Monday, February 5, 2018

A Note From Tracy Hipps: Influencing Culture with Kingdom Values

Tracy Hipps; CSM Executive Director
I have been asked so many times "what is your big goal at CSM?" and I say, “To influence culture with Kingdom values.” What does this mean? It means to be a part of changing people’s minds and thoughts about God and His Word. Our view of God is so messed up! We base our view of Him on our view of fathers and leaders in our culture. Yet God’s love is deep and His arms are open for all. His power is strong, and His arms are around us. His justice is fair, and He guides us down the path of righteousness. His grace is so forgiving of all sin and His mercy is everlasting to receive just us as we are today.

We influence our culture by living out the values God shows us in his Word. We influence our culture by loving Him with all our heart, all our minds, all our souls. and all our strength. We influence people by proclaiming the name of Jesus to a dark and dying world. We influence our culture by loving others the way Christ loved us. Living out the values that Christ lived is the one thing that will change our cultural influence; seeing people with the eyes of Christ as His workmanship created in Christ Jesus, listening to people and affirm the value they are to Christ and to us, spending time with them no matter what the case or story, knowing we are all made in the image and likeness of God, and treating people as brothers and sisters no matter what.

We influence our culture by recognizing the beautiful uniqueness of all humans, revealing the creative working of God’s hand on all mankind. The differences between us does not make any difference in the way God loves us or in how we should love others. We are called to open our arms and embrace others to influence them with the values Christ lived— NOW!

CSM is in a unique position in our city to influence culture without compromising our values. ‘Christian’ is in our name and represents our values as Christ-followers— expressing to everyone, no matter what, that we love you and want to be in relationship with you. We love you and will share with you why we hold to these values so deeply and why we are committed to live out these values. We want to influence culture with kingdom values to transform our city. We believe this will be the only thing that will permanently change lives in our city.  

CSM has been around for 48 years now. In 2010, we worked with 200+ volunteers. But as the focus of our ministry has shifted to establishing multiple partnerships and mobilizing thousands of volunteers, our influence in the city has been exponentially multiplied. Since that time, we have seen God doing great things as over 200,000 volunteers have joined hands with us to influence our culture with eternal, Kingdom values! YOU are the primary resource we connect with the deep needs in our city.

Volunteers Get a New Look at BHM in the New Year

Visiting CSM volunteers were mesmerized by stories from Alabama citizens
who grew up as members of the historic Bethel Baptist Church during the
Civil Rights era. A UCONN student was excited to meet Mrs. Annie Ruth Gunn. 

New houses, new families, new relationships, and a fresh new look at Birmingham history. Add it all up, stir in a couple of student groups from Niceville, Florida and the University of Connecticut and you've got a recipe for another incredible week at Christian Service Mission!

This past week, we had the privilege of hosting a group of high school students— half from Florida and half foreign exchange students from China— and a college group from Connecticut during the same week. With a total number of 84 students with us last week, we were able maximize our youth volunteer power to accomplish a ton of work alongside our partners at Bethel Baptist in Collegeville, as well as with other friends of CSM.

Students praying with Tamika and Jay at the house dedication
Our CSM friends, Tamika and Jay, worked with our Floridian group to help clean up and prepare one of our houses in Ensley so they could move into this past Wednesday! With the cleaning talents of high school group, the decorating talents of our interior design volunteers and of course the blessing of the Lord, we were able to ready the house with furniture, artwork and more to turn that house into a home for Tamika and Jay within the first three days of last week. We celebrated the house dedication last week, and the couple now has a new home!

 With the UCONN group, we painted and prepared a house in Collegeville across the street from our partners at Bethel Baptist Church. With the help of Bethel, Mountain Brook Community Church and our friends from UCONN, we were able to paint an entire house in one day and begin a siding project on another house right down the street!

