Archives for posts with tag: Grand Rapids

Dr. John Perkins, Bob Lupton and CCDA Regional Conference come to Grand Rapids MI the first weekend in March at the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and Cornerstone University.

Theme:  Leverage

Regional Conference

For more information visit the Leverage Conference website.


W Mich Reg Conf 2013Next week, February 28 – March 2, CCDA West Michigan Regional Conference meets in Grand Rapids.  The cost is amazingly low ($50 for the entire event).  If you can’t attend all three days you can register for Friday or Saturday ($30).  Special student rate also offered.  This is a great deal to learn from and network with community development practitioners.


Gail and I are on the road in Michigan this weekend.

Today, Grand Rapids, as Gail conducts some business as the territory’s Youth Secretary.  Right now I am in the Grand Rapids Public Library working on liberation theology as I prep for my North Park Seminary midterm exam.  I need to grab some lunch.  Heading to the Wealthy Street Bakery.

BTW, I was courteously greeted as I entered this library.  A welcome smile, not made to feel like a criminal.  Unlike the main Chicago Public Library.

A few years ago when we lived in Chicago we visited the big main building, actually you can’t think anything but ‘edifice’ when you see this honking piece of work on Congress.

We were made to feel that each security agent stationed throughout the library viewed us as likely suspects, up to no good.  Okay, they feel they have to do something with people who are homeless.  That’s one way of dealing with Chicagoans who want to be in a warm safe place.  But, really?  Made to feel a criminal for a library visit?  I have not forgotten.

Sunday, we will be on Detroit’s east side at the Detroit Harding Corps with Captains Javier and Kelsie Moreno.

Jav and Kelsie are doing some great work there and we are way past due for a Sunday visit to their corps.  I’ll post.

I know we will be welcomed there.

Time to pack.  I’m still using that blue Andiamo duffel I picked up in 1991.  It’s like an old friend.  Dependable and predictable as to what it will allow of me.

Fact is that I was in the Twin Cities last weekend, a good three days with Salvation Army people of our Lakewood Temple Corps located in Maplewood MN.  Leaders who are eager to serve their world, particularly the worlds of urban and young people.  Gail and I presented on these subjects.  Thank you, Christina Tamayo and Majors Jim and Candy Curl for the opportunity.

Now, to the Hilton Minneapolis for this evening’s start of the Christian Community Development Association’s national conference.  I am always inspired by the CCDA conference.  Great speakers in the evening plenary sessions (open to the public).  Local musicians featured, too.  And will the Chicago based band Foster be back?  Hope so.

This year we did not promote conference participation of Salvation Army people via scholarships as we’ve done the past two years.  Next year we hope to do so again.  But I’ll see Andres Villatoro, Envoy Don Lamar and Sharon Barber today.  Also, Arike Mason with two of her young people participating in the National Student Leadership Intensive.  Any other SA folks at CCDA?

I am reading Bob Lupton‘s Toxic Charity which he will present in a workshop I plan to attend.  Excellent book.  Bob’s critique on Salvation Army Kroc Centers:  ouch.  Is he fair?  Is he well-informed?  I feel Bob would know more if he were privy to conversations ongoing between Army leaders.

The Krocs are a story in progress.  Bob’s vision of focusing on outcomes rather than activity (or we could say outputs) is not foreign to all Kroc leadership.  Yes, some are yet primarily output-focused.  But there is a developing sense of focusing our activity for long-term impact in the community.  For instance, at the Grand Rapids MI Kroc led by Major Marc Johnson.  But I will admit that the concept of a focused strategy is often in tension with the Army’s tendency to operate in a general way, for which we often could rightly be taken to task by voices such as Lupton’s.

So, the question may be this:  how will it all turn out?

John, you were right.  Smashburger is the best.  The best tasting hamburger.  And the sweet potato fries with bits of rosemary.  With a cherry Coke.  And a charming 7 month old baby girl seated next to me.  Doesn’t get much better than that.  Sydney is the daughter of Jason and Kelly Pope.

It was lunch this afternoon after the MAP Conference in Grand Rapids.

