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.
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.
Pastor, Common Ground Christian Ministries