Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving at Hamilton

Principal Downing with parent volunteers

On Monday, November 23, 12 families received Thanksgiving boxes. Kingdom Causes Long Beach coordinated the donation of 12 turkeys and sides to identified families at Hamilton Middle School. Parent volunteers decorated cardboard boxes and assembled the meals. We are truly thankful to those who contributed to blessing these 12 families in North Long Beach!
To view more pictures visit our Facebook Page.

Applying Community Development

Within the past year there has been many happenings in community development in Long Beach, so here are just a few highlights that Kingdom Causes Long Beach has been involved in. I was able to work in Linden Avenue between Market and South Street as an AmeriCorps worker. Through the Atlantic Corridor Project, I trained two interns from Victory Outreach and St. Athanasius Church in Asset Based Community Development. Together we surveyed the neighborhood to find out the top concerns of the neighborhood. At the first neighborhood meeting we reported back the neighbors and placed in their hands what they would like to do about things. The neighbors decided to attract more neighbors to the meetings by hosting a neighborhood clean up. The eighth district, Rae Gaeblich's, office sponsored the neighborhood clean up. Several neighbors donated their time, treasure, touch, and talent into the clean up. The clean up started at eight o'clock and by 9:30 AM the industrial sized dumpster was filled to the top. It was encouraging to see neighbors come together for the betterment of their neighborhood.

In Downtown Long Beach, Somatra (another AmeriCorps worker) has been convening a group of neighbors along 9th Street between Atlantic Avenue and Martin L. King Jr Street. Neighbors met, many for the first time, during barbecues at a local church parking lot. From there the neighbors starting a neighborhood meeting. Together they decided to work on neighborhood safety and wanted to become a registered neighborhood watch block. First they had their local beat police officer share about the neighborhood. Just recently, Lisa, coordinator of neighborhood watch for Long Beach, orientated the neighbors on neighborhood watch. The neighborhood is finally an official registered neighborhood watch block!

These are just a few stories from the two neighborhood Somatra and I are working in. There are so many more stories of individuals and relationships developing through our involvement with these neighborhoods. Community development is difficult work. There is no set structure, hours, or boundaries because you work where you live. It takes lots of time, commitment and love. But it is so rewarding! The relationships that I have built with my neighbors is irreplaceable. The growth within my neighbors is encouraging to witness. I get to share life with them and see them take responsibility and ownership of their neighborhood. They have great commitment and care for the community. Sadly my time with AmeriCorps is coming to an end, but my time within my community is just beginning.

Kingdom Causes Long Beach is looking for an individual who would like to work with a neighborhood in North Long Beach as an AmeriCorps worker. If you have a heart for community development, bringing neighbors together to work toward a better community, then please contact us! To learn more please see the job description at the Kingdom Causes Long Beach website.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"You've Got Mail!" - Thank You Notes for Hamilton Middle School Staff

We spent the afternoon today serving all 104 staff members at Hamilton Middle School with a piece of "fan mail". Once the staff member got over the initial shock of being interrupted in what they were doing at the time and the fact they they did not recognize the person doing the interrupting they were thrilled to be getting a letter of thanks. If you can imagine because of the difficult economic season that we are in, the principal had warned us that there might be some initial suspicion when getting a note handed to them from a complete stranger. Perfect scenario for us! Our goal was to sow into their lives in the opposite way by giving them a personalized and hand written note of thanks from a member of a local congregation that was grateful for the hard work that they are doing.
The "we" mentioned above represents individuals from a number of the local congregations that are on board with our Local Congregation/School adoption effort here at Hamilton Middle School. Big shout out to Fountain of Life, Light & Life West and Church One! While there were more local congregations present for the delivery, these are the three that took the time to write all of the "fan mail" in the weeks prior to delivery.

Because of a partnership with Staples, Kingdom Causes was also able to include a gift certificate in the "fan mail" for all of the teaching staff! We know many of them leverage their personal finances for classroom resources and we wanted to stand with them this way as well. "Thank You" and here are some dollars to help support your important work.

The love for Hamilton Middle School's staff and students continues!

Are you interested in partnering with your local neighborhood school!? Call us and we'd love to have the people we have working on this city wide effort help you get connected. To see more pictures from FanMail please visit our Facebook Page.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Homeless Hospitality Teams Forming

Our desire to see the local cause of Homelessness have a united 'Church of the City' front took another huge step last night! It was great to see a couple handfuls of local congregations represented at our Homeless Hospitality Team information meeting. To all of you - thanks for your willingness to explore this incredible possibility of being a key part of a individuals transition off of the streets! Your passion to make a tangible difference in someones life was contagious and there was great shared energy in the room. We hope to help turn a bare apartment into a furnished home for the next identified person here in the next couple weeks through the LB Connections effort. And then again. And then again. And then again!

