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 and organizations. The partners are Crossway community, St Nicholas Greek orthodox, House of God, Immanuel RCA, Ada Bible, COS, 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.
Camelot Community Partners meet every other month for planning. 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
The overarching Story in the Bible begins in the Garden of Eden and ends in a city lined with fruit trees. The trees’ leaves are for the healing of the nations. If you garden with us at COS, you’ll get a little taste of how God uses the earth to bring people together.
The COS community garden began in 2010 as a way for native English speakers and refugees learning English to learn from each other. Over the years we’ve had gardeners from Bhutan/Nepal, Bosnia, Burma/Myanmar, Canada, the Congo, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Myanmar, Peru, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and the U.S. We’ve learned you can eat sweet potato leaves and plant beans in clumps. Some plants that look like weeds to Americans are prized as food in other cultures. And the Bosnian word for tomato sounds like the English word paradise. When 4×8-foot plots are available, we assign them to people who promise to tend them at least once a week. Even though everyone grows their own plot, gardeners often choose to share produce.
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. Ross and Rita Buitendorp & Steve Mulder, and Dan, Christian & Marji Voetberg coordinate the ministry.
The United Nations World Happiness Report for 2015 includes this comment about the kind of civic action we need worldwide: “…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. We come to know our students well, and we think, more often than not, that we are the closest American English speakers that our students know.
Friendship ESL at COS draws 80-100 students a week in good weather, less in winter. Students come from every continent, all the major faiths, and all ages (presently late teens to late 80s). All who come are welcome, and children are welcome in the nation’s preeminent church nursery here at COS. We offer occasional citizenship test preparatory classes, and specialized (seasonal) classes on trauma healing.
About two dozen tutors staff four sessions a week, each session with six classes ranging from Pre-literate to Advanced . New tutor volunteers and substitutes (ready to teach any level) are very welcome. We also welcome high school age young people and college students to come, teach, assist a tutor, or mentor individuals. These opportunities are full of relational possibilities and educational challenges. For young adults still in school, Friendship ESL is an excellent opportunity to show college and graduate school admissions officers that you are engaged with people from everywhere.
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 Support Team
In the past two years COS has co-sponsored 27 refugees with either Bethany Christian Services or Samaritas. RST’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.
RST 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. RST anticipates 9-12 more refugees in the next 12 months. RST members are also active members in the BES community. RST 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 Pam Plantinga.