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    Wednesday
    Sep172014

    Urban Ministry Spotlight: Staging A Miracle

    posted September, 2014

    One of our CFUM, Inc. legacy bearers is a remarkable arts ministry called STAGING A MIRACLE. “SAM" is the soul justice and social justice ministry conceived and offered byFirst United Methodist Church, Sacramento, CA (FUMC). 

    In June 2007, the Senior Minister and the new Director of Children's Ministry of FUMC were keen participants in our “City of God" conference. They were inspired by a pilgrimage to the stunning Sitar Center, an innovative children's center for the arts in the under-served Adams-Morgan neighborhood of D.C. Their creative juices and hearts were “strangely warmed". A brilliant dream was born for Staging a Miracle!

    SAM targets low income children in the midtown and beyond of Sacramento. Initially, it provided a unique five-week summer theater program for children, culminating in free city-wide, packed out performances on an elevated stage built in the church courtyard. They also hosted an encore performance after worship services on the last Sunday of SAM. 

    SAM has now grown into a fabulous year-round program with leadership and coaching by respected artists from the Sacramento fine-arts community. Hundreds of Sacramento families have been transformed. CFUM, Inc. is inspired to be “partners" with SAM in Sacramento. It is mutual inspiration. Readers, visit their website for your inspiration!

    Wednesday
    Sep172014

    True North on the Christian Compass

    posted September 2014

    The radical Jesus of the Gospels offers a terrifying and timeless invitation: “Come, bring your cross (a metaphor for your death) and follow me. If you want to find your life, you must first lose it. In losing your life for my sake, you will find authentic life."

    Prophet, theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writes that Jesus’ consistent admonition is: “Come, follow Jesus; it will require the death of you."  Good News?? NO, says church-ianity. YES, declares Christ-ianity.

    Dying to self is True North on the follower’s compass. It makes us cringe. It is the most difficult centerpiece for the Christian journey. Yet, it is the singular promise for NEW life.
     
    CFUM, Inc. is not fraudulently claiming martyrdom. Yet we are dying by bringing closure to our ministry. Hopefully by now you are aware that, in our closure, the Board of CFUM, Inc. has made the courageous decision to make seed grants available to you. Information andgrant application forms are available on our website. Effective September 15th, grant applications will be received. Closure for grant applications is October 24, 2014. Our Board members will be the readers and decision-makers regarding grant recipients.

    We hope to be challenged by the receipt of quality grant applications for urban/social justice ministry in the cities of America. Have you submitted your grant proposal? We intend to live our new life through you!

    Wednesday
    Jul162014

    CFUM Grant Program

    posted July 2014

    You will recall that our CFUM, Inc. closure process includes a Grants Program.  

    Grant Guidelines for applications will be posted on our website on August 112014.  

    CFUM, Inc. is entrusting our legacy to you through our grants to your urban ministries.We look forward to reading your applications. Final Grant decisions will be made by our entire Board.


    Wednesday
    Jul162014

    CFUM's Legacy

    posted July 2014

    SIERRA Magazine headlined a May/June 2014 editorial with: “What Sort of Person Reads SIERRA"? The writer stated that they remember only one other magazine asking that question: “What Sort of Person Reads Playboy?" The writer conveyed that Playboy’s answer was revealed in a series of full-page, photo-heavy ads revealing that a Playboy reader is a “manly man who attracts the attention of beautiful women because of his taste for silk robes, expensive booze and strong cologne.” Products that advertisers should choose to market in Playboy, of course. SIERRA’S answers were good. Playboy’s answers were memorable. But, their question struck a chord in me.

    So, what sort of person reads our CFUM E-newsletter??

    My answer (lacking full-page, photo-heavy ads) comes from listening attentively to many “City of God" participants, learning about some of your urban ministry programs, and dialoguing with you through e-mails.

    I’ve concluded that you read CFUM E-newsletters out of rigorous pursuit for authentic ministry in the citya passion for God's justice for the common good, and, the relentless probing for “best practice" resources for urban ministry. Have I described you?

    As CFUM shifts our focus to closing well, I have reflected often about the impact of our national ministry. While this decision to close our nonprofit ministry has brought some sadness for many of us, CFUM has much to be thankful for as we consider what God has done through us.

