Thursday, June 29, 2017

CSM Helps Launch Two New Summer Camps

Learning and having fun this summer at Bethel Baptist Kids's Camp
"Camp brings hope and positivity to the kids." Pastor Thomas Wilder, Bethel Baptist Church

This summer we have had an incredible opportunity to dig in a little deeper into several of our city-wide partnerships. One door that the Lord has opened is through summer camps for kids! Working with True Vine Evangelical Church in Inglenook and Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville, we are producing two brand new summer learning camps for Kindergarten through 8th graders. Local church leadership, interns, and CSM summer volunteer groups from around the country are mobilized and joining hands together to create a safe, healthy, and exciting learning environment. Both camps have focused on reading, writing and math with a lot of physical education to go along with it!

Each site has at least two CSM summer interns working as a strategic part of these two churches' staff. Our interns are intentional about deepening the relationships each church is developing in the communities that they serve through Camp Hope and Camp Bethel. We interviewed Pastor Thomas Wilder to get his perspective on the new summer camp at Bethel Baptist:
Bethel Snack Factory

What has fired you up to start a kid's camp here at Bethel Baptist?
Kids need something to do in summer because that means that they are less likely to get in trouble. The camp also offers a chance for the church to extend our ministry to the kids while they are at the camp. This allows the kids to be in a positive environment outside of just Sunday. Also, there at the kid’s camp, the kids are getting up to date on what they are learning in school, if they are behind, and if not, then it reinforces what they learned that year so that the kids can be ahead of the curve when they get back to school in the fall.

Do you see this as a part of your strategy for community development?
Yes, absolutely. Part of community development effects culture and not just the visible neighborhood. Building a building in three months doesn’t change the culture. Changing culture takes longer than throwing up buildings. To change the culture, you have to develop the people in the community.

Do you feel this is making an impact?
One on one at Bethel
Yes. The kids even come up and say that it’s making a difference. One time, 40 years ago, a man who attended Bethel and helped with VBS at the church, wrote Bethel a check to keep the VBS program running because it was making an impact. We are here to introduce people to Jesus Christ and have a personal relationship with Him and also to see the possibilities in the world. There was a young girl and a mom who attended Bethel and one Sunday the mom told the young girl to go to church. On the way to church, the young girl’s mom overdosed back at the house and was taken to the hospital. Years later, the young girl was able to earn her Master’s Degree and continue to move forward because of the positive influences she found at Bethel. We want camp to bring hope and positivity to these kids.

Thanks to Pastor Wilder for sharing his heart with us. We are privileged to partner with him. Next newsletter will feature Pastor Ralph Garth's review of the new summer camp results at True Vine. Stay tuned!

CSM Intern, Josh Hubbard, tutoring a camper at Bethel

CSM Intern Victoria Lawson leading True Vine Summer Camp

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Note From Tracy Hipps: The Impact of the Gospel

This year we have seen the power of God manifested in all that we do. We saw the power of God meet the exact needs of 800 children in a Title One School with miracle pops. We were a part of touching more than 1,300 moms for Mother’s Day and able to serve an awesome meal from The Fish Market and Grace’s Kitchen to 120 moms from 15 different organizations at South Highlands Presbyterian Church. The part that we love more than sharing resources is the gospel that is proclaimed and displayed in all of these places. Lashundra Smith, a mom of four who has been in a wheelchair for almost a decade as result of domestic violence, shared how the power of God has worked in her life. Former Chief Nunn of Birmingham blessed us with her powerful voice before we honored Ms. Smith’s mother for the blessing she has been to her daughter. It truly has been a remarkable season here at CSM.

Summer is our busiest time and each year KAA camp marks the starting point. This is the best week of my year, and I am always so excited to see what God will do with the kids and adults who attend. This was my 27th year to take a group to KAA, loading 100 people the first week of June on to buses for an overnight ride to Missouri. Willie Banks, our Warehouse Manager, at the age of 51, experienced summer camp for the first time! The best part was that his son also attended and they were able to share the amazing experience together. We also partnered with the Birmingham Police department who identified some children who truly needed to experience the power of God. The camp counselors poured into them and their lives will never be the same. We also had the privilege of watching 17 kids come to or recommit to Christ. It is always amazing to see the power of the gospel displayed and people moved in a powerful and life-changing way. We now have new disciples for Christ and it is our goal to make sure we produce multiplying disciples. Each of these students will continue to be mentored by their leaders and will walk with them long-term to see them grow in their relationship with the Lord.

