Community Partner Spotlight: Fairmount Pines

In last month’s newsletter, you had the opportunity to read about the Valentine’s Day Party we hosted at Fairmount Pines. This event was just one in a string of events we’ve been privileged to host at the apartment complex’s community center. This ongoing relationship is a great one, and one that I certainly hope we can continue to strengthen as time goes on. As you all know, a partnership takes the work of two entities. While we’ve been blessed with many volunteers and resources on our end to help make these events happen, it has also taken the work and commitment of the Fairmount staff, mainly Randy Coleman. Randy has been a great community partner, and for this reason I wanted to give him a chance to introduce himself a little further, and for you all to get to know him better. Check out his letter to Christ Church!

**Hi, I’m Randy Coleman, the Service Coordinator at Fairmount Pines. I assist the families in becoming more independent and less dependent. I aid the families with community resources, volunteer opportunities, mentoring the youth, job searches, and after school activities—just to name a few. The passion that I have comes from what I believe is my purpose work. Not only did I come from the same economical background, I also have a strong emotional tie with youth and families that live in certain conditions. Understanding that setbacks sometimes weigh us down, I feel that I am able to serve as a beacon of light to the families here. The laughing, smiling and excitement of the children is what amazes me. When they are playing the games, doing activities, indulging in the snacks and food, it’s a great sight to see them so engaged and happy. It’s also pretty cool to have so many volunteers that are willing and ready to engage with our community and kiddos. This is a community that is often shunned and stereo-typed. Its nice to see the volunteers from your church show no concern of that. I continue to hope that we can build on this healthy, strong relationship. We would love to be able to see Christ Church provide activities at Fairmount Pines for youth and families and to host us at your facilities as well. I do want to say that we are grateful for Pastor Mike Janes, Annie, and the Christ Church body.

**Randy

Editors Note:

** Fairmount Pines is part of the Davenport-based Ecumenical Housing Development Group. The complex has over 115 units and is a Section 8 complex, meaning that it is for low-income families. Over 90% of the tenants are single-parent, low-income families with kids. Most of the moms work one or more jobs. Our partnership with Fairmount Pines is helping provide programming for those children and families to help keep them out of trouble, establish community and give them a successful future.

Growing Together: The Confirmation Journey

This year our congregation has been blessed with another group of dedicated students who have been working through the 8-week confirmation course. These students include Kayla Cornett, Azyre Donahue, Claire Hovey, Alec Seifert, Noah Tompkins, Melissa Wallace, and Erik Winter. As our class is preparing to wrap up, I wanted to share a little bit about what they’ve been learning and doing as a part of the course. On the wall in Fellowship Hall you may have already noticed an unusual tree that has been sprouting up week by week. This tree, (left), has been a project the youth have been adding to little by little. One of the first activities the youth engage in as we begin our classes each week is to reflect upon what they learned or experienced during the previous class. Jesus’ words in John 15:5 ("I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”) have been a continual theme of the class, and students are reminded often of how Christ is the vine or trunk, and together we are growing through Him.

At the beginning of the 8-week course we had nothing but a bare trunk in the center of our paper. Each week we have slowly added branches, then leaves, and now our fruit, which will bring the tree to completion. On each added item you can see where the youth have written things that have stood out to them from previous classes-- showing, yes, they are indeed learning something! While a tree or a vine can be symbolic in many ways, I think it is a great visual representation of how these six students have continually grown together.

Throughout the eight weeks we covered many topics that help to ground our students with a knowledge of both the Bible and the United Methodist Church. We’ve covered the three persons of the Trinity, the creation story, sin and our need for redemption, the three types of grace given to us, the seasons of the church calendar, and much, much more. In all honesty, I find myself learning and growing right along with the students as together we are digging deeper into both the Bible and our United Methodist Church history. Although classes will wrapping up around Easter, these students are not quite yet finished. They will be attending Summer Games University in July to further grow and sustain their faith. It will then be our pleasure to present to you our confirmands on Confirmation Sunday this coming August (August 23)!

Progress

Christ Church has been involved in Haiti for almost 5 years, pursing a vision to educate orphans in hopes of creating leaders who can transform Haiti. On this spring’s mission trip, our team drove past a church school that Christ Church built in 2013. At that time, 40-50 students were enrolled in the school at the church. Now, over 200 students are enrolled and two more classrooms have been added. On that same trip in 2013, I preached in a church with tarp walls (pictured below). This year, Pastor Mike Morgan from Marion preached to the same congregation. As you can see (pictured below), their facility has improved! We even built a building next door to accommodate the ever-growing number of children in the congregation.

When the team returned, Ryan preached a sermon in which he challenged us to focus on lives on the process more than the outcome. God’s timing hasn’t been what I expected. The outcomes of our involvement in Haiti are not what I expected. They’re better. More kids are hearing about Christ and receiving an education than I ever imagined. The process is taking us where we need to go and, once I let my timeline die, God could raise up HIS better outcomes. This kind of death and resurrection shows me what Easter is all about. Thank you for your faithfulness. Pastor Mike

Getting Ready

Soon, I will begin a 12-week renewal leave; I will be gone from May 17 until August 10. I am grateful to you for giving the time off and grateful to the Lilly Endowment for Clergy Renewal that is funding my travels. Most of the preparation is already complete.

The preaching over those 12 weeks will be covered by staff members of Christ Church, long-time members of Christ Church, people Christ Church has sent into full-time ministry, and the four surviving former pastors. When each former pastor preaches, we will have a social gathering like we did when each was pastor, and we will converse about what was strong in Christ Church during each pastor’s tenure, where we still see the strength and what opportunities we have to reclaim the strength.

Pastoral care, such as visitation for the very sick and any funerals, will be handled by Rev. Ron Carlson from Eldridge United Methodist Church. Please call the church office for instructions on reaching him. Kerri Tompkins, our Business Administrator, will handle policies, staff time-off, and so on. April Buske, our Director of Discipleship, will oversee the program of the church through the summer.

As you explore and celebrate Christ Church’s history, I will be studying my family’s long Methodist heritage, the highlight of which will be six weeks with my wife and kids in Europe, seeing where my ancestors lived and worked. I am so grateful for this opportunity and so excited to see you again in August!

*Pastor Mike

The Quick Fix

During Lent this year, we will study the first half of 1 Samuel. The nation of Israel had said that God was their King, but throughout the book of Judges, they did whatever they wanted as if they had no king. When neighboring armies crushed them, they would cry for help and God would send them a judge to deliver them. All was well until the judge died, then they would fall apart again. In 1 Samuel, Israel demanded a king, “like all the other nations have.” They sought security someplace other than God and they acted like it was God’s fault that they disobeyed, as if their problems would vanish if God did what God should do.

I think the connection to our time is obvious. All around, people search for a quick fix to their problems. People seek security apart from God and, in their search for security, usually believe their problems are caused by other people. Lent is a season of repentance, of taking responsibility for what we have done and going the right way. For those who give things up during Lent, you’ll quickly see where you have sought security other than God. You’ll start to see where you have blamed your problems on others. While it isn’t easy work, it bears fruit in being better connected to God, more at peace with your surroundings, and better able to make sound choices. The Lenten journey begins at the Ash Wednesday service on February 18 at 6:30; I hope to see you there!

Pastor Mike!