Friday, June 28, 2019

A Note From Tracy Hipps: A Place In His Plan

Executive Director, Tracy Hipps
I am currently in the Old Testament reading in Chronicles about the kings of Israel, and the kings of Judah. The description of each king says how long they served and if they followed the Lord. There were hundreds of years that they did not follow the Lord, and then there is a period that that particular king did obey the Lord. There were degrees that they obeyed and limits in their following. David is an example of one who followed the Lord, and Jeroboam is an example of one who did not. In all the years, the Lord had a plan in place, and each of these men had their season. Every day I pause, now that I am in a position of leadership, asking to be one who follows the Lord and His plan. We set a course and an example for those who follow us. We have a small window of time for our lives to matter, and it is vital that we are following God’s grand story and plan.

Nine years ago, the Lord allowed me this season of leadership, and I want to follow with a commitment to Him. He has a grand plan, and I believe He has made a place for us in this. I trust the Bible when it says, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.” Psalm 37:23.

The team the Lord has brought to CSM is impressive in every way because they are the right team with the right hearts for God. Each has a place in this grand plan God has established for CSM here in Avondale and Birmingham. It is not my grand plan. It is God’s grand plan, and He gives us a place to serve together. As we build this model here in Birmingham, we pray the Lord would guide us every day. We believe we are building something that lives past us and will continue to impact the city and His Kingdom. Together we serve the Lord, making Kingdom warriors in this battle to live out the Gospel in this broken world.

I am honored to be a part of a team of people who see past all the impurities to serve with pure motives and desire to see the Kingdom built. We follow our Lord together in the steps He orders for us each day as we influence hundreds this summer in making a difference in our city with churches, organizations, and marginalized people. This team that He has assembled has seen mountains move, the weather cleared, needs met, and God honored every day in our city. Our God uses our resources, our time, our talent, and our treasures to participate in His grand plan and gives us a place to glorify Him, together.  

This week alone, we have the opportunity to mobilize over 150 people each day, affecting hundreds of lives. However, the testimony of one-person yesterday was “my eyes looked into a child’s eyes, and they smiled” this is moving. To spend the week serving our city with our team leading and setting the standard for the next generation with the example of King David for years to come. Today, our great team will begin a new day with a great heart to set standards for others to follow, as David sought after the heart of God. We know and believe we were put here to proclaim the Gospel to see a Kingdom impact.

It's Summertime At CSM

Riverchase UMC youth praying before they start work at the schools
Summer is one of our most favorite times at CSM because we have weekly groups who come from all over the greater Birmingham area and throughout the US to serve with us. We love getting to know these groups and several come yearly, and it is so fun to see them grow and hear what they have learned and how God is working their lives. Primarily the groups this summer are working on roofs and decks in Birmingham city and in public and private schools getting them ready for the new school year. Most of the homeowners are elderly, and they love getting to know these youth too and enjoy having the activity and happy voices outside their windows. One of our homeowners brought out watermelon and ice cream for all to enjoy! It's important to us to build relationships while we work and often that takes precedence over getting the work finished. A school teacher was overjoyed that she was getting help in her classroom, and the volunteers were thankful to see first-hand how their service was encouraging this teacher!

First Christian youth from Tennessee take a roof off like pros!
Glenkirk Church youth from  Floyd house
Glenkirk youth from California!

Glenkirk enjoying watermelon from our sweet homeowner

Riverchase UMC youth can even make mopping fun!
Riverchase UMC youth making this classroom shine

Anyone know how to hang ceiling tiles? No? No problem.
Volunteers from Riverchase UMC step up to make it happen.

Racial Reconciliation at the Southern Baptist Convention

Roundtable participants discuss the importance of racial reconciliation
This June the Southern Baptist Convention was held in Birmingham, AL and CSM was chosen to be the recipient of the Pastor's Conference offering during their three-day meeting. The SBC pastors raised $9,219, which was split between two summer camps hosted by partner churches who are significantly impacting youth in the city of Birmingham. We are so thankful for this partnership and the impact this offering will have on these great camps!

The theme of the pastors' conference was Kingdom Character centering around the Sermon on the Mount. We are incredibly grateful that Executive Director, Tracy Hipps, was asked to be a part of a roundtable discussing racial reconciliation.

You can listen to the panel and all of the speakers from the Pastors' Conference at here.

