Category Archives: Mission

CTS Alum Develops App to Assist Those in Need

San Diego, CA – Sojourners recently sought the 50 “Greatest Social Justice Leaders We’ve Never Heard Of” to participate in “The Summit” at Georgetown University. Those leaders included Columbia Theological Seminary graduate Dr. Bill Jenkins (D.Min. ’85).

Founded in 1970 by Jim Wallis, Sojourners is the Washington DC community of leaders who care about changing the world through faith and justice. The Summit was their inaugural gathering of leaders from across the globe on issues affecting poverty, immigration, racial justice, women and girls rights, and the environment.

Jenkins, 66, who grew up in rural Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement, seemed unlikely to become either an urban minister or social justice advocate. But the United Methodist minister is setting a new model for how struggling urban churches may transition into new life and mission as urban ministry centers. He is also developing a revolutionary way churches, charities and social agencies can work together to meet the needs of the hungry, homeless, helpless and hurting.

From Church to Urban Ministry Center

In 1999, Bill Jenkins became pastor of Christ United Methodist Church (UMC) in the heart of San Diego. “Like many urban churches, each year we became a bit smaller, grayer, and had less money in the offering plate,” he said. In 2006, with church closure inevitable, he challenged the remaining congregation to transition from a traditional church into an “urban ministry center”. It took a bit of convincing, but with the approval of his Bishop, Christ UMC closed in 2011. Jenkins retired from the pulpit. Immediately, with no clear blueprint, he set out to create Christ Ministry Center.

Today, Christ Ministry Center touches the lives of over 1,000 individuals each week. A dozen ecumenical, multi-ethnic congregations share worship space in the large building. In addition, a dozen charities and ministries focused on serving the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, prisoners and immigrants (Matthew 25:35) call Christ Ministry Center home. That includes a grocery distribution, women’s prison ministry, satellite wellness clinic, outreach to battered women, orphans, and a safe haven for refugees who have at times even lived in the former church building.

Jenkins stated, “Two Methodist Bishops expressed Christ Ministry Center could serve as a model for how dying inner-city churches may find renewal in urban ministry. But it has to be more than just keeping the doors open. It must involve following Christ’s example and getting your hands dirty in meeting the spiritual and physical needs of the poor.”

The Fount of Blessings

Jenkins soon learned the biggest problem in urban ministry is matching those in need with the resources provided by churches and charities. He discovered an abundance of supplies and services being offered for the poor. But finding and sharing information about those resources was almost non-existent. “Two churches just blocks apart were unaware of what each other are doing to help those in need,” Jenkins said. “That leads to inefficiency, ineffectiveness, duplication of efforts, and failed opportunities in achieving our mission in helping the helpless.”

That is when he got a vision of creating a free website that allows both those providing help and those seeking help to find the basics they are looking for. Calling upon his tri-vocational experience as a technology manager, graduate school professor and ordained minister, Jenkins created The Fount of Blessings ( It is a central directory of hundreds of resources available in San Diego from churches, charities and social agencies to assist the poor.

Using metaphors from the 1757 A.D. hymn, “Come Thou Fount”, Jenkins explained “‘Founts’ are churches, charities or social agencies providing services, and ‘Streams of Mercy, never ceasing’ are the services each Fount provides, such as food, clothing and shelter. Even a small church may use The Fount to become a ‘virtual ministry center’ connecting those in need with these resources nearby.”

A short video at explains how The Fount of Blessings works.

“The Fount has the potential to revolutionize the way organizations can more easily and effectively work together to direct those in need to almost any resource available in their area,” Jenkins explained.

Going Nationwide

The free, ecumenical, non-profit website ( is meeting wide approval among clergy, social workers, non-profit managers, and government leaders in San Diego.

As the pilot project in San Diego nears completion, Jenkins plans to take The Fount nationwide as a smartphone app called AbundantHELP. He envisions the day when ministers, social workers and those seeking help will be able to find the closest food, clothing, shelter or two dozen other services nearest them with the click of a finger. “If it works in San Diego, it will work in New York, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles and all points between,” he added.