Some of my personal highlights of the Mission and Purpose Weekend based at the Grand Rapids Kroc Center:

  • John Kim Friday night showing us how Korean grandmothers clap for his son Josh as he runs in a foot race
  • A solemn faced delegate quietly coming up to me then pulling out of his pocket a 12 gauge shotgun … shell, a rifled slug.  He found it Saturday afternoon while part of a I’ll Fight Day Mission crew cleaning up a neighborhood lot.  What do you do with ammunition?  I forgot about it until on the drive home and felt it in my jacket pocket.  Gail suggested I take it out now before I have the TSA people find it on me at an airport.  Good idea.
  • Mary, a Soldier from the Milwaukee West Corps, sent by her Corps Officers, Captains Steve and Latdavanh Kounthapanya.  Mary is Burmese and has a heart for Burmese Christians who have relocated to the USA, struggling to keep their faith while trying to adjust to the American life.  She would like to do something to help minister to them.
  • One young man who saw the promotional cards and is now interested in the St Louis Temple Houses.
  • The chatter all day Saturday after Jason and Kelly Pope’s presentation on organic officership, organic Army.
  • Commissioner Carol Seiler’s Sunday morning message, particularly one phrase, “the freedom of responsibility” which was also flipped around to “responsibility of freedom”.  I immediately cross referenced it to Bonhoeffer’s “world come of age”, a tantalizing phrase in Letters and Papers From Prison.  Human autonomy.
  • Superb food and ‘radical hospitality’ courtesy of the Kroc food department led by Ben Price.  Who holds a degree from Asbury Seminary in missions.  Ben’s theology of the table guides his ministry on the Kroc team.
  • The pleasure this morning of watching Commissioner Carol preach and Major Marc Johnson translate into Spanish.  The Grand Rapids Kroc Church is a multicultural church where worship is bilingual on Sunday morning.
  • The pool, gym, game room and other pleasant pursuits available after plenary sessions and the IFD Missions, but what did most delegates chose?  To spend time visiting.  Meeting and getting to know one another.
  • Shawn Okpebholo revealing that The Singing Company is his 7 month old daughter’s favorite.  When played, TSC music soothes Eva.

One last highlight.

Saturday afternoon Captain Melissa Fry of the Heartland Division was working with a team raking leaves.  She looked over and saw an old man trying to move a large piece of wood.  She watched and then offered help.  They struggled but together succeeded in moving it.  She asked him what was he thinking, trying to move something he could not move.  He said he knew that God would send help.

Note to self.  I googled and there is a Smashburger just ten minutes away.

Later today we will leave the Kroc Center in Grand Rapids MI where we’ve been meeting with 164 delegates of the Mission and Purpose weekend.  Great speakers, workshops, and the weather cleared up for work outdoors Saturday afternoon.

After lunch MAP delegates divided up into twelve teams of workers to join the Kroc Center’s I’ll Fight Day Missions.  Raking leaves in their neighbors’ yards, picking up trash along Division Street, randomly treating drivers at intersections with fresh donuts, visiting homes of students to celebrate their progress at the Kroc’s tutoring program, distributing batteries for smoke detectors.  Very real ways to go and to give in the Kroc neighborhood.

We shared our stories with each other at the evening plenary session led by Captain Scott Shelbourn of Omaha NE.  We also heard Dr. Shawn Okpebholo tell his story of how his and his family’s lives were changed because they were visited by Salvation Army people.   Shawn is now a professor of music at Wheaton College as well as a part of the Army’s Oakbrook Terrace Corps, an outstanding place of Salvation Army mission to its community in Chicago’s western suburbs.

Frank Massolini also was with MAP on Saturday night.  He showed us a video telling about the PROMISE Initiative in Chicago.  PROMISE is the Partnership to Rescue Our Minors from Sexual Exploitation which tells you how the Salvation Army under Frank’s leadership is dealing with a widespread yet virtually unnoticed injustice in Chicago, its suburbs, the Midwest, in the USA.  In fact, Frank pointed out to us that even as we picked up trash along Division Street he watched a pimp at work.

Frank has been involved for 24 years in this initiative.  He told us why.   Today Frank serves as Director of PROMISE, a full-time work which he does as a volunteer.  His story was moving.  He is a man with a mission who has found the Army to be his place of mission.  Thank you and God bless you, Frank.

Time to begin the day, got to go.  Try to write again later today about MAP to share more.

I am accompanying the Territorial Youth Secretary this weekend.

She is at Little Pine Island Camp for Youth Councils in the Western Michigan and Northern Indiana Division and I get to stay with her, as long as I keep mostly out of sight per our working agreement.  This evening I went in to Grand Rapids for a bite to eat, a great bowl of vegetable soup and bread at the Wealthy Street Bakery.  I splurged on a caffe breve.  It was good.  It’s like a soothing spa experience on the inside.