This summer we are working with multiple camps that involve more than 500 children and 40 groups throughout Birmingham inner city. We have two new camps this year, and we are invested in making the process positive for the sponsoring churches and the children attending. These students are continuing with their school studies, learning about Christ, and having A LOT of fun. We are excited to work with these kids each day and help them have a great summer.

TSA staff present Tracy with a check.
A disciple who will make other disciples is called a disciple-maker. We are so committed to this that we have 10 college age interns who are working at four of our church partners. These students are learning about inner-city ministry, working in churches, and holistic community development. A local company, TSA, sponsored a golf tournament in our honor and the proceeds allowed us to recruit these interns to make a big impact in the city this summer. We have seen some amazing results in just a few weeks as we have invested time into our interns so that they in turn impact our city working alongside CSM staff and ministry partners.  Disciple-making is the objective for the summer in our city, so that we multiply the impact for the internal and external change of lives in the city.

The summer requires an intense amount of planning to make all that we want to happen successful. For years, a key component to this success was a dedicated prayer team who met and prayed for the city and our work monthly. This year we had several experience health issues and they are no longer able to meet. We now have several teams of people praying for CSM but we need your support in prayer to do all that we believe God had called us to do. Just this past week, the tornado affected several areas of our communities and we were ready to serve the very next day. Relief and recovery efforts will be on-going, particularly in the Fairfield area where we work with community partners. Please pray that we are empowered to multiply the Gospel impact these last few weeks of summer and into the fall.

Cooking Well and "Commensality"

The launch of the new CSM six-week program, Cooking Well, involves messy hands, a tasty meal, and sweet conversation around the dinner table at True Vine Ministries in North Birmingham and New Rising Star in East Lake. The classes kicked off with focus on preparing a healthy and balanced plate using the USDA MyPlate guidelines. The first week, students learned basic cooking skills while preparing a meal of salmon with mango salsa, zucchini/squash sauté (fresh from the CSM Garden Center) and brown rice pilaf.

CSM Nutrition intern, Allie Sanderson, teaches the cooking skills and nutrition segments of the class, while Jane DeLaney and Jenny Cochran of demonstrate their finely tuned culinary skills and pull the meal together for everyone to share around the dining table. It is that magic of "commensality" that we find starts to break down walls, and open the door for relationship and deeper truths to be shared.

Learning how to choose leaner and cleaner proteins, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables are an example of the many lessons that Cooking Well includes. Student also gain valuable knowledge of meal planning, eating healthy on a budget, and living a more balanced life. This hands-on-experience ultimately aims to foster community and create a sustainable model for infusing health throughout Birmingham. We are thrilled with the results and feedback so far. If you are interested in volunteering as a Cooking Well nutrition, culinary or kitchen assistant, please contact Judy Vann.

Cooking Well together in the True Vine church kitchen
Knife skills taught with produce harvested from the CSM gardens

Jenny Cochran, eMeals co-founder and culinary wizard,
excited to be hands-on with the first Cooking Well class
Allie Sanderson, CSM Nutrition intern from Samford
and Cooking Well instructor par excellence
Jesse Kennedy serving the lunch according to
MyPlate proportions with a big smile

Meet Our Summer Interns!

 CSM interns (l-r) Daniel Horton, Trayvon Williams, Allie Sanderson, 
Tim Bonvillain, Victoria Lawson(f), Emily Farley, Joshua Hubbard 
(not pictured: Katelyn Hayes, Brock Fogle Ben Vickers)

This is an amazing summer around CSM. We have TEN talented and passionate students and recent grads spread to different CSM summer camps and partner ministries, under the direction of our Volunteer Coordinator, Michael Bowen. They are pouring their hearts into their CSM assignments, investing in lives around the city and have become a core part of the CSM culture! Meet our crew...

