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Showing posts from 2012

2012 Malawi Projects Near Completion

Friends of WorldHope Corps,

We need your help next week to complete our 2012 mission pledges and projects in Malawi:

1.  The new sanctuary of Mzuzu United Methodist Churchwill be dedicated on Sunday, Jan 13.

2.  The grand opening of the new Hope House(for educational support) occurs on Saturday, Jan. 12.

3.  Five of the ten new Village Wells we drilled in 2012 will be celebrated with villagers.

4.  The Mzuzu Shalom Zone Committee will assemble for training and planning.

You can participate by adding your name to the list of sponsors who have supported these community development projects this year, at whatever level you are able to do!

$250 pays for church furniture in the new sanctuary or furnishings in the new vocational training wing.

$500 pays for a young person to go to Vocational or Secondary School in Mzuzu for a year.

$10,500 pays for a new deep water village well for several thousand villagers

$100 pays for more chickens and pigs in the Mzuzu Shalom Zone economic developme…

Laird-Christensen Christmas Letter 2012

From our House to Yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Laird-Christensens:


PREDICTION: On December 21, 2012, when the Long Count calendar ends, a rare Galactic alignment of the Sun and the Milky Way will take place. This only happens once every 26,000 years.
FACT: On the solstice of December 21, 2012, the Sun, as seen from the Earth, will be crossing the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy near its center. This type of alignment of the path of the Sun with the plane of our Galaxy takes place every year; thus, it is not very special.

The alignment of the Sun with our Galaxy on the December solstice happens more rarely. This more rare alignment occurs during a 400 consecutive year period, and within every precession cycle of 25,772 years. This is thus somewhat more special. This image shows a planetarium view of the sky illustrating the Sun’s position on December 21, 2012, the date of the solstice. The image reflects what the sky will look like at noon on that day, at the latitude of Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, México. At midday, the Sun will be high in the sky, and proj…

Hope Tailoring School update

Rev Michael
Attached are photos for the economic empowerment classes at Hope Tailoring School hosted by Mzuzu United Methodist Church.

The first three photos depict mastering of Task No 1, Task No 2 and Task No 3 of the new class 2012/2013.  This will be the fourth such class to come through the program we began in 2008.

The fourth picture is of some of the second year students of  our Business Management class which takes exams with the Board in England.
When time allows me I will send pictures for First year students of Business Management and the High School students who received Hope Scholarships.


Rev. Copeland Nkhata.
Mzuzu United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 1015
Mzuzu, Malawi.
cell +265 884 006 432


Green Village UMC and Malawi

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 …

At work today in the Henri Nouwen Archives

The Henri J. M. NouwenArchives &  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)
Books by Henri Nouwen on Amazon

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…
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

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 “t…

Drew University Honors Shalom Community Leader at Commencement 2012

Wilbert Mitchell, founding executive director of Respond Incorporated in North Camden, NJ, was awarded an honorary doctorate at Commencement in recognition of his 45 years of exemplary and visionary leadership in non profit management and community development. It was my honor and privilege to present Mr. Mitchell, deliver the citation, and confer the degree in behalf of the Board of Trustees of Drew University on Saturday, May 12, 2012
Official Citation: For the last 45 years, in the community where you live and work, you have helped local residents help themselves, by identifying local assets, mobilizing community resources, organizing for the common good, improving individual lives, as well as transforming your neighborhood of North Camden, NJ. In your 4.5 decades of nonprofit management, as the first and only executive director of Respond Incorporated, you have stayed true to your original purpose of responding to the needs and developing the potential of underserved citizens in Camde…

President Obama on Gay Marriage and Golden Rule

For those who support marriage equality, today marks a moral milestone for monogamous, same-gender-loving all-but married couples.  POTUS base his view on the Golden Rule that Jesus taught:

Transcript: Good Morning America interview today on ABC News:
I have to tell you, as I said, I’ve been going through an evolution on this issue. I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally...

And, I hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient.That that was something that would give people hospital visitation rights and other elements that we take for granted. And I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth.  

But I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamo…

On this very day...20 years ago

Today marks the 20th Anniversary Weekend of Communities of Shalom
Shalom on Facebook

UMCOM TV interview with Michael Christensen
This Very Day--Sunday, April 29—is the 20th Anniversary of Shalom!
Friends of Shalom are here in Tampa for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church. 
This afternoon, from 5-6, in the Big Tent (across the street from the Convention Center) hosted by the Methodist Federation for Social Action, friends of shalom will gather to sing, testify, pray, and tell stories of shalom work in their communities.
Bishop Joseph Sprague (Instigator of Shalom in 1992 and still active in the Greater Hilltop Shalom Zone in Columbus, Ohio) will offer inspiration followed by anointing with oil for the difficult work ahead. 
On Sunday night during the 7pm celebration of ministry service in the Convention Center, Communities of Shalom will present its Report to GC and show the new video “Shalom is still on the loose!”
Watch it live at the General Conference Live .

Origins of Shalom

On this 20th Anniversary Day for Communities of Shalom, I asked Bishop Joseph Sprague, Instigator of Communities of Shalom, to reflect on the origins of Shalom on April 29, 1992--the day of the social uprising in Los Angeles after the non-guility verdict for the officers who beat motorist Rodney King and the response of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church to create the first "shalom zone" in south central LA. 
Origins of Communities of Shalom (1992) By Bishop C. Joseph Sprague on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Shalom Initiative at General Conference, April 29, 2012
There was a certain irony about how I got to General Conference in 1992.  As a pastor from West Ohio, I had been elected as a delegate at two prior General Conferences. However, this time Good News and IRD targeted me to not get elected, apparently because of some of my social justice stands.  Consequently, I was the last clergy delegate elected and seated.  As luck or Providence wo…

Seeking Shalom in Tampa this week

Our Shalom Team is in Tampa joining forces with other peace and justice ministries of the United Methodist Church in seeking the shalom of the city where we have been sent (Jeremiah 29:7). If you are in Tampa at General Conference, let me know. I plan to blog, tweet and link this week during the 20th Anniversary of Drew ShalomMinistry With the Poor - Media Explore what is going on in other communities and United Methodist churches around the world and share your stories about your ministries and/or ministry with the poor.

Why I attended OWS Spring Training

Call to Action:  99% Spring Training
With the goal of training 100,000 people this Spring in community organizing and non-violent direct action, the 99% Spring coalition hopes to gather a critical mass of people power to “draw a line in the sand and say ‘No More!” to the corporations and wealthy power brokers who collectively have hijacked our democracy.

Given last year’s Supreme Court decision granting corporations and superpacs legal provisions to spend unlimited money to influence the political process, I personally agree that its time to demand a “separation of Corporation and State.”  (See my earlier posts on OWS   for why I have supported this original and primary goal of Occupy)
A broad-base coalition of national organizations (initiated by Occupy Wall Street and invited community activists to today’s training session in various cities across the country. Several friends and supporters of Communities of Shalom registered for trainings in Harlem, Morristown, Oakland…