Wealthy Street Bakery is a few blocks away from Sigsbee Street where our daughter Natalya and her family lived for most of this past year.  They moved away this Wednesday for an internship at an organic farm near Adrian MI.  Her oldest son, Zane, moved with a new dog bite.  It sounds frightening to say that he was attacked by a pit bull, true.  The good thing is that he is fine with only an ugly looking gash where a dog would naturally bite a person running away.  You understand.

Dogs in the city carry a different meaning from dogs in the country.  I grew up in the country.  Our dogs lived outside, they barked at sounds in the night, surrounded strange autos turning around in our driveway.  A dog in the city carries a different significance.

The night before he moved, Zane was playing with his friend Meechee in front of the house when the dog belonging to the neighbor across the street once again came for whoever happened to be in sight.  Meechee got in to the gate safely.  Zane almost did.  Meechee’s sisters came to Zane’s rescue, chasing away the dog and getting the boy through the gate.  Three hours at the ER.  Bandaged and a tetanus shot.  He’s okay.

After that caffe breve (I’ve got to go back tomorrow) I drove past the house.  What if they encountered some difficulty in packing and were still there?  I drove past.  The house was empty.

To Wealthy and up Diamond.  Through this charming urban neighborhood.  Many young adults walking on this early spring evening in Michigan.  A number of families.  A neighborhood unlike Chicago neighborhoods.  Quieter, muted, slower rhythms.  This part of Grand Rapids like much of the city has older housing stock.  Now, a generation of Americans used to well-worn clothes from resale shops is now inhabiting well-worn neighborhoods.  It’s charming, is counter the mid 2oth century American dream of socio-economic upward mobility and conspicuous consumption.  Conspicuously inconspicuous.

Here in Grand Rapids.  St Louis’ Denton Park.  Detroit a block or two west of Woodward.  These new chapters in urban living across America have now appeared.  Their muted presence expresses scaled down expectations and distancing from a now fading view.

Natalya’s grandfather, a Minnesota farmer, would have grinned to hear that she’s going to be a farmer.  Not on a corporation owned spread of several thousand acres.  On a small organic Michigan farm maybe not even a hundred acres.

Take a look at what is happening in America and in its cities.  In quiet and subtle ways change is going on, people are moving.  But the dogs keep biting.

Yesterday I visited the Grand Rapids MI Kroc Center in preparation of the Mission and Purpose Conference, October 28-30, to be hosted at this newest of six Kroc Center openings in the Midwest.

In the course of our MAP planning Major Marc Johnson and Captain Peter Mount began sharing the vision for the Grand Rapids Kroc.  I tend to think in terms of programs conducted in the Kroc Center.  It’s easy to do so.  A large, well staffed, busy building.  Lots of people coming and going.  Gym, exercise areas, a cafe greeting all who walk in, state of the art auditorium/chapel, etc.  But after listening to Major Johnson and Captain Mount it’s clear that they are thinking in terms of community development.

Major Johnson shared demographics of the 1 mile radius for this southeast area surrounding the Kroc.  Almost evenly Hispanic, African-American, Caucasian.  What should those walking into the Kroc look and sound like?  You figured it out.  And what can be done in the building and programs to make the Kroc a welcoming and meaningful place to participate in its programs?  Right again.

Back to community development.  Captain Mount described a monthly commitment made by the corps of the Kroc Center, the fellowship of Salvation Army officers and soldiers who gather for spiritual formation through worship and discipleship.

The corps opened in October and soon decided to devote one day a month to go out and give to the surrounding neighborhoods of the Kroc Center.  Last fall, raking leaves.  This winter, shoveling sidewalks so children can get to school.  Helping those living on the streeets of southeast Grand Rapids with their needs, hurts, and hopes.  Lawn care for those who can’t, and even those who could but haven’t yet seen what it can do for their home and community.  Captain Peter shared one story of a woman who was so deeply moved at the Kroc crew that she disappeared, returning from the store with refreshments for the crew.  It’s nice when streets and homes are fixed up.  It is glory to see lives touched and a day transformed.

Go and give.  Mission unadorned.  For God so loved the world, that he … for God sent His Son …

MAP weekend?  October 28-30 we may join the corps in its mission while we are at the Grand Rapids Kroc Center.

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