Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Your election to this high office has inspired people as few other events in recent times have done"
--Former South African President Nelson Mandela remarks upon the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of These United States 20 January in the year of Our Lord 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

"You can't depend on the train from Washington, it's 100 years overdue..."
--Gil Scott Heron

UPDATE: Barack and Joe ride into Washington--the late great Gil must be smiling... .

summer 1975, a 16 year old kid--i was with my parents for a visit to my Great Aunt Authalia Head and precious Uncle Head--their farm [at Gould, Arkansas] a family visit made roughly every two years. i remember awakening, beneath countless quilts, to the smell of fresh bacon...i also awakened to a nose bleed that would not cease.

Uncle Head offered his African American physician--Aunt Authalia wanted to show off her European American physician and his brand new office.

we left to have my nose bleed evaluated and treated. as we approached a new building with a paved parking lot in Star City Arkansas [nearly 20 miles due east of Gould], my Great Aunt directed my Dad to the 2nd parking lot. a lot faced without the glass and what i would come to know was a plush waiting room. we entered through a solid metal door, what appeared to be a factory entrance, by comparison [free of glass on the door or punctuating the block walls]. i assumed that the glassed waiting area where i saw tables, carpet and televisions was perhaps another practice or a laundromat.

after being treated with a vitamin k shot and an ice pack--i left the treatment area ahead of my parents and noticed two doors, one to the left which i opened--there were the televisions, carpet, plush chairs, "...NO NO!!", exclaimed the nurse, "...you use the other door..." the door to the right, the door i entered to reach the treatment area. this brand new medical practice had segregated [unlabeled, should you discount the plush accommodations, versus the metal folding chairs, solid brick walls--absence of windows and carpet in the black waiting room]. the reception area had a wall with a side pass-through allowing white patients to have a physician visit free of any encounter or eye-view of black patients.

to think that 112 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, announcing, "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious areas "are, and henceforward shall be free." and 21 years after the Supreme Court Ruling of Brown versus The Board of Education of Topeka, Segregation was alive and well.

to see the cusp [between a wicked past and a hopeful working future] of an African American; a Black Man assuming the role of President "of These United States of America" evokes emotion and initiates healing beyond expression
Church helps holistically
Vineyard's new Healing Center assists families through the Lord
By Karen Vance • Enquirer contributor • August 8, 2008
• • Print • Email • Type: A A • Click-2-Listen

"Small things done with great love will change the world."
That phrase is etched in the side of the building at the Vineyard Community Churchin Springdale.
But there are few things this church of 6,000 weekend worshipers does in a small way.
Its newest initiative, the Healing Center, is no exception. The church combined its MercyWorks assistance ministry with life growth and other educational classes and a prayer ministry.
"We were looking to combine the three ministries into one effort and take a more holistic approach to each person, each family and their circumstance," said Dave Workman, senior pastor. "We spent a lot of time creating an environment that is warm and dignified for people."
The result is a remodeled warehouse - purchased in May 2007 for $3.1 million - that appears more like an upscale college student union than a social service agency. Lounge areas, a coffee bar and food and clothing distribution storefronts are part of the facility that will serve as many as 2,000 families each month - about 6,000 individuals.
It's also a functioning environment with private cubicles for consultation, some with windows into a child care room equipped with toys and activity tables.
"Everything here is about relationships and getting to know people, making a connection and serving their real needs and the roots of what's put them into a situation," said Judy Gillens, the executive director of the center.
Gillens stresses that the center isn't a food bank or a clothing thrift shop. But it does distribute those items to its visitors when they're needed.
"We're able to help people in a well-rounded fashion. It's about connecting people with the Lord and helping them see that potential in themselves through the Lord," Gillens said.
The church's latest capital campaign of $12.6 million also included remodeling another 30,000 square feet of the warehouse to host a Student Union for the church's youth. The church also portioned funds to drill water wells in rural Nigeria.
Service to others has been a part of the Vineyard since it began on Christmas Eve in 1985 with 20 people in a living room . They decided to buy groceries and deliver them to some subsidized housing units in Hamilton.
"There's a point when a church reaches critical mass, and you're able to do things on a larger scale. It does help to be this size," Workman said.
Now the Healing Center has 500 volunteers signed up for regular positions - child care, job counselors, skills teachers and prayer team members.
As it continues to expand, they expect between 700 and 900 volunteers. Every volunteer goes through training for the center and the position they will fill.
But size also presents a challenge.
"You consider the number of people you can authentically pastor - I say it's about 10 to 12. So to combat that, we get people into smaller groups and smaller contexts where people can be real and honest and authentic."
But the level of anonymity that comes from being at a church of thousands allows seekers a place to explore without pressure.
The church calculates that 48 percent of the regular attendees are involved in a monthly service role, and more serve through occasional programs.
Yul Butler, 49, of Westwood is among that 48 percent. He is team leader for the jobs program at the Healing Center and works with individuals who are in a job transition.
It was the existing jobs ministry at then MercyWorks that drew Butler to the church. He was inspired by his uncle, a pastor in Detroit, who worked with chronically unemployed or underemployed.
"When I found out about this job ministry, I felt like, 'I'm home,' " he said. "I prayed to find a ministry where I could help people find a career or a calling that set their souls on fire that would excite them to go to work the next day. Life is too short to be in a job you can't stand."
Workman expects that sense of purpose and spiritual guidance to translate into everything volunteers will do at the Center.
"It had to be more than a social service agency; it had to be that there is a sense of the kingdom of heaven. It needed that supernatural aspect of the kingdom of God at work."
E-mail kbvance@roadrunner.com From:
Look who is serving you
Meet Yul Butler
What made you decide to volunteer in the Healing Center?
I started volunteering about four years ago in MercyWorks. I had been praying for a jobs ministry since 2002 and had asked church pastors to bring this ministry to their church. I then found the job coaching ministry here at VCC, and it is all that I had prayed for. I didn't have to become a church member to serve. All I had to do is serve. I enjoy working in the jobs ministry because I not only help people find employment but get to have conversations about things such as showing forgiveness in the work place and building trust in God.
What is the most exciting thing about volunteering in the Healing Center?
It is seeing God do what only God can do. People come in and ask how much do you get paid for working in the jobs ministry. I humorously say there is no amount of money that I could get paid for this.
What's your favorite book?
What's your favorite movie?
A Rhapsody in August depicts the fiftieth anniversary of the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In one part of the movie, the grandmother and her friend bow to each other and sit in silence together. When asked why they do this, she responds "Sometimes people are silent when they speak." God can be like that. It's up to him to use words immediately or later.