    The impact of CFUM will not end with the closure of the formal organization. Our legacy is YOU, our faithful urban ministry practitioners! And what an inspiring one it is! We are so grateful for the recent outpouring of support, well wishes, and messages of encouragement. Thank you!

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    Tuesday
    Jun102014

    New Seeds, New Growth

    posted June 2014

    Drawing upon the timeless, rhythmical and biblical images of seeds and growth, the President and the Chair of the Board of Directors announce the closure of Center for Urban Ministry, Inc., effective December 31, 2014.

    A Fertile History

     

    The images of seeds and growth are significant for us in this announcement. Fifteen years ago, the Rev. Dr. Doug Bailey, then Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in the downtown City of Memphis, envisioned and collaboratively formed this national urban ministry. This vision would bring together many ecumenical clergy and lay leaders in urban churches across our nation, providing “learning laboratory" growth through practical resources for urban congregations.

    Two years later Doug became a faculty member at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, developing and teaching urban/social justice ministry. CFUM, Inc. moved  to Winston-Salem, NC and affiliated with the Divinity School. Since Doug's retirement from the Divinity School, CFUM, Inc. has remained independent.

    The essence of CFUM, Inc. is to “inspire, challenge, assist and resource urban churches in their own transformation for the transformation of their cities.” 

    Throughout the 15 years, the flagship ministry of CFUM, Inc. has been the production of a national annual conference titled, The City of God for American Cities: Reinventing the Urban Church."   Hundreds of clergy and lay leaders have been engaged in these conferences, first in Memphis, and in our nation's capital for the past 13 years. Growing out of “City of God” conferences has been the opportunity for CFUM, Inc. to provide urban church consultations, weekend workshops and regional conferences across the country. Countless clergy and lay leaders bear testimony as to CFUM, Inc.’s unique niche for impacting the ministry within and through their city congregations.

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    Monday
    May122014

    The Singing of the Imbongis

    posted May 2014

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
    Our deepest fear is that we are adequate and powerful beyond measure.
    It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves,
    Who am I to be so brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
    Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

    These are the brilliant and oft-quoted words from the 1994 Inaugural Address by South Africa's first democratically elected president, the late Nelson  Mandela.
     
    The Rev. Dr. Peter Storey, South African- raised and a transformational voice, adds a fascinating slant to that memorable oath-taking day. Storey, retired President of the Methodist Church of South Africa and renowned former Bishop of Johannesburg, grew up under the malignancy of apartheid. Later he became one of the most courageous and liberating voices against apartheid while serving as President of the South African Council of Churches. He also served as one of the Robben Island prison Chaplains for the 27 year jailed and future president.
     
    One of Storey’s anecdotes about that 1994 Inaugural Day tells of the moments when a dignified Nelson Mandela addressed the gathered heads of state from across the world, the people of his nation, and a global TV audience.

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    Tuesday
    Apr152014

    "Plus Ultra"

    Posted April 2014

    Prior to Christopher Columbus setting sail across the Atlantic in the late 15th century, it was believed that the world ended out there somewhere beyond the Straits of Gibraltar. One of Spain's great “claims to fame" was that their nation was the last outpost of the known world. They were positioned, so they thought, at the edge of the great beyond.
     
    Illustrating this belief, the Spanish Royal Coat of Arms portrayed an image of the Pillars of Hercules, the ancient name for those mammoth stone monoliths on either side of the Straits of Gibraltar. Printed on the Pillars image was the Royal motto, with no modest pride: NE PLUS ULTRA, “No More Beyond."
     
    However, Columbus and his crew returned with remarkable “crack in the universe” information. They encountered, beyond the wildest of comprehension, a whole new world.
     
    In reality, they experienced something much "more beyond." The Royal Coat of Arms had egg all over its face. Then someone (I think it must have been an early advertising genius with a quick eye and daring spirit) made a noble and thrifty suggestion which was immediately accepted by the King of Spain: simply that they strike the first word, NE, from the motto. And so, the coat of arms would read, and has read ever since:  PLUS ULTRA. “More Beyond!"
     
    This historical anecdote is a good parable for Good Friday and Easter. Good Friday declares that Jesus is brutally executed. Killed for the cause of God's countercultural movement: The Kingdom of God! But his dead body is placed in a deathless grave. For, on that morning after Shabbat, there is that astounding announcement from the graveyard. As James Weldon Johnson proclaims: “Then comes that great ‘gettin up’ morning." Jesus is alive!  

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