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Monday, April 4, 2016

#AllPeoplePractices


Here, we begin an ongoing series called #AllPeoplePractices. In partnership with the United Methodist Church for All People (C4AP) and the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR), we will take an in-depth look at a church that has been doing the work of multiethnic and multi-class ministry for some time now. 

My husband and I have attended C4AP for about seven  years now (see post: Why I Love C4AP). I've served as worship music director there for almost four years, and most recently I've also begun working full time for its non-profit sister organization, Community Development for All People (CD4AP). This series will explore what has worked for C4AP, and what hasn't. We'll use the lessons learned through the ministries of C4AP to help other local churches on their journey to embodying the inclusive Body of Christ. 

Posts for #AllPeoplePractices will appear periodically on an ongoing basis among the other articles in this space. To begin, here is an introduction to C4AP and the work it does:

The United Methodist Church for All People in Columbus, OH grew out of a message of unconditional love and an atmosphere of radical hospitality.  It is intentionally cross-class and multi-racial, living into its vision of building the 'Front Porch to the Kingdom of God.' The worship at C4AP reflects the diversity of the community, with multicultural worship music ranging from contemporary, to old hymns, to gospel, and sung in many styles and languages.

Church for All People (C4AP) is an inclusive community where all people are received with hospitality, find hope, experience God’s Divine Economy of Abundance, and are transformed through Jesus Christ. C4AP believes that "God loves us just the way we are and God is not finished with any of us yet!"

The Free Store is the flagship ministry of Church for All People.  In the past year, the Free Store has distributed over $2 million in free clothing and household items. It is the basis for all the ministries that have come after it, and is the foundation for building relationships with the community.

Through these relationships, C4AP listened to the hopes and dreams of those who shopped at the Free Store and heard the desire for more safe, decent, and affordable housing on the south side of Columbus. Since then, C4AP's non-profit sister organization Community Development for All People (CD4AP) has done nearly $50 million in affordable housing in its neighborhood, in partnerships with Nationwide Children’s Hospital (through Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families), the United Way of Central Ohio, and South Side Renaissance.

CD4AP also serves hundreds of students through its youth development programming.  During the school year, CD4AP provides a free after school program in partnership with the nearby Lincoln Park Elementary School. In the summer, CD4AP provides a Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools program as part of the national, CDF literacy-education movement that impacts the lives of children by cultivating a love of reading, encouraging high self-esteem, and offering amazing program opportunities.

CD4AP cares for the physical health of the community through its H.E.A.L. (Healthy Eating and Living) initiative. It's a program designed to accompany individuals as they set goals to improve their health.  H.E.A.L. includes a fresh produce market from which nearly 600,000 pounds of produce are distributed each year to over 1,500 families. H.E.A.L also provides health education classes, cooking classes, and exercise opportunities to the community.

And all this is just the beginning! I haven't even told you yet about the bike shop, the first birthdays, the community gardens, the leadership academy, the parent engagement, the career gateways, or the delicious cafe. It's all way too much to fit into one post, which is why we're launching this series to explore how churches can engage their communities in similar ways in order "to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world" (see the work and mission of GCORR).

Stay tuned to #AllPeoplePractices as we explore the many facets of Church and Community Development for All People, helping to equip all local churches to build the 'Front Porch to the Kingdom of God' in their own communities! In the meantime, follow C4AP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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