In a season where the Lord particularly stirs the heart of His Church for those who are under-resourced here in our city, we need to be working together as local congregations. Wouldn't you agree? Is it fair to say that duplication of efforts (at "best") and haphazard random efforts (at "worst") seem to not really be getting the job done. In fact, things like congregations continuing to serve meals in the parks (which is actually illegal and is definitely not winning us any friends or partners here in the city...even on Thanksgiving!) or having multiple congregations calling us and asking if we know who they can give their "currently being collected baskets of food for needy families" to are for us confirmation that this might just be a case of best intentions that are needing just a little more coordination and focus.

(Got that off my chest. Whew. Off my soap box now. Brad)

This is where Kingdom Causes and our congregational Homeless Hospitality Teams come in! Please don't misunderstand, we are actually excited that people want to make a difference but we just want to make sure that things are done with people's actual empowerment and long term solutions in mind! There are a lot of great organizations and efforts already in motion and there is much more that can be done! The reality is that our homeless (and the almost homeless!) neighbors are facing a year round challenge right here in our city. There are many parts to this puzzle and there might be a specific role for each of us to be playing. Kingdom Causes Long Beach is here to help connect and focus our individual and city wide organizational efforts so that Kingdom resources can be maximized in the areas of serving our homeless neighbors!

For those that are still interested and were not able to make this meeting be sure to contact us if you want to learn more about how you, your small group, your business or your local congregation might get involved too! You can check out the list of needed items at the Kingdom Causes Long Beach website on the Homelessness page. Stay tuned for the next specific update about this exciting LB Connections project!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Early morning public worship and prayer

I meet with a group of people to pray over our city. We were called together by a young man named Joshua who lives in Rialto. Thus, I call us the Joshua prayer group for the sake of simplicity. We have met on a semi-regular basis since August of this year. Anyone is welcome if you have a desire to see God's Kingdom established in Long Beach and would like to join with others to pray that further into being.

Following what we believe to be our direction from God to worship publicly in the city, we, the Joshua prayer group, met for a pre-event prayer time to prepare the ground on Friday, the 23rd. We began to pray and get direction to prepare the Park for the next morning's worship time. We felt like we were raising a tent of worship and prayer covering over the park and that we were to start out facing each direction and pray into that direction, starting with the north, the east, the south and the west. We prayed both what we knew and what we felt the Lord revealed concerning each direction into the City.

October 24, 7am at Bixby Park

Intercessors from at least 5 congregations in the Southland, 2 pastors and people from Love HOP met to publicly worship our King and Lord. We believe this is the way the Lord has instructed us to wage warfare. We spoke His praise and worship, we sang to Him, and our hearts were to glorify and please Him and to make His name famous in this city. We also prayed over the two pastors who were present, David and Paul, as representatives for the pastors in the city. Pastor Paul, who spearheads the WOW jam and connects with pastors from all over the city, prayed for the city and the pastors in it when we finished praying for him. Pastor David had had a picture of a white car all rusted representing a picture of the Church as we stand, and then a picture of a white car all clean and shining, representing the Church as He intends us to be.
It turns out that one of the people that came from Whittier leads a weekly Bible study and brought them down to Bixby Park to pray before the Gay Pride parade one year. I keep hearing of people who come from afar to pray over our city.
I know many people are praying now and have prayed in the past. I would love to have a means to connect with the past in order to more effectively pray into the present.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Thanks for the support at our 2009 Golf Marathon!

To all our 2009 KC Golf Marathon support team (including those who were not able to help out this year)...Thank you!!!

We did it! We survived playing 100 holes of golf in a single day on Monday. By the 10th hole we were thinking that we really should get out more and work on our 'game'. By the 90th hole our sore back, shoulders and hands were trying to convince our brains that playing this 100 holes would be sufficient until our 6th annual marathon next October!

It actually was not really about golf. For those that were able, know that we greatly appreciate the investment of your resources in us, the organization that we work for and the numerous lives of people who we serve on a daily basis here in Long Beach. We wake up every morning knowing that we get to be part of a team that makes a tangible difference in the lives of people - and we love it! In a challenging season for so many people, where we too have had to lay off some of our staff and each personally take a pay cut for the remainder of the year, we honestly can say that we couldn't continue to do all that we do without key support from people like you - as a part of our yearly golf marathon! Every little bit helps. Thanks!

