This may be someone who knows the community because they have been there, either as a tourist, as part of a mission trip, or because of […]

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Transgender Facts (Infographic)

Facts matter.  I’m reposting this infographic in light of a Trump Administration decision to remove protections for transgender students’ use of bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. Spiritual leaders and congregations can become allies of transgender individuals by getting to know them and their stories and by advocating for their safety.  Everyone has the right […]

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16 FEBRUARY 2017

Supporting Immigrants Right From Baptism

A Catholic priest serving a culturally mixed parish, with both native-born and immigrant members, found a way to strengthen support for newborn immigrants in his charge.  The key:  linking that support to the rite of baptism. Father Dajean served six rural Mississippi parishes—four Hispanic and two Anglo that were both geographically and socially distant. The […]

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Church mission trip to Dominican Republic
9 FEBRUARY 2017

How Mission Trips Challenge Us

Do mission trips really do any good, or are they simply “faith-based tourism” masquerading as meaningful engagement? In point of fact, such trips can help Americans challenge long-held cultural assumptions. Short-term mission is hugely popular among American congregations. Sociologist Robert Wuthnow estimates that 32% of American congregations sponsor short-term overseas volunteer trips every year.[1]

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