Leaning Into The Uncomfortable

Tracy and Willie walk through the Memorial
We walk daily into the deep with people and sit in the uncomfortable tension of cross-cultural work. Mixing denominations, socioeconomic complexities, faith backgrounds, political ideas, "feel-goodism," cultural divides, physical divides, and any other kind of separation that we've been taught for so long not to talk about, and it can be uncomfortable. Our staff at CSM is committed to continually learn and stand in the tension, challenging our preconceived ideas and beliefs so that we can walk closer to Jesus and meet people wherever they are in their walk.

When the EJI Museum and Memorial opened, we knew it would be an incredible experience, and we finally took the opportunity to close operations for a day so we could experience this together. It was a powerful day.

We encourage you to take the opportunity to lean into what is uncomfortable, feel challenged by what you have never heard before, and then make space to reflect with the Lord, asking Him what He would have you to do next.

Markers representing counties and names of those killed
CSM staff member, Willie,  at the Museum
The Memorial
The marker for Jefferson County, Alabama

Kids Across America Kamp

CSM bus #1 rolls into camp as counselors rush the bus creating a huge welcome party for each camper!

Kids Across America Kamp's mission is "to build Christian leaders by encouraging, equipping, and empowering urban youth and their mentors through camping and education" and their vision is to "transform urban youth to impact their communities for Christ." This camp is specifically designed for urban youth and how best to minister to them! For 28 years, Executive Director, Tracy Hipps, has sponsored buses and students to be able to attend this camp and this year 131 campers and their leaders had an incredible time.

This was the first year for KAA Español which specifically targeted urban Latino youth and it was a great success! We were able to take ten students and two leaders from Christ For The Nations Church in Centerpoint, AL. The campers had the best time and said that "from the beginning, they knew it was going to be so fun!"

CSM provides the buses, registration help, and some funding allowing smaller churches and groups to participate. Most would not be able to go to a week-long camp in Missouri without this logistical and financial help, and we are honored to be able to do this for youth in Birmingham.
2019 camp theme, Abide. John 15:4

Campers from Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church

Campers having fun.
KAA Español!

Group leaders have their own unique camp allowing them to recharge for the rest of the year!

Campers come back happy and tired from the week.

Summer Interns Bring The Fun

David Etienne, Taharia Morgan, Abigail Brock, and Zac Parker
Each summer we have volunteer groups who come from all over the country (hello Glendora, CA!) to spend a week working with us on housing projects and church projects and interns play a significant role in making the summer run smoothly. Thankfully these college kids have a lot of energy and dedication to keep the teams moving forward when it is 95 degrees outside and are willing to make countless trips to the warehouse to get more tools, water, or resources for projects. This summer, we have four outstanding interns working with our volunteer groups.

David Etienne is a senior majoring in Criminal Justice at Miles College. He is from Haines City, Florida where he played "just a little bit of football" for powerhouse Auburndale HS. He currently plays for Miles College, so he works out early every morning with the team and then joins us to lead groups and projects! David has an immense amount of joy and is eager to help out wherever he is needed. David has spent the month of June working at Urban Hope camp in Fairfield, and they couldn't be more impressed with him. Everyplace we put him, they call and ask if he can come back because he is such a blessing to be around and is so good with the kids!
Taharia Morgan is a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has lived all over the world but calls Chicago and Montgomery home. She is majoring in Public Health with a minor in Business Management. Taharia never stops smiling and is quick to try new things. She recently learned how to use the sawzall while conquering a small fear of heights, and laughed the entire time! Taharia is a hard worker, dedicated to finishing the job, excellent with the youth, and makes each project fun.
Abigail Brock is a senior at Samford University. She is majoring in Accounting and is from LaGrange, Georgia. Abigail has an excellent spirit and handles anything we throw her way. She is very detailed, which we love, but she also has a way of making the volunteers feel special and noticed. Abigail decided she wanted to do an internship outside of her normal accounting world and she has taken group management on factastically. She is lots of fun, and we even caught her racing our construction truck through the parking lot to see how fast she could run before a recent volunteer project!

Zac Parker is a senior at Samford University majoring in Business Administration, Management. He is from Dothan, AL, and is exploring all the aspects of working in ministry. Last summer Zac interned at a local church and then spent an hour a week with our spring interns and Tracy Hipps learning about community development and how a non-profit, like CSM, can support the vision of the local church. Zac is a great listener and genuinely wants to know all sides of the story and not just the narrative that makes him most comfortable. We love Zac's inquisitiveness and his desire to learn and are excited we are getting to know him more this summer.