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News from the Regional Synod of Mid-America
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This year, as you may know, the RCA General Synod will be held in Chicagoland, as it returns to Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights.  In order for Synod to happen well, your help is needed, and there are several ways to be involved.

Rev. Christopher Poest is one of the point-persons for our region in coordinating volunteers and you can contact him either to volunteer or to get more information: poestopher@gmail.com

Transportation:
Drivers, and church buses/vans, are needed Wednesday, June 10 & Thursday, June 11 to to shuttle people from O'Hare to Trinity. If you have a church bus or van, and willing driver/s, please let me know. Shuttles will be needed all day Wednesday (8 am - 10 pm), and from 8 am - 2 pm on Thursday, but you will not be expected to be available for that entire time. If we have enough shuttle options, we'll create a schedule. If you have someone with good administrative gifts willing to work with RCA staff on coordinating the shuttle schedule, please let me know that as well.

Golf Cart Drivers:
This is often one of the most enjoyable ways to volunteer at Synod. Throughout the week, there will be golf carts to help transport people across Trinity's campus, but the carts need drivers. This is a fun way to interact with delegates from throughout the RCA. What we need now is someone with good administrative gifts who is willing to recruit, coordinate, and schedule volunteers from a number of different churches to drive golf carts throughout Synod (google docs can work well for this). 

Host Churches (Sunday, June 14):
Synod delegates will worship at area churches the Sunday of Synod. If you are willing to host delegates, and provide transportation for them to/from church and Trinity, please let me know. Delegates will sign up for church during the registration process, so you'll have an idea of numbers in advance...and there's usually a last-minute change on Saturday afternoon! 

Shopping at IKEA:
Yes, you read that right! Women's Transformation & Leadership staff are hoping to create a living-room type hospitality area in the vendor display space. We're looking for a couple of people who can purchase the furniture (you'll be fully reimbursed), assemble it, and get it to Trinity. Probably a couple of comfy chairs, a coffee table, and the like.  

General Synod will be back again next year at the same location, so if you cannot help now, keep this in mind. 


 

News from Camp Manitoqua
Come play a full day of paintball on Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center’s wooded course on Saturday, March 28, 2015 from 10am – 4pm. Space is limited; 7th & 8th graders must have a participating parent or guarding with them..  Cost is $36 (includes gun and mask rental, 1000 paintballs, and a box lunch). Register online at Manitoqua.org.  Please call the office for more information, (815) 469-2319.

Partner with other volunteers for Manitoqua Ministries 12th Annual Camp Work Day.  Camp Manitoqua and King’s Camp work day is scheduled for Saturday, April 18, 2015   Lunch is provided. More information can be found on our web page, www.manitoqua.org.  Please RSVP by April 5 for Camp Manitoqua to 815.469.2319 or for King’s Camp to 815.645.8277

Summer Staff: Have you considered spending a summer in ministry?  Applications for 2015 summer staff at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center are available online at www.manitoqua.org/resources.

*This newsletter's story of celebration comes from Rev. Stephanie Doeschot and The Bridge.

The Bridge in St. Charles, Missouri is a ministry of Christ’s Church in partnership with area churches.  It began with prayer, discernment and “ministry by walking around” in the new urbanism community to which the group felt called. We spent significant time dwelling in Luke 10, where Jesus sends out disciples to stay and serve where there is openness to their message and to move on when that is not so. The work of missiologists in the Gospel and Our Culture network (www.gocn.org), and others who urge the church in our culture to go to where people naturally hang out, has deeply influenced our joint ministry. Dwelling in God’s Word within community, jointly discerning where the Holy Spirit is leading, and setting up ministry where people live have been guiding principles we have followed.

Since we determined an openness to our ministry ideas in New Town, this partnership rented a small space in the town “marketplace” where fair trade merchandise could be sold, stimulating conversations about our purpose and inviting others to join us. We clearly posted our mission statement of “doing justice….loving kindness….walking humbly with God” (Micah 6:8).  One evening one of the early customers spent over an hour talking with Pastor Phil expressing his curiosity about what our group was up to and the reason behind it.  When Dave shared his own interest in assisting people to provide for themselves and then said “I didn’t think Christians were interested in doing this kind of thing,” we knew we were correctly positioned at the crossroads of church and culture. Exactly where we wanted to be.

That led to more adventurous experimentation, such as expanding to a space where we could offer an espresso bar, with tables and chairs to encourage conversations, along with displaying our fair trade merchandise. Currently, we are in yet another version of our coffee house, a 2.0 Coffee House if you will, which is twice the size of the first one.  Now we are able to have a dedicated room for meetings as well as comfortable coffee house furnishings. Additionally, we have rented a location in a prime retail and dining area on historic Main Street in St. Charles where the exposure to our mission and the ensuing conversations are greatly enhanced. 

