Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What's Happening in 2016?

Camp Outreach


It has been a busy year for Common Ground. In June we hosted another Camp Outreach that serves an inner city neighborhood in Indianapolis. This year we had more than 100 volunteers - our largest group of volunteers ever.

Volunteers participated in rehabbing and repairing houses for the elderly, single parents and the poor. We painted a house and garage, did two house siding projects, repaired a ceiling where the plaster had fallen, helped with sheet rock mudding/taping and donated a Corian countertop and double sinks and two refrigerators, repaired several leaking toilets, fixed holes in kitchen floors, repaired electrical circuits, fixed many plumbing problems, rebuilt a bathroom floor and reset the tub, did roof repairs and repaired a bathroom ceiling damaged by water leaks, repaired or replaced a number of gutters, mowed acres of grass for the Lords Pantry and more. 

We also conducted a Vacation Bible School for neighborhood kids and younger children of our volunteers. I think the peak attendance was 43. We used Group Publishing's "Hometown Nazareth" as the format for our VBS program. This includes songs, story telling, games and crafts. We fed breakfast to the children and anyone from the neighborhood who wanted it and lunch to the children in the VBS program. Our breakfast, lunch and dinner crews made every meal - and boy was the food plentiful and tasty!
This year we introduced a new ministry - "Food for Families." Our friend, Julie Molloy from the Lords Pantry selected five families (all with many children) who could really use help. Our young people went shopping and purchased food and delivered it to the families. It was touching to do such a personal, face-to-face ministry. I think we are going to continue this throughout the year.
Parents, grand parents and even great-grand parents provided leadership, food preparation and nightly talks. Some of the project crews and VBS tribe leaders were headed by young people who have been coming to Camp Outreach for years and have developed project and leadership skills.
We had volunteers from 12 states and 3 countries - with families traveling long distances from Colorado, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Canada and the Philippines.
Thought I'd share what 100+ wonderful friends spent a week doing. I have a lot of respect for every one of them and what they invested in time and treasure doing for others.

All the best,

Guy Swenson
gswenson@7words.com
317-707-5003

Monday, October 12, 2015

What is new in 2015?

The Common Faith Network Feast of Tabernacles 2015 in Ft. Walton Beach, FL. 

What a great Feast and a great group of brethren! We try to have a very "family friendly" feast site with special activities focused on connecting young people with Jesus, God our Father and each other. For the statistically minded: we had 983 registered and the Sabbaths had 768, 759 and 717 in attendance. 72 in the children's Hometown Nazareth program, 34 in the 10-13 ages and about 30 in the 14-17 teen program.

The CFN Feast of Tabernacles will be returning again to the Emerald Coast Conference Center in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida in 2016.

For more information, go to www.CommonFaithNetwork.com or https://www.facebook.com/groups/152762744780655/


For those wanting a copy of my seminar presentation on the holy day calendar, email me at gswenson@7words.com

Camp Outreach:

Our Camp Outreach this summer was a remarkable success. Almost 100 volunteers spent a week serving the "Stringtown" neighborhood of Indianapolis. We completed 25 house rehabilitation projects, fed children and residents a daily breakfast and conducted a Vacation Bible School for about 35 neighborhood children.

Each evening the volunteers got together for a "debrief" and shared experiences. Austin Kincade led a group discussion on various aspects of how our personal "worldview."

To see photos and more information about Camp Outreach, go to https://www.facebook.com/Camp-Outreach-132758703402982/timeline/

The dates for Camp Outreach 2016 are set! June 19-25, 2016

All the best,

Guy Swenson

Monday, December 22, 2014

2014 In Review

This past year was filled with changes and some wonderful events that have created new opportunities for Common Ground Christian Ministries and others.

The 2014 Common Faith Network Feast of Tabernacles

For the past several years, Common Ground has partnered with several other churches and ministries to host a Feast of Tabernacles in Florida. The Feast of Tabernacles and the 8th Day celebrations are rich in symbolism and point to the redemptive work of Jesus and the history of God's working with Israel and the Christian community of believers. Our peak attendance was 585 - a good sized group!

What struck me most about this year's feast was the quality of the music and the children's programs. While I think we have one of the better groups of gifted speakers, the music this year was the best I have ever heard. We ask the worship leaders to include in each service a variety of traditional and contemporary songs so everybody can enjoy singing. The musicians and singers were just excellent. On one of the days I was standing in the back of the auditorium and the congregational singing sounded more like a concert than just typical singing. It was that good.