Brock Fogle
Brock Fogle is a rising senior at Samford University where he is pursuing a degree in Economics and Social Entrepreneurship.  Brock is originally from White House, Tennessee.  In the future, Brock hopes to work in urban economic development, while partnering with local churches.  A fun fact about Brock is he is 6 feet 7 inches tall and yes, he did play basketball.  This summer Brock is assisting in team coordinating for CSM and launching the kids camp at True Vine Evangelical Ministries.

Allie Sanderson
Allie Sanderson is a rising senior at Samford University, majoring in Nutrition and minoring in Religion. She is originally from St. Louis, Missouri.  In the future, Allie hopes to work with impoverished populations around the world, addressing the issues of hunger and malourishment. She has a deep love for dark chocolate and for all outdoor adventures. This summer, Allie is helping launch the new CSM program, Cooking Well, where she has the privilege of teaching women in local churches about cooking and healthy eating.

Ben Vickers
Ben Vickers is a rising freshman at Rhodes College, majoring in Biology as a pre-medicine student. Ben is originally from Birmingham, Alabama. A little known fact about Ben is he played the violin for five years. This summer, Ben is investing in his city by working at the kids camp at Bethel Baptist Church Collegeville.

Daniel Horton
Daniel Horton is a rising sophomore at Lawson State Community College, originally from Birmingham, Alabama.  Daniel is studying Building Construction. Aside from his interest in construction, Daniel has been riding horses for 14 years and has his very own horse. This summer Daniel is assisting CSM in many building projects across Birmingham, with the ultimate goal of pointing people to Christ.

Victoria Lawson
Victoria Lawson is a rising senior Religion Major at Samford University. She is from a small town in Wilcox County Alabama, called Catherine. She is currently working on her first book/devotional, she loves to sing, and she claims to be a member of the grammar police. Victoria is spending her summer at True Vine Evangelical Ministries where she is helping launch their kids camp program.

Tim Bonvillain
Tim Bonvillain is from Damascus Maryland, where he graduated early from his high school a year ago. Tim plans on attending community college in Maryland starting in the Fall and hoping the Lord will lead him in choosing a major. His favorite color is blue and he loves the water, whether it is the beach, the pool, or a puddle. Tim has been an intern at CSM throughout the year and has now moved into his role as social media intern for the summer, for which he is documenting the different kids camps and other CSM programs and projects across Birmingham.  

Katelyn Hayes
Katelyn Hayes is a rising senior at Samford University, majoring in Health Sciences and minoring in Business and Religion. Katelyn is originally from Decatur, Alabama. She hopes to pursue a career in medical ministry administration. A fun fact about Katelyn is she loves hedgehogs. This summer, Katelyn is working at True Vine Evangelical Ministries and helping launch the kids camp.

Joshua Hubbard
Josh Hubbard is a recent graduate of Gardendale High School.  Josh plans on attending college in the Fall to study Athletic Training. Josh is originally from Birmingham, Alabama. This summer, he is working at Bethel Baptist Church Collegeville by assisting in the kids camp, tutoring and making lasting relationships.

Travon Williams
Travon is native to Georgia and came to us through Campus Outreach and Urban Hope Church. He is serving in Fairfield this summer with Camp Hope at Fairfield Schools.

Emily Farley
Emily Farley is a rising sophomore Collaborative Education Major/Spanish Minor at Birmingham Southern College. She is originally from Huntsville, Alabama. She hopes to enter the mission field after graduating from BSC and travel wherever the Lord calls her to teach little hearts about the love of Jesus. In her free time, she loves to read! Emily adores the mission of CSM and is honored to be working with such a wonderful ministry. This summer, Emily is working at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church teaching her very own class of pre-K students.  

Lunches during orientation

Visiting and learning about our partner community gardens from Farmer Michael

Planning and teaching time with Jesse Kennedy, Intern Program Assistant

Weekly study and prayer time with Michael Bowen