As children of the light, we desire to present Jesus Christ to others by showing God’s love for the world and promoting justice and peace for our neighbors near and far.
Contact the church office for more information on how to get involved!
Read on for information from the Outreach Team’s October Newsletter
Camelot Community Partners
CCP is a coalition of area churches along with Camelot Woods Apartments and Ridge Park Charter Academy. Its mission is to the surrounding community which consists mainly of lower income and refugee families. Its goal is to show God’s love and help people get to know him. The partners’ efforts have included ice cream socials, block parties, hat/scarf/glove giveaways, basketball camp, and Vacation Bible School.
Partners meet monthly for prayer on the first Wednesday. Discussion revolves around past and future events and ideas for new and interesting ways of touching lives with Christ’s love. In the coming year, CCP is looking forward to continuing this mission and ramping up for all the various events. Pray that Christ continues to use us to reach out to our neighbors, letting them know that they are also part of His community.
For more information on Camelot Community Partners, contact Lori Wiersma at Lori.firstname.lastname@example.org
COS Community Garden
This season we had 21 gardeners from Bosnia, Iran, Peru, Sri Lanka and the U.S.—with eight each from Bosnia and the U.S. Thanks to sharing contact information, several people got to know each other and shared surplus vegetables, became Facebook friends, watered for each other on vacations, or traded gardening advice. Gardeners came up with good solutions. For example, Karen Saupe built a tool corral out of a wooden pallet and Farkisa Selmic bought a bicycle lock for the garden gate, which solved the problem of rude (somewhat scary) men stealing vegetables. We request prayers for the Bosnian gardeners who are dealing with cancer and chronic illness. It’s been interesting for Muslim and Christian gardeners to talk together about prayer.
COS Food Ministries
One in eight Americans faces hunger every day. COS provides in two ways.
Stationary Food Pantry Managed by Ellen Westrate and operating in the COS building, the pantry routinely provides help to 45 households. Open on Mondays from 10 am to 1 pm and Wednesdays from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm, several volunteers assist with stocking and organizing the pantry shelves. Cascade Meijer graciously invites COS to participate in the Simply Give campaign; these contributions provide nearly all funding for COS’s Stationary Food Pantry.
Mobile Food Pantry (MFP) COS purchases 5000 pounds of surplus fruits, vegetables, dairy products and bakery goods for COS distribution in the Camelot Woods parking lot the first Saturday of each month. Twelve out of a roster of 50 volunteers assist in the food distribution each time. Bev & Jon Klynstra, Nancy & Steve Mulder, and Dan, Christian & Marji Voetberg coordinate the ministry. Interested in MFP volunteering? Contact Bev Klynstra at (616) 901-7389.
The United Nations World Happiness Report for 2015 pegs the United States as 15th in happiness worldwide. Number 14 is Mexico; number 16 is Brazil. The Report includes this comment about what civic action we need: “…raising individual skill levels and creating an educated citizenry.” Isn’t that the long track record of ESL instruction at COS? Yes, in part. Many people have found friendship here and language skills. You should see the hugs and hear the glee between returning tutors and returning students. The program this fall carries a new moniker, Friendship ESL at COS. Our Facebook page goes by the same name as well.
Numbers grew in Week 2. 89 students attended sessions, up from 70 in Week 1. That’s good news. Word of mouth brings out the people. Still needed: one regular tutor (Tuesday mornings) and 3-4 subs for all sessions. These opportunities are full of relational possibilities and educational challenges.
Prisoners in Christ
Prisoners in Christ (PinC) is the prison and justice ministry started by Troy Rienstra in 2004 and endorsed by COS in 2005, the same year the CRCNA approved a restorative justice report for implementation in the churches. Over the past 12 years the major focus of PinC has been partnering with Troy and others to create our network of trust, accountability, collaboration and training – CONTACT – on both sides of prison walls.
The PinC committee intends to expand CONTACT into a Network for Real Change that will coach and connect people who are committed to heal the harms they caused. The new initiative Net4REAL requires raising capital and investing in entrepreneurship training, small business startups, and cooperative housing. We invite you to join us on the journey toward a restorative, beloved community where together we “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly” with God and one another. Talk with Pastor Rich Rienstra for more information.
Refugee Task Force
In the past two years COS has co-sponsored 27 refugees with either Bethany Christian Services or Samaritas. RTF’s help has included providing travel funds for family reunification for asylees as well as assistance in adjusting to life in America. This includes helping people with household goods and clothing, transportation to appointments, bicycles, driver training, help in finding employment and just being a friend to newcomers. It has often meant assistance in working through the complex process of bringing other family members to the USA.
RTF welcomed its first arrival for the new year on October 6, a single Sri Lankan male from Thailand. Initially, he will live with our Sri Lankan family in Burton’s Landing. RTF anticipates 9-12 more refugees in the next 12 months. RTF members are also active members in the BES community. RTF always needs volunteers who can help with any aspect of refugee resettlement. Contact Nita Vander Berg if you would like to serve in this way.
Ridge Park Charter Academy
Ridge Park Mentors meet for an hour each week with a student at Ridge Park Charter Academy. The friendship and encouragement of an adult outside their family can significantly reduce a student’s risk of academic failure. COS is beginning its 10th year mentoring Ridge Park students. This fall COS has been joined by three Camelot Community Partnership churches. Our hope in joining forces is to have a larger pool of mentors available, ensuring that no child who is referred for mentoring this year will go without.
Mentoring usually involves some tutoring, but mostly we encourage and build a friendship with a young person. Mentors have found these friendships to be rewarding. Students look forward to their time with us and usually reward us with a big hug. We ask that mentors commit to one school year, but many mentors have continued with their student for more than one year. You meet with your student during the school day, so you need a schedule that allows for that. Meeting times are arranged by you and the child’s teacher. We need some new mentors this fall and currently have one child who is waiting for a special friend. If you love being with young people and think you may be interested in becoming a mentor, contact Maureen Stewart.