The program for the youngest children was based on Moses and Israel in the Wilderness. Mark Gentry was Moses and Kate Ambrose led the singing. Jennifer Swenson and Carrie Gentry organized everything and a host of volunteers were tribe leaders and shop keepers. Along with the children's programs we had programs for tweens, teens and young adults. I think some families find the emphasis on youth at CFN helps their children become better connected with their faith, Jesus, God our Father and new friends.

Camp Outreach 2014

Jennifer's mother, Sarah Osborn, died in May, after an extended period of illness. The loss of her mom kind of knocked the stuffings out of our family. Coming right at the critical time for planning Camp Outreach, we made the hard decision to cancel it for 2014. The neighborhood missed the wonderful influence and works of service from our church families who volunteer.

The good news is Camp Outreach 2015 is set! It took a while to negotiate a workable agreement with the camp where we stay, but we finally got it done. Put June 21-27, 2015 on your calendar for Camp Outreach 2015! 

Kardias Ministries

For a number of years Common Ground has been host for Kardias Ministries. Kardias is headed by Brian and Stephanie Smith and most notably had supported efforts of Christians in India to care for widows and evangelize. This year the Smiths moved to California and two people have stepped up to share responsibility with the Smiths in ministry - Michael Deering with the Indian Ministry and John Wilson through Faith Fellowship to handle the finances and book keeping. We miss the Smiths and pray for their success and that of Michael and John as they assume responsibilities for these ministries.

On a personal note ...

I mentioned the loss of our beloved Sarah Osborn, but there was joy this year in welcoming three new grandchildren into our family. Norah, Ruby and Lydia have won special places in our hearts - and for those who are counting, that makes 10 grandchildren!

We were a little misty-eyed about the sale of our home of 19 years Plainfield, IN. We bought a foreclosed home that is 12 miles north in Brownsburg, IN, did renovations and now have a much larger gathering space for family and friends. (The Swenson clan alone is 20 people!)

May God our Father and Jesus our Savior bless you and your family in the coming year.

Guy Swenson
Common Ground Christian Ministries
317-839-3005
gswenson@7words.com

Monday, November 18, 2013

2013 in Review

We are drawing to a close on another eventful year. Let me share some of what Common Ground has been involved in this year:

Working with the poor - Camp Outreach and more

During the week of July 7-13 we hosted 75 volunteers from 10 states at our annual "Camp Outreach." These volunteers, along with neighbors in the inner city neighborhood called "Stringtown," rehabbed houses for the elderly, fed breakfast and lunch to the poor and conducted a Vacation Bible School for 85 children. 

In the evenings, different young adults or families conducted Bible Studies, workshops and evening devotionals. On the Sabbath, about 140 neighbors, parents and workers held a neighborhood service where the children sang the songs and recited their memorized Bible verses the learned that week for their parents. 

Neighborhood Outreach

We have continued our weekly church services in the Stringtown neighborhood. It never ceases to amaze us how the truths of God's way of life can change people. There is such a difference in the quality of life that sobriety, honesty and wiser choices makes.

Our ministry house also hosts the monthly meetings of the Stringtown Neighborhood Association. (Guy Swenson is the chair person.)  The neighborhood association has been very supportive of Camp Outreach and our efforts to help the poor.

We work closely with the Lord's Pantry at Anna's House and have been involved with the neighborhood association and the Westside Community Development Corporation (Guy is a board member) to facilitate the donation of a 2.4 acre parcel of land from the City of Indianapolis to the Lord's Pantry. This property will be used to expand the food pantry and community services that the Lord's Pantry sponsors. If it all works out, it will be a huge benefit to the neighborhood.

Supporting "Healthy Churches"

We worked with the Cincinnati Church of God and its pastor, Jim O'Brien in a healthy church seminar in Gatlinburg, TN. Church leaders from the Indiana to North Carolina to Georgia discussed how they could help congregations become more effective instruments in God's hands.

Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles

Common Ground, LifeResource Ministries and the Church of God, Cincinnati have been sponsoring Common Faith Network  as a vehicle to promote cooperation among the churches and ministries of God. At the Feast of Tabernacles in Panama City Beach, FL we had a breakthrough year when we added United Christian Ministries and the Church of God, International as co-sponsors. 

The idea of promoting a festival celebration as a "church without walls" event was extremely well received. Brethren commented on how nice it was for the needs of the brethren to be united at the annual festival celebrations was finally put ahead of organizational distinctives and differences created from divisions in the past. Other festival sites are doing the same thing and we feel it is an idea whose time has come.