Dr. Martha Boyer teaches students from around the
country and the world who come to CSM as volunteers
about how Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and the
Alabama Civil Rights Movement impacted our culture
On top of all of the work we accomplished, we also had the opportunity for all of these students to hear from our friend Martha Boyer at Bethel Baptist. Miss Martha does an excellent tour and history lesson of Bethel Baptist, Fred Shuttlesworth and the transitions that our city has seen over its history. She also brought in several guests who not only lived during segregation and the Civil Rights era, but who had an impact during that time alongside of Pastor Fred Shuttlesworth as well! It was such a treat and an incredible experience for all of us who were in attendance. (More photos below)

With great projects, great teaching and a host of enlightening and encouraging discussions all throughout the week, we were blessed to see another awesome opportunity for us to partner with these volunteer groups, our church partners and our God to see lives changed in our city and beyond! To Him be all the glory!

Thomas Wilder, Pastor of Bethel Baptist for over twenty years

We have the opportunity to share our vision for unity in Christ
with students and volunteers from so many places and cultures
Students documented their visit to and love for Birmingham 

Michael shares stories with elders from Bethel Baptist

A Big Reveal and House Dedication

The overwhelming Big Reveal for Tamika and Jay

There are times when CSM's connecting resources with needs can take your breath away. On Wednesday, January 10th, we were all part of the joyful blessing as we celebrated a home dedication with a family in Ensley, Alabama  Jay and Tamika have been friends with CSM for some time and when we learned about their desire to own their own home we were grateful for the opportunity to partner with them so they could take the next steps into home ownership.

Charging the couple with a new path of leadership
Within a couple of months, Jay and Tamika were ready to move in. With the help of a group of students from Niceville and our decorating-expert/house-warming volunteers, the house quickly became a home. One of the lead volunteers, Jane Anne Stone, gathered all of the furniture and decorations to fully furnish the home in just a couple of weeks. She said it was incredible to see the Lord work and provide in ways above and beyond what was expected. Jane Anne started with a rug and some furniture from the CSM warehouse. When she asked her friends on Facebook if they wanted to donate anything for the home, she received offers within minutes. Not only was the donated furniture exactly what was needed, it also matched the rug, and other furniture perfectly.

The way all these details came together as people so willingly surrounded this couple, was a perfect reminder that the Lord cares for even the smallest details of our lives, and that He is able to provide for everything we need. Tracy Hipps challenged everyone there, and before entering their new home, Jane Anne and Tracy prayed over Jay and Tamika for Holy protection, guidance, and wisdom in the endeavor of owning a home for the first time. Over the next two years, we will continue in our relationship with Jay and Tamika to support and mentor them to achieve their family and financial goals.

— Written by Riley Cowell who is interning with CSM from Fall 2017-May 2018 as she pursues her Masters of Social Work from Samford University.

Jane Anne lights the candles in preparation for the Big Reveal

The house was move-in ready for the family

Tracy could hardly contain his excitement to see their reaction

Tamika and Jay were not expecting so many people to be there to celebrate

Tamika hugging her cheerleader - Jamie Leo! 

Tamika's parents were there in support of this new life chapter

Jane Anne praying over Tamika and Jay with Rhonda in agreement

Tracy challenges the couple and the crowd

Everyone lays hands on Tamika and Jay as Tracy dedicates the house to God

A hand-forged cross is hung above the door

Rhonda opens the door for the Big Reveal

Tamika's breath is taken away!

Rhonda accepts Tamika's gratitude

A sweet couple about to embark on a new chapter

Rhonda and Jane Anne in the completely furnished
and decorated master bedroom - a job well done!

Cooking Well Coffee Hour at eMeals

Cooking together to capture the experience we create for Cooking Well students
This past week we introduced Cooking Well to community and faith leaders at the eMeals Headquarters in the test kitchen for coffee and dessert while various aspects of the collaboration between CSM, eMeals and Samford were illuminated. Twenty women gathered around the kitchen island to experience cooking together in the same fashion as a CW class and began to see how that non-threatening environment fosters immediate camaraderie. With the aroma of dark chocolate and honey filling the room, everyone waited for the dessert to cook while listening to a nutritional presentation by Samford graduate intern, Carolyn Copenhaver. Then all were treated to a hot-out-of-the-oven (Paleo) lava cake and coffee as a vision for unity in the city was cast.

Friends came together and new friendships
were forged around the mixing bowls

Leveraging Christian Service Mission’s multiple strong relationships with and access to the underserved communities of Birmingham and partnership with the Nutrition and Dietetics Department of Samford University, Cooking Well is a collaboration with eMeals, Inc. and now a fully operational hands-on cooking course.
The program is designed to teach cooking skills, nutrition and the importance of family-centered meals, while aiming to unite people in our city and break cultural barriers.

