Advent Calendars Are Here!

doug week 1 fifthHello! On behalf of the St Roch Artist Residency, I hope this email finds you well.

For the first time last year, the St Roch Artist Residency in New Orleans produced an Advent Calendar of sorts — a devotional guide through the season comprised of 30 individual cards (one for each day of Advent, plus an introduction and conclusion) featuring original art by former artists-in-residence (and artists who consider themselves friends of the residency), as well as daily readings, scriptures or hymns. The collection is gathered around 4 weekly themes: lament, repentance, hope, and celebration. We are so proud of this effort — the images are excellent, the thoughts are meaningful and concise, and the format creative and flexible.

Due to the significant appreciation which overran our modest first edition, we have re-released this calendar for Advent 2015! Last year the proceeds went to support the revitalization of our space and a push to expand our programming. Because of the the generous support of our network of friends and donors the fruit of last year’s fallow, preparatory season has been exciting. For the first time as a residency, we have the immense of privilege of hosting two artists concurrently and have rededicated our time, attention, and programming to their work and welcome. Their presence in our midst is a blessing as we eagerly continue our efforts to provide generous time, space, and community as a context for artists to focus on and establish the excellence of their work and the sustainability of their practice.

All proceeds from the advent calendars go to support these artists. If you are interested in obtaining an advent calendar ($12 includes the calendar and shipping) please let me know and I’ll get you the info you need so that we can get a calendar in the mail to you before Advent starts on November 29! And, if you have a copy, enjoyed it, and think a friend of yours might be interested in purchasing one and supporting us, please just forward them this email and my name!

Thanks for your time and interest! We hope your holiday season is meaningful and blessed.

Sincerely,

Anne C. Nelson

Click below to purchase your Advent Calendar.  Limited quantities available.

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Easter Egg Hunt

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Our annual Easter Egg Hunt will be happening this Saturday at St. Roch Park.   Lunch will be served, with activities for the kids and Easter Basket raffles!!!

Make sure to come out and meet your neighbors and have a good time!

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Help us Feed Neighbors and Keep Lights On.

ImageCan you join with us to help our neighbors avoid going hungry, keep there lights on and truly have a merry Christmas? Donate now!

The common rationale for not giving a beggar on the corner money is based off of our concerns of what will happen with the money we give. Will they drink it away?  Will they get high with it?  When it comes to helping people with physical needs, we at St. Roch Community Church are very intentional about avoiding help that hurts. Many of our efforts favor development over relief so we have financial literacy programs, jobs training courses and a Christmas store instead of a food pantry, toy give aways or the like.

In our sophistication of helping the materially poor, however, we can actually run the risk of missing a vital aspect of the Christian life; mercy.   We have had numerous requests in the last week for assistance with utility bills, food and rent assistance. When a request comes we administer a questionnaire to determine if the person requesting aid has family who can help, assist them with creating a plan to not allow the need to repeat and give assistance with creating a budget.  We find that poor money management  often lead to the financial pickle in which most people find themselves. There are other factors like a slum landlord who refuses to fix leaky plumbing, causing the water bill to soar.  The loss of a job, incarceration, addiction, mental illness, domestic abuse, low-paying jobs, rising cost of living and more are contributors to the unfavorable and even dire situations some of our neighbors find themselves.

ImageIn the beatitudes Jesus said “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” A few chapters over in Matthew 25 Jesus teaches that our acts of mercy to the hungry, homeless, naked and imprisoned are directly tied our faith in Christ.  We are saved by grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone but an outward evidence that an inward transformation has occurred is specifically tied to how we care for those on the margin, the powerless, the widow, stranger, orphan, etc.

The beautiful thing about the Gospel is that none of us are