Helping widows and the poor in India

Through the efforts of Brian and Stephanie Smith who lead "Kardias," a ministry of Common Ground, we are supporting the work of several Christian leaders who care for outcast widows in India. More than just financial support, the Smiths are helping lay a foundation so they can be self-supporting. They have led several mission trips to India. The culture there is so different than here in the USA and outcast widows of the untouchable class are at the very bottom of society. Sharing our Christian faith in word is a beautiful thing - helping in practical ways is a practical demonstration of the difference between Christian values and pagan values.

There has been much more - but these are some highlights of our journey this year.

Sincerely,

Guy Swenson
Pastor, Common Ground Christian Ministries
gswenson@NTEvangelism.org



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What's Been Happening?

We have a lot of catching up to do - read through some of what has been happening with Common Ground Christian Ministries! Scroll down a bit and you'll also see an announcement about our 2013 Festival plans.

All the best,

Guy Swenson


Our First Baptism!

In July we had our first baptism from our outreach ministry in an inner city neighborhood in Indianapolis. Marsha Colpitts was baptized during Camp Outreach. Marsha had been attending our neighborhood Bible studies on the Sabbath and Tuesday evenings for about a year and committed her life to Jesus Christ.

CAMP OUTREACH 2012:

We've had a busy summer. Camp Outreach 2012 was another success. 82 young adults, families and their children from 10 states converged on a near-west side Indianapolis neighborhood. For a week we rehabbed houses, cleared brush, fed the hungry, reconditioned a children's park and hosted a Vacation Bible School for the children of "Stringtown."

Every day we opened up the kitchen at The Lord's Pantry at Anna's House and fed neighborhood children, our Camp Outreach Team and quite a few neighborhood adults a nourishing breakfast. Then the Lord's Pantry and the Common Ground Ministry House became a place for children to learn see how Daniel learned to live a Godly life in an ungodly world.

Our evenings were a time of getting to know others and sharing with others some heart felt personal experiences reflecting the challenges of living a Godly life in THIS ungodly world. We've reserved July 7-13 for Camp Outreach 2013 - plan to join us for a different experience in Christian mission and ministry.

Feast of Tabernacles 2012:

What a wonderful experience we had sharing the Feast of Tabernacles with about 250 brethren in Destin, Florida. Most people don't know that in Zechariah 14 the prophet makes it clear that when Jesus returns as king, all nations will be expected to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. What a treat it is to follow in their footsteps and actually experience today the same Holy Days that Jesus, the apostles and the early Church observed.

Jennifer and I brought the set from the Daniel in Babylon Vacation Bible School and we had 42 young people participate every morning. Some children even came from other festival sites for this program. We were happy to share the experience with them.

Our young adults created a video drama (comedy?) about the feast and we played it on Sunday. It was a great creative production.

As a cosponsor of Common Faith Network (CFN), we worked with several other festival sites to do some joint activities. This was very well received by all the brethren.

Feast of Tabernacles 2013:

We have some great news about the CFN 2013 Feast of Tabernacles. We've found some others who want to further the idea of cooperating for the Feast of Tabernacles. I'll quote the announcement below:

2013 FEAST OF TABERNACLES COSPONSORING ANNOUNCEMENT

Common Faith Network (CFN) and the Church of God International (CGI) have agreed to cosponsor a Feast of Tabernacles site at the Boardwalk Beach Resort in Panama City Beach, Florida for 2013. Jim O'Brien, pastor of the Church of God, Cincinnati, one of CFN's festival cosponsors, said: "For years brethren have been asking for groups sponsoring festival sites to combine their efforts and make it possible for more brethren and their children to get together during the Feast." He continued: "Adding CGI to the other three organizations cosponsoring the CFN Florida feast site represents an effort to listen and respond to the requests from brethren to expand the opportunities for families, teens and young adults to have a safe place to worship God and fellowship across organizational boundary lines."

Charles Groce, representing CGI and a new cosponsor of the CFN Florida festival site added: "We believe CFN shares our desire to have a feast site emphasizing sound doctrine, practical Christian living principles and creating a great festival experience for families. We, along with the other organizers of CFN, want to do our part in promoting what is in the best interest of our Christian brethren, regardless of the church organization to which they belong."