Many of our class participants live in food deserts, and we have encountered participants facing serious health concerns including cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, diabetes and hypertension. Most participants have expressed a sincere hunger for nutritional and healthful food preparation knowledge. During the class, the participants are introduced to new tastes, ideas, cooking techniques, and important life skills that would lead them to eat more healthfully and make better food choices to nourish their families.

Each six-week session culminates in a graduation dinner where the participants are recognized with a certificate of achievement. Gathering around a cook surface to prepare food and then enjoying the food we prepared is unifying in unexpected ways. Week after week, we witness the uniting power of food and conversation around the table— listening and learning from each other.

Fresh produce and herbs from the CSM gardens and aquaponics greenhouses are available to the program when in season. Groceries and necessary items for each class are purchased with benevolent funds. As the program grows to reach more communities, we are looking to expand our sponsorship and volunteer base and hope to build a teaching kitchen on the Christian Service Mission campus. You are invited to join us at the table as well!

Contact Cooking Well Director, Judy Vann, for more information:   205|563|6203
Mixing and mingling in the eMeals kitchen before we began the evening

Jenny Cochran, "The heart and soul of eMeals is to strengthen the family,
and we believe that Cooking Well is doing that as well."
The cooking commenced - Paleo Chocolate Lava Cakes for dessert
Paula and Charlot have the recipe for a happy evening

Cooking Well instructor, Allie Sanderson
and CSM's Jamie Barnhart

CSM Food Ministry takes on 2018!

CSM helped Son Light Outreach served over 3,700 families during the holidays

As we wrapped up 2017, Christian Service Mission was on track to expand even more in the coming year and to serve more and more people in our many partner communities.

In the month of December, CSM stayed very active in these communities and was involved in a number of ministries that are lifting their communities in the context of relationship and responsible care. In the spirit of connecting our time and the abundant resources God has provided us, we are able to work with our strategic partners to make this Christmas season special for those in our community. The STAIR program, spearheaded by Norman and Janet Dickson, partnered with Fresh Air Farms and Highland Presbyterian Church to deliver Christmas food baskets to students and their families.

In this time of abundance, we need to remember those who are without. Through our partnership with Son Light Ministries, over 3,700 families were served in Chilton, Dallas, Perry, and Wilcox counties. Christian Service Mission brought food and other supplies by the truck load to those in need during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. From our partnership with the Mayor’s Office, Christian Service Mission was able to provide food for two employees. Both of the employees were incredibly thankful for this blessing of food and time with their families.
Distribution to families struggling with
food security in Selma, Alabama

Christian Service Mission was able to help another partner over 2017 by providing weekly snacks to those involved in many different ministries and organizations. Throughout the year, Christian Service Mission provided snacks to Workshops trainee programs. Workshops provides a variety of vocational training for people with disabilities and believe that everyone has something to contribute to our community. In the spirit of giving, we partnered with St. Mary’s Episcopal, Regenerate Society Ministry, and Pathway’s Women Shelter to provide snack food items as well as Christmas gifts, winter clothes, and toiletries to those in need in our community.

Looking forward to 2018, Christian Service Mission is staying busy and will continue to link resources with need in the Birmingham community. We have our annual Mother’s Day Event as well as Thankserving Events to look forward to this year. Our partnership with Pepper Place and The Farmers Market will continue to bring fresh produce to those who are food insecure and living in food deserts in Birmingham. The food drives from our partnerships with local businesses and schools will provide vital food supplies to those in the area. Generous donations of snack food, as well as food coming from our own aquaponic and hydroponic gardens, will be used in a variety of programs including the STAIR summer program and other summer camps in the area.

Thank you for your support of Christian Service Mission’s Food Ministry in 2017. In 2018, we hope to continue to be the Lord’s hands and feet in the Birmingham area and to continue to love all, serve all, and connect the resources available to us with the needs of the people in Birmingham.

Students from Penn State helping with food distribution

Ready to serve residents on fixed income at
Princeton Towers