Jenkins concluded, “In 1984 I wrote my doctoral dissertation at Columbia Theological Seminary on the use of technology in the church. Technology has changed dramatically since then. But my thesis that churches should embrace technology remains more true today than when I wrote it. As I enter the final chapter of my ministry, it gives me great joy to combine technology and theology in providing a way for us all to do a better job in helping those in need.”

To learn more or to schedule an interview, please contact

The Rev. Dr. Bill Jenkins, Director
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
3295 Meade Avenue
San Diego CA 92116
(619) 723-1371 mobile

2014 Trip to Bethlehem

Travel to Bethlehem and stay at the Guesthouse of the International Center of Bethlehem October 21 – 30, 2014

Trip Itinerary:

  • Tue Oct 21: Depart USA Overnight flight to Tel Aviv.
  • Wed Oct 22: (TelAviv/Bethlehem) Upon arrival in Tel Aviv, meet your guide and transfer to Lutheran Guesthouse at the International Center of Bethlehem (ICB)All overnights will be at the Guesthouse.(meals in flight,D)
  • Thur Oct 23: (Bethlehem) Visit Dar al-Kalima Academy and Health and Wellness Center, an outgrowth of ICB, for the health and development of Bethlehem-area people, Christians and Muslims alike. Visit Deheishe Refugee Camp and Shepherds? Field. (B,D)
  • Fri Oct 24: (Jerusalem/ Bethlehem) Green Oive Tours will take you to a settlement and the Separation Wall, helping in understanding the impact of this action. Savor the Mt. of Olives, the Garden of Gesemane, the church of all Nations. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.(B,D)
  • Sat Oct 25: (Galilee/ Bethlehem) Travel to Galilee and enjoy a boatride on the Sea of Galilee. Visit the ancient Synagogue and St. Peter?s house at Capernaum. Stop at the Jordan River enroute back to Bethlehem.(B,D)
  • Sun Oct 26: (Bethlehem) Start the day with worship (in Arabic) at Christmas Lutheran Church, and join Rev.Dr. Mitri Raheb and the congregation for fellowship following the service. Walking tour of Bethlehem and Church of the Nativity, built over the cave-stable where tradition says Jesus was born. (B,D)
  • Mon Oct 27: (Jerusalem/Bethlehem) Tour the Old City, starting at the Western Wall; followed by the Temple Mount and the Golden Dome of the Rock. Walk the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Visit the Garden Tomb. Enjoy free time. Return to Bethlehem (B,D)
  • Tues Oct 28: (Bethlehem) A volunteer work project at Dar al Kalima Academy or College. (B,D)
  • Wed Oct 29: (Bethlehem) The day is for your leisure in exploring Bethlehem and the work of the International Center of Bethlehem. No guide or motorcoach today. Farewell dinner at the Guesthouse B,D)
  • Thur Oct 30: Return to USA Early morning transfer for flight to USA. (B,Meals in-flight)

code: B-breakfast D-dinner

  1. Travel dates October 21-30, 2014
  2. Trip cost includes airfare from Indianapolis (other cities available), luggage handling, housing, meals, transfers, guides $3499.00
  3. The Partnership of the Presbytery of Ohio Valley (POV) and the International Center of Bethlehem (ICB) includes travel opportunities.
  4. Local Host: Brad Napier, Pastor at or 812-528-0977 Full Brochure available from
  5. Trip arrangements are with Group Travel Directors- Kate Peer
  6. Sign up today Group G#141006 800-747-2255 e-mail:

The Presbytery of Ohio Valley(POV) Partnership with the International Center of Bethlehem (ICB) has been a work of the POV since August 2006. The Partnership provides scholarship dollars for students, funds for Dar al-Kalima College, used hearing aids to serve the 3000 audiology patients seen annually at the ICB Health and Wellness Center, travel and education, daily prayer and support for the Churches for Middle East Peace. The ICB is committed to education, health care,intercultural dialog and promoting the building of civil
society. The work is directed by Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb.

Individuals, 12 congregations two foundations and the Presbytery have given dollars and have sent 10 shipments of used hearing aids for the ICB Health and Wellness Center. The POV has hosted three staff members of the ICB and made 92 formal presentations. Travel to Bethlehem and see this partnership at work. The place where Jesus was born blesses the world today.