Guy Swenson, with Common Ground Christian Ministries, a CFN cosponsor commented: "We feel it is important to help individual Christians and congregations to become more engaged, equipped and empowered to fulfill the mission and ministries to which Jesus Christ has called them. The Feast is an excellent opportunity for all of us to learn more about our calling and become more involved in fulfilling His purpose for us."

In 2012, CFN promoted a very successful movement to cosponsor activities with other Florida festival sites as a way of promoting fellowship among brethren. As another bridge building effort, CFN also invited Scott Ashley, an elder in the United Church of God and member of the UCG Council of Elders, to speak at the CFN festival site in Destin, FL.

Bill Jacobs, co-founder of LifeResource Ministries and CFN cosponsor noted: "The Boardwalk Beach Resort in Panama City Beach, FL has condominium and hotel rooms that are right next door to the conference center. You can literally walk to services and activities. Those who have used the Boardwalk Beach Resort condominiums will remember the benefits of having so many people staying in the same facility. Inviting people over is easy and you are always running into friends at the pool and on the beach."

As a special note, CFN is once again offering special discounts and savings at the Boardwalk Beach Resort and several other condominium properties for those who make their reservations through CFN.

For more information or if you would like to help, you can reach CFN at www.commonfaithnetwork.com.

Common Faith Network represents a collaborative effort between churches, congregations and ministries to engage, equip and empower Christians and congregations to fulfill the purposes for which God our Father and Jesus Christ, His Son, have called them. CFN is not an incorporated organization but rather reflects working relationships between Christians accomplishing things together for the good of others.

Cosponsors of the 2013 CFN Florida Feast site include:
  • The Church of God, Cincinnati http://www.cogcincinnati.org/
  • The Church of God International http://www.cgi.org/
  • Common Ground Christian Ministries www.NTEvangelism.org
  • LifeResource Ministries http://www.liferesource.org/
 We are on Facebook at:

Common Faith Network Feast of Tabernacles http://www.facebook.com/groups/152762744780655/?fref=ts



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Announcing Camp Outreach 2012!


Reserve July 8 through 14 for Camp Outreach 2012! Last year was such a success in the Indianapolis inner city neighborhood ministry sponsored by Common Ground Christian Ministries. This year we are building on that success and expanding with some new ministry opportunities.


Camp Outreach is an opportunity to put our Christian faith into practice by the serving legitimate needs of widows, orphans, the elderly and the poor. Home repair, painting and brightening up yards with beautiful landscaping are opportunities to make connections with people who need to see the love of God in action.


Our Vacation Bible School last year with "Hometown Nazareth" was phenomenal and we touched 110 young children during the week. This year we are offering "Daniel in Babylon" where children will explore how to grow their faith in an unChristian world.


This year we are adding some training to learn some basic home repair skills and expanding our opportunities to minister to each other in the evenings.


The Camp Outreach Website will be updated in the next few weeks with application forms and other materials. The camp fee this year will be $125 per person. Obviously this doesn't cover all the food and lodging expenses - if you would like to make a donation to help defray our costs, we appreciate your support of our ministry. Donations can be sent to:

Common Ground Christian Ministries

7545 Rockville Road, Suite 200
Indianapolis, IN 46214


All the best,


Guy


Guy Swenson
Common Ground Christian Ministries
317-707-5026 Office
317-313-1544 Cell
GSwenson@NTEvangelism.org

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Camp Outreach - A Success!

We just completed our 2011 Camp Outreach Indiana. 85 volunteers from 10 states converged on Indianapolis the week of July 11-16 to put authentic Christian values into practice. Our work had three main thrusts: projects that help rehab houses where there was a legitimate need for widows, the elderly, orphans, fatherless and the poor; teach Jesus Christ to children in the neighborhood and  lives and put our Christian faith into practice.

While the numbers don't begin to tell the whole story, they do reveal a little about how hard everyone worked. In the projects side we worked on 12 properties. In one house where a widow was taking care of her widowed mother, had a child with cerebral palsy and was raising three other children we:
  • Replaced her kitchen cabinets, countertops, rewired two kitchen lights and painted;
  • Repaired her bathtub, tiled her bathroom floor, brought in a new vanity, installed a new door and casing, painted the bathroom and reset her wobbly toilet;
  • Installed four bedroom doors and two closet doors. (There were no bedroom doors before);
  • Installed wainscotting to protect the sheet rock walls from damage by the wheel chairs;
  • Repainted the entire interior of the house;
  • Replaced all the outlets and switches and repaired electrical circuits. (We found there had been a bad short in one of the outlets that coud have caused a catastrophic fire);
  • Hauled away all the debris.
There were 11 more projects sites, including repainting the interior of a woman who is raising three young boys by herself; tearing out a crumbling porch and pouring 5 yards of concrete to fix the porch, the steps and the steps to another home; repairing gutters; purchased and spread 10 tons of dirt to cover a yard where lead in the soil was causing the child to test at dangerous lead levels; helped a woman who has multiple family members living with her while they search for work to sheet rock walls plaster walls that had air blowing through them; cut down the head-high grass and weeds on an abandoned property; filled a trench that had been left in a yard; tore off and roofed part of a house where there was a severe water leak and tore out dead bushes and scraped and painted a garage for an older couple suffering from COPD.