So how does The Bridge embody the church’s public witness to the culture? Perhaps these glimpses of what happened in 2014 will serve to testify to God’s work among us:
  • Each week an average of 700 people engaged in activities or simply stopped in to buy a cup of coffee or a gift at one of our locations and had the opportunity to see the church in action, as well as engage in conversation, discussions and worship as desired;
  • Patrons were able to contribute tips to our baristas as well as to a posted mission of the month, yielding $927.28 for three RCA missions (Peace Project, Hunger Relief, and World Hunger) as well as over $3100 for nine other missional projects throughout the year;
  • Regular small groups met weekly, including a women’s book study and discussion of faith matters (Life, Love and Lattes) and people dropped in every Friday night to enjoy live music with their friends, or to share their music on an occasional Open Mic night;
  • Two worship and fellowship gatherings occurred each week: The Table on Thursday nights includes a simple meal, Dwelling in the Word, music, Word and Sacrament and prayers, and Sunday morning Coffee House Worship includes music, Word and Sacrament and prayers (averaging 30-40 people between the two gatherings);
  • On the second Sunday night of each month, youth from partner churches and the local community around The Bridge Coffee House gather for friendship, frappes, lattes, sacred conversations and occasional local mission projects;
  • Volunteers and staff were trained to serve more than coffee drinks and smoothies, or to process a sales transaction. Underneath the skill sets required to serve the needs of operating The Bridge Coffee House or Fair Trade Market, beat the hearts of people who sense God’s call to serve each person who comes to us holistically. And to learn from them. There is a “third-place” mentality we cultivate because that is how Jesus operated. Think about the Samaritan woman at the well, dinner with Zacchaeus, and so many others with whom he took time to converse and care. Sometimes these conversations lead to opportunities to pray with and for others. We approach them all with a long-term view of developing relationships that the Holy Spirit can use, even as we pray to be God’s instruments in that process.
  • Throughout the year, special events like Prayer Vigils for people with serious health issues or for peace and reconciliation in Ferguson were held with wide community participation.  Ashes To Go were offered with brief liturgy, CROSS-walk meditations took place all around town, along with a Seder meal, Easter Sunrise Service, Walk to Emmaus, Manger Walk, Christmas Eve Candlelighting Service, Pet Blessing……you get the idea. Our goal is to incarnate the gospel in our daily life with the people we have come to know and love.
  • In the first full year of operation in 2014, the volunteers and small paid staff of The Bridge Fair Trade Market sold $119,000 worth of fair trade merchandise to benefit artisans and farmers and their communities around the world. This is in response to God’s clear desire for people who claim to love God to be engaged in promoting economic justice for the poor. Stories regularly return to us of the effects fair wages for labor are yielding: food, clothing, clean water, medical care and educational opportunities are transforming lives and communities in impoverished areas. Such feedback stimulates us and our growing volunteer base to continue to do this as though we are serving Jesus himself (because we are, according to Matthew 25).
    
What’s next? By God’s grace, we hope to deepen and widen the impact of the existing structures set up for worship, discipleship and mission. We hope to leverage our locations and the mind-set we have developed among our participants who eagerly serve at the intersection of church and culture for God’s kingdom purposes.    

Rev. Stephanie Doeschot
The Bridge Fair Trade Manager and Mission Developer
fairtrade.thebridge@gmail.com, www.thebridge-online.org



*we share stories of celebration to give glory to God for the work he is doing in and through us.  If you have a story for a future newsletter, please contact chad@rsmam.org
Our 15-year vision is moving forward with good momentum, but many churches still aren't sure where they fit in to Transformed and Transforming.  What is it?  How might we get involved?  Is there anything useful for our church?  Check out a new section of our website to explore more and see how your church might benefit from the initiatives being formed.  http://www.rsmam.org/transformed-and-transforming/
March Schedule:
16:  Travel Day from Florida Meetings
17:  Illinois Classis Meeting/Second Reformed Church/Pekin, IL
17-18:  Congregations and Ministers in Transition Meeting/Chicago, IL
19:  Illiana-Florida Classis Meeting/Faith Church, Dyer, IN
20:  Office
21:  Off
22:  Sunday Worship
23:  Travel to Tempe for GSC Meetings
24-26 GSC Meeting/Tempe, AZ
25:  Illiana-Florida CMT Management Team Conference Call
27:  Travel Day
28:  Off
29:  Sunday Worship


Wayne's contact information:
10088 Prairie Knoll Ct.
St. John, IN 46373
Mobile: (941) 302-1281
Email:  wregen@rsmam.org
The following are some links you may find helpful...

5 Habits to Kill Apathy in Your Ministry - Leaders, artists, and writers thrive when they adapt healthy rhythms and habits.  Apathy sets in when we don't do these types of things and apathy can lead to lack of inspiration and leadership.

The Key to Office Productivity - Forbes.com found that the key to being more productive in the office was actually getting out of the office.  But for those who cannot work remotely on occasion, these tips can help increase productivity in the office.  

ONE Reason Missional Will or Won't Work for You - Hugh Halter writes that when it comes to embracing and living out the missional life in your congregation, it really doesn’t matter which group you chose to train you, who you read, what organization or resources you take your cues from. What really matters is that you don’t just ‘try it’ for a year and move on. What matters is that you commit to it, live it, do it, and keep doing it!

10 Foolproof Ways to Alienate Visitors to Your Church - This tongue-in-cheek look at church practices helps us see things that may be standing in the way of visitors feeling welcome at our churches.



March Schedule:
16: Office
17: Congregations and Ministers in Transition Meeting/Chicago, IL
18: Congregations and Ministers in Transition Meeting/Chicago, IL
19: Coaching; Accountant Meeting/Crown Point, IN; Illiana-Florida Classis Meeting/Faith Church, Dyer, IN
20: Office
23: Office
24: Coaching; Meeting w/Al Vander Meer/Merrillville, IN; Local Missional Engagement Team Conference Call
25: Coaching; Office
26: Coaching; Office
27: Vacation Day


Chad's Contact Information:
2104 Campbell Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Office: (815) 464-9181
Mobile: (765) 237-7678
Email: chad@rsmam.org
Ben Ingebretson has been facilitating the church planting movement since 2013.

Ben's Contact Information:
765 Eastridge Dr. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Mobile: (616) 481-7566
Email: beningebretson@gmail.com
Copyright © 2015 Regional Synod of Mid-America, RCA, All rights reserved.


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