Here is a picture of most of the 26 golfers who spent the day raising money for a great cause! These people represent Kingdom Causes varioud city staff, board members, key volunteers and other friends - 1/2 of which will not pick up a club for another 12 months :)

Church Leader Prayer - Nov 2009

Pastor Wayne Chaney
Antioch Church


Leticia with her parent volunteers at Hamilton's new Parent Center

Leticia, Student Intervention Specialist for LBUSD and Youth Education Task Force Leader for KCLB, recently told me a great story that I can't wait to share. As one of her many projects for Hamilton, Leticia started a White Elephant gift exchange for the parents at Hamilton Middle School to encourage parents to continue to participate in their children's education. Jim Plante came along side Leticia and asked his neighbors to donate any items they are currently not using in their homes including kitchenware, toys, books, and laptops. One neighbor wanted to give Jim $50 dollars. Jim explained that he did not want to receive any monetary donations but household items. The neighbor insisted and Jim accepted the donation. As Jim delivered the White Elephant gifts, Leticia told him how she would like to wrap the gifts but did not have the funds to buy wrapping paper. Jim pulled out the fifty dollars his neighbor donated. A parent volunteered to purchase cellophane paper at LA in several colors! Isn't it great to hear how God provides even in the little things?!

After filter through the donated gifts, she had over forty White Elephant gifts and donated the leftovers to Goodwill. During the orientation for sixth graders, Leticia raffled off 27 gifts to families. Families met at the school's auditorium and Leticia told them that she will be raffling off gifts at the Parent Center. So a river of 200 families made their way to the new Parent Center. There were so many people Leticia had to raffle the gifts outside of the Parent Center. She made the families walk through the Parent Center first so that they would be familiar with the Parent Center. The rest of the White Elephant gifts are raffled at parent meetings in the Parent Center to encourage the parents to continue meeting. Currently the parents are transitioning from HUPA (Hamilton's United Parents in Action) to a PTSA. Please pray for this transition as the parents step into more ownership, leadership, and responsibility. Thank you, Jim Plante and his neighbors, for blessing Hamilton parents and encouraging them to care for their children's education.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

CCDA 2009 Cincinnati

"You can't rescue, save, develop everyone, but you can LOVE everyone" is one of the encouragements I am taking away from the Christian Community Development Association conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. Along several other Kingdom Causes Staff members, I attended my second CCDA conference. The mission of CCDA is to inspire, train, and connect Christians who seek to bear witness to the Kingdom of God by reclaiming and restoring under-resourced communities. I was so encouraged and inspired by my first conference in Miami, Florida, I returned again this year to gain more understanding and build greater relationships with those involved in community development. It is always encouraging to be in a room surrounded by like minded people who are pursuing God's kingdom. My favorite times were worshiping with Foster and morning bible study with John Perkins (pictured above). Perkins has the ability to rebuke and affirm with a Grandfather's love. He lives out Christ's love and I am encourage by his life as he continues to pursue God's transformation in communities. Workshops were a great time to connect with others in community development and to learn best practices. Kingdom Causes led several workshops within the week. One of my favorite speakers was Bart Campolo. He shared the real stories of community development that only the doers could connect with. Although he shared the harsh reality of communities, I saw the hope of Christ within it. We are sent to love our neighbors and it is God who changes them. I felt a release of responsibility and was humbled that God is truly the only one in control who can rescue, save, and develop people. I still have a lot to chew on and digest before I could figure out next steps within my own community. It was a refreshing time of building and spurring me on to continue within Long Beach. I will miss the beautiful fall colors of the leaves in Cincinnati.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Shift in Leadership in Long Beach

We were so excited to be a part of the celebration of Wayne Chaney being put into leadership of the Ministerial Alliance on Sunday October 25th. Many pastors, civic leaders and congregations joined to celebrate this momentous occasion. Deputy Chief Luna, LBUSD representatives, and Fire Department presented awards to Pastor Wayne as a sign of their appreciation and support. Pray for Pastor Wayne as he begins to walk this new level of leadership in our city. If you are in church leadership please join us as we pray for Pastor Wayne Chaney November 4th.

Father Bill Thompson became ordained as the first Bishop Bill Thompson of the Diocese of Western Anglicans at a ceremony held at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach on October 31st. Many leaders from parishes around the country were in attendance to witness this historic event including leaders from Uganda and Canada. Bishop Thompson said his “greatest challenge as Bishop will be to expand the Kingdom of God through evangelism and church planting. This is vital for the diocese and for those in Southern California who do not know the Lord.” Bishop Thompson will continue as Rector of All Saints’ Anglican Church in Long Beach in addition to being Bishop of the Diocese of Western Anglicans.
To view pictures from the ceremony click below