As good as the projects were, the children's program was equally a success. We had 70-75 children each day in our vacation Bible school based on the "Hometown Nazareth" program. Last year we had 30-60 each day and the previoius year was 22-35 each day. One lady pushed a stroller and walked with her young children a mile and a half each way to make sure her kids were part of the First Outreach program.

We also fed breakfast and lunch to all the children, some of their parents and to all 85 of our workers. Bob and Brenda Howard and the kitchen crew had a busy and appreciated ministry!

The "Hometown Nazareth" program was an enormous help. The children were divided into 8 tribes - each named after one of the tribes of Israel. Stephanie Smith played the role of Mary and told a story each day about Jesus when he was a boy. The story would relate to the children and everything was Biblically sound. (Even the story of the birth of Jesus had the kings coming later - as the Bible actually teaches.) When we talked about the name of Jesus we showed the children what their names meant. That was an eye opening event for many of them. When we talked about Jesus having a home we related it to them having a home ... it was very effective.

Jeanie Hinds would lead them in singing some rousing songs. Then the "tribes" would go to the market place which was located at the Common Ground Ministry House just a block away. There some of our volunteers played the role of capenters, bread bakers, synagogue leaders, quarry men, bead makers, etc. Some were believers in Jesus, some had doubts. (Remember what was said about Jesus not performing may miracles in Nazareth because of their lack of belief? Matthew 13:57-58)

My wife, Jennifer, played "Eunice." Eunice was a busy body who didn't believe that Jesus was what Mary thought. I wasn't sure how the children would react to someone play acting that they had doubts. Jennifer must have been a good actress - one little girl came up repeatedly and tried to assure Jennifer that Jesus really was the son of God. Toward the end of the week Eunice became more convinced that Mary was right.

In the tribe "huddles" they would discuss Jesus and what some of the doubting neighbors or Nazareth shopkeepers said or those who had open minds. In defending their faith, even the younger children seemed to become more convicted of their beliefs. I am reminded of a youth congress we had years ago. I found that young perople were examining and defending their faith in school at a much earlier age than I imagined.

It was very successful. The dramatic increase in attendance attested to the popularity of the program. Of course, not every child was there every day. We are still going through our attendance lists - 120 young people were registered and we estimate that about 100 or more children attended at least one day of the vacation Bible school.

People ask, "Why do we do this?" I am sure every volunteer has their own reasons. We do it for four reasons:
  1. We want to follow what Jesus taught and what Jesus did. Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, caring for the poor, teaching the ways of life that turn us into a blessing to others and breaking the bondage and curses that come from sin are important to Jesus. Because they are important to him, they are important to us.
  2. We want to follow the leading of the Spirit of God and this is what we think we should be doing.
  3. We really, deeply, enjoy helping our neighbors and their children. Make no mistake - while there are many loveable neighbors, there are some that are not so loveable. But learning how to show them love in practical ways changes us. Showing them that God and Jesus are interested in their lives can help change them.
  4. We want to learn how to become more effective in evangelism. Evangelism to us means connecting people to the real, authentic Jesus and our Father in heaven. If we are going to talk about the love of God, we think we should be showing the love of God. Camp Outreach has become a learning tool for us locally and for congregations across the country.
Thanks to all the volunteers and donors who helped make this year's Camp Outreach a success. With our growth, we feel that next year we plan to make changes. We've outgrown our local resources to manage everything that is being done so we are going to ask for help. With so many young people coming, we want to ask adults to do more in mentoring job skills (like how to paint properly, tape drywall, etc.), mentoring in life skills and in the faith, and jobsite management.

If you have comments or are interested in being a part of this effort, give me a call or shoot me an email.

Until later,

Guy

Guy Swenson
Common Ground Christian Ministries
gswenson@7words.com
317-707-5029