Sunday, July 15, 2012

Green Village UMC and Malawi

 Dr. Michael Christensen, Director of Communities of Shalom
for the United Methodist Church, Rev. Clarissa
South Holland, Pastor of Green Village United Methodist Church, Dennis Singini, Guest preacher and Regional Shalom Trainer in Malawi

The United Methodist Church in Green Village was delighted to welcome Dennis Singini, Regional Shalom Trainer For Communities of Shalom International, to her pulpit on July 1, 2012. We were also pleased to have the Director of Communities of Shalom, Dr. Michael Christensen in worship. Communities of Shalom is a ministry of the United Methodist Church, located at Drew University, that focuses on "neighborhood revitalization and community transformation." Dr. Michael Christensen, Director of Communities of Shalom for the United Methodist Church describes shalom as "more than a Jewish way of saying hello, shalom is more than 'peace' as the absence of conflict. Shalom means health, healing, harmony, wholeness, well-being, and shared prosperity in our community."  Pastor Singini shared with the Green Village United Methodist Church that his "job" is to bring shalom to his community by providing basic necessities like food, clean water, and medical care to the people of Malawi. The United Methodist Women of Green Village collected yarn to send home with Dennis for church women to use to help support their families and orphans in Mzuzu. 

Submitted by: Rev. Clarissa South Holland 973-822-2764 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

At work today in the Henri Nouwen Archives

Michael Christensen reviews Henri Nouwen's Original Journals in Archives
The Henri J. M. Nouwen Archives &  Research Collection at the University of Toronto (St. Michael's College) is a warm and welcoming place.

This is my 4th visit to the Archives to review unpublished journals and manuscripts by Henri Nouwen (my professor at Yale) so that Rebecca Laird and I can complete the developmental editing of the third and final volume in the Spiritual Trilogy being published by HarperCollins.

These posthumous books by Nouwen are based on his courses on Christian Spirituality at Yale and Harvard, and his unpublished manuscripts and journals.  The series moves from questions to movements to connections:

Volume One is on  Spiritual Direction:  Living the Questions of the Spiritual Life  (available now)
Volume Two is on  Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit (available now)
Volume Three is on Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life (scheduled for release in 2013)

Jessica Barr, Archives Assistant, with Michael Christensen in Special Collections, Kellly Library

Volume Two of the Spiritual Trilogy is available

Henri Nouwen, the world-renowned spiritual guide and counselor, understood the spiritual life as a journey of faith and transformation that is deepened by accountability, community, and relationships. Though he counseled many people during his lifetime, his principles of spiritual formation were never written down. Michael Christensen and Rebecca Laird have taken his famous course in spiritual formation and supplemented it with his unpublished writings to create the definitive series on Nouwen’s thoughts on the Christian life.

Spiritual Formation, showcases Nouwen’s life-long effort to re-construct the five classical stages of spiritual development as movements in the journey of faith. The five classical stages are these:
1. Awakening (our desire)
2. Purgation (purifying our passions)
3. Illumination (of God)
4. Dark Night (of the Soul)
5. Unification (with God)

Readings, stories, questions for personal reflection, and guided journal inquiry as articulated by Nouwen will provide readers with an experience in spiritual formation with the well-known author, priest, and guide.

HENRI J. M. NOUWEN (1932-1996) was the author of With Open Hands, Reaching Out, The Wounded Healer, Making All Things New, and many other bestsellers. He taught at Harvard, Yale, and Notre Dame universities before becoming the senior pastor of L’Arche Daybreak in Toronto, Canada, a community where men and women with intellectual disabilities and their assistants create a home for one another.
MICHAEL J. CHRISTENSEN, PH.D., is national director of Communities of Shalom at Drew University, where he teaches spirituality and practical theology. He studied with Henri Nouwen at Yale Divinity School.
REBECCA LAIRD, M.A., D. MIN., is the associate professor of Christian ministry at Point Loma Nazarene University where she teaches spiritual formation and Christian ministry.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Four Ministers of Shalom: Baaumu Moses, Dennis Singini, Gaius Charles and Julius Kasaija

Pastor Clarissa Holland hosted a BBQ this afternoon at her home in honor of Pastor Dennis Singini (from Mzuzu, Malawi), Pastor Baaumu Moses (from Jinja, Uganda) and Mr. Julius Kasaija (from Western Uganda).