This partnership is a work of Peacemaking. The ICB is an Extra Commitment Opportunity (ECO) of the Presbyterian Church USA. What a gift, when we hear news of Israel/Palestine, to know the good work being done and that we are part of that work. As Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb says, “We are not called to be spectators, but actors in shaping a new identity that
includes all peoples in this land and in God’s lands.”

Bright Stars of Bethlehem Presentation in Columbus, IN

Rev. Scott Hill and Beth Nelson Chase

Rev. Scott Hill and Beth Nelson Chase talk.

On Sunday, July 14th, Beth Nelson Chase, VP of Bright Stars of Bethlehem, brought greetings and thanks from the Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, to First Presbyterian Church, Columbus, Indiana. The Presbytery of Ohio Valley has a Partnership with the International Center of Bethlehem.  Beth reports that this Partnership, which is now seven years old, is a model for other denominations, and she expressed gratitude for all that the Partnership means in Bethlehem.

Beth reports that the Presbyterian Church (USA) Foundation recently announced investments in the work the POV has been partnered with for these seven years. The Foundation has researched work being done in Palestine, and have agreed to oversite of investments of the work under the direction of Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb. This is an opportunity to work with the people of Bethlehem, who are touching the lives of 60,000 a year in the city and surrounding villages with the services for elders, young families, children, young adults, students and in health and wellness.

In addition, Beth reports that the Dar al-Kalima College is now accredited as a four-year institution of higher education. This accreditation opens possibilities for exchange and the sharing of resources with institutions around the globe. The Dean of the college, Dr. Nuha Khoury declares, “This is a work of life for young people in Palestine.”

The morning event included a Brunch such as is served at the Guesthouse in Bethlehem.  The tables were full of flowers and photos taken by the people from the Presbytery of Ohio Valley who have traveled to Bethlehem as part of the Partnership work.

Mission Partnership News

From Jo Lucas of Mission Partnership:

We are blest to be partnered with work in Bethlehem.  We can celebrate this award, with all those around the world who support this work. To date the Presbytery of Ohio Valley congregations, individuals, foundations and the POV have provided nine scholarships, 23 people have traveled there, seven batches of used hearing aids have been sent, 87 formal presentations have been made, $125,000.00 has been sent for the work there, and prayer is offered daily for the work in Bethlehem and in Indiana.

The Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb of Bethlehem is announced as a winner of the International Award “Deutscher Medienpreis” for 2011.

The official announcement of Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb as recipient of the 2011 prestigious international award “Deutscher Medienpreis” was made in Germany today Friday, January 13, 2012. Launched in 1992, the award was mainly granted to Heads of States, including …the German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2009), the Dali Lama (2008), King Juan Carlos of Spain (2006), Kofi Anan (2003), Queen Rania of Jordan (2002), , Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (2000), Bill Clinton (1999), Nelson Mandela (1998), King Hussein of Jordan (1997), Boris Yeltsin (1996), President Arafat (1995), Yitshak Rabin (1995), Francois Mitterrand (1994), Chancellor Helmut Cole (1993), in addition to few and selected personalities such as Sir Richard Branson (2010), Steffi Graf (2007), Bono (2005) and Rudolph Giuliani (2002).

Aside from Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, the award is given to the Russian Stanislaw Petrow, who prevented a potential third world nuclear war in 1983; the Afghani Dr. Sakena Yacoobi who worked diligently on empowering women in Afghanistan; and to Dr. Denis Mukwege from Congo, who assisted thousands of rape victims in the Congo war.

The decision of the jury to give the award to Rev. Dr. Raheb was based on his tireless work in creating room for hope for his people, who are living under Israeli Occupation, through founding and building institutions of excellence in education, culture and health. He was also recognized due to his strong position and stance on the Culture of Life and Dialogue.

The official ceremony will be held in the city of Baden-Baden in Germany on February 14, 2012. The keynote speaker during the celebration will be the previous German Chancellor Professor Roman Herzog.

Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb expressed his delight to receive this prestigious award, since it is indicative of the international appreciation and recognition of his efforts that are made on the local, regional and international levels.  He is pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church, Bethlehem, and founder and director of the Diyar Consortium, a group of educational, healing, and cultural ministries.
For more information, go to:

Souper Bowl of Caring

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” Luke 6:21

Presbyterian youth are leading the way to help feed the hungry

  • Since Presbyterian youth in Columbia, SC started locally the Souper Bowl of Caring in 1989, youth from all over the country have raised over $80 million for food banks, soup kitchens, and food pantries.
  • The Souper Bowl of Caring has become a national movement uniting congregations, schools, community organizations, corporations, and compassionate individuals in the fight against hunger.
  • Last year 2,153 Indiana youth collected $154,373. Indiana Presbyterians were the largest group, with 40 congregations participating.
  • As Indianapolis hosts “the Big Game” on February 5, 2012, we want to make this the largest food mission outreach in our history. One in four children is hungry in Marion County, and one in six children suffers food deprivation across Indiana. As Indiana is in the spotlight, we can use the energy and pride of hosting the game in order to share God’s Love with those in need.

Our goal is to raise $300,000 for Indiana, and with your congregation’s help we can do it! Encourage your church’s youth group to:

1. Register online at to receive free materials.
2. Collect donations between Jan 15 and Feb. 5 (the day of “the Big Game”)
3. Come to the Service Blitz Rally, Sat. Feb 4th at Arsenal Tech High School in Indy, followed by a morning of volunteer work at Westminster Neighborhood Ministries.
4. Report their results on the website to be included in the national total.
5. Donate 100% of the collection to the hunger charity of their choice.

Contact Carolyn Dederer, Indiana Field Director, Souper Bowl of Caring (317) 372-5122,

A Special Hour About Africa with Nancy Collins

UPDATE: This Event has been cancelled.

Tuesday, October 25, 7:00 in the Laws Room at First Presbyterian, Columbus.

Nancy, a Presbyterian Mission Consultant, will share about her work and converse with us about new directions for Presbyterian World Mission. Nancy Collins is regional liaison for East Africa. She facilitates PC(USA) relationships with partner churches and institutions in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia. She also provides support for PC(USA) mission personnel and is a resource for U.S. congregations who are in a relationship with one of our partners in the region. Nancy’s special focus is on the evangelism, leadership development and church-growth work.

Dessert will be provided.

Friends from other congregations are certainly welcome!

Self-Development of People in Alabama

By Dan Stephens

A group of youthsYouth on the Move and Youth Making a Difference project participants. Photo courtesy of Open Door Resource Center.

Over the past several years, the Self-Development of People Committee of Sheppards and Lapsley has been cultivating long-term relationships with community partners throughout Central Alabama.   Through the efforts of past-chairperson Jessie N. Williams, our SDOP Committee has connected with the Open Door Resource Center in Furman, Alabama.  Furman is located in one of the poorest counties in the United States, but through the efforts of community leaders such as Doris Smith, children and teenagers are able to develop their leadership skills, improve their academic performance, and develop broad life-skills.  SDOP has helped fund the Youth on the Move and Youth Making a Difference programs at the Open Door Resource Center for several years, and has been pleased to see the programs expand to include collaborations with Tuskegee University and other community groups.

Sheppards and Lapsley’s SDOP Committee has also helped fund the “Daddy’s Little Girls” project, in connection with the Community Action Association of Alabama. The program, organized by Ken King with support from Lukata Mjumbe, developed Fatherhood Committees of socioeconomically oppressed fathers in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham to help develop stronger relationships among fathers and daughters.  The fathers gathered to share their own wisdom with one another, and also learned new skills and perspectives from trained workshop leaders.  The fathers even learned how to help style their daughters’ hair as a means of bridging the relationship gaps that can develop between fathers and daughters.   The program includes employed, under-employed, unemployed, homeless, single, married, custodial, and non-custodial fathers.

The SDOP Committee of Sheppards and Lapsley rejoices to see how the spirit of God is empowering people to strengthen their communities in creative and meaningful ways!

This article is re-posted from the PC(USA) web site. To read more about Self-Development of People, go to