All three men were certified this week by Drew Theological School as Regional Shalom Trainers. All three work directly with children and families HIV/AIDS in their countries.   And all three represent ministry supported by WorldHope Corps, Inc.

At the BBQ for WorldHope Corps donors and friends, they expressed deep gratitude for their partners in ministry, and new friends they met this week in NJ and NYC.  This was their first trip to the USA, thanks to their generous sponsors who made it possible to receive Shalom Training.

Green Village UMC Welcomes Dennis Singini

Dr. Michael Christensen, Rev. Clarissa Holland and Pastor Dennis Singini

The United Methodist Church in Green Village, NJ, welcomed Pastor Dennis Singini to their Pulpit today for Communion Sunday.

Dennis, a circuit-riding pastor in Malawi, is program coordinator for CitiHope Malawi, in charge of food[1] and medical distributions and HIV/AIDS training for churches[2].  

Dennis also works for WorldHope Corps in Malawi on its Well-rig crew, drilling deep-water wells for villages without a clean water supply (see previous posts).

And Dennis also serves as a Regional Shalom Trainer in Malawi for Communities of Shalom International, based at Drew University.  He was in NJ this week as part of Drew’s certification program for regional Shalom Trainers meeting at the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association for their annual 36-hour Training of Trainers event.

He shared today with the Green Village congregation about “What God is doing in Malawi” in relation to 2 Cor. 8:7-15 and Gal 3:28. 

The 2 Corinthians passage refers to the “Manna Provision” in Exodus, about how “those who gathered much did not gather too much, and those who gathered little did not gather too little, so that all had what they needed.”  (Exo 16:18)

In Northern Malawi, Dennis explained, “there are families who went to church this morning without having anything to eat today. There are villages without a clean water source, where a shallow well or a stream [with contaminated water] is the only place to go.  A dog will drink from this stream, a cow will drink from this stream, and children will drink from this same stream.”[3]  In his role as overseeing pastor of 11 small, poor congregations in remote villages, Dennis sees first hand “how farmers don’t even harvest enough for their own families.”

Galatians 3:28, Dennis reminded us today, “says that there is no Jew or Gentile, there is no Male or Female, there is no Slave of Free, but we are one in Christ Jesus.  Therefore we should care about each other and love each other equally in Christ.  I’m sure none of you have had to sleep with farm animals; none of you have had to eat grain with chickens, just because you were HIV positive.  But I tell you; this is what is happening in Malawi.  And we who are Christians should love each other, and accept each other, even if we have HIV.”

Rev. Clarissa Holland, Pastor of the UMC in Green Village, emphasized the desperate conditions in Malawi, and how the orphan care and feeding center she visited a few years on a WorldHope Corps mission trip recently closed because they ran out of food and funds. She urged members and friends to literally ‘share their food with the hungry.’  

You can literally save lives by helping Dennis with his ministry to families affected by HIV/AIDS, to children without enough food to eat, and to villagers without clean water.  You can contribute online to or by sending a charitable gift to the following address:  

WorldHope Corps, Inc.
P.O. Box 295
Madison, NJ 07940

[1] CitiHope’s Food for Peace, funded by USAID, is a nutritional Dehydrated Vegetable Soup supplement distributed to HIV orphans and other vulnerable children and families in northern Malawi.

[2] Pastoral and Congregational Training Care Training (PACCT) recently received a $10,00 grant from the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund for their outstanding, church-based, HIV/AIDS training in rural villages.

[3] According to WHO, one out of five children die from water-borne diseases in villages where there is no clean water supply.   WorldHope Corps recently procured its own well rig to continue its village well program begun in 2008.   WorldHope Corps has drilled 18 deep-water wells so far, and seeks sponsors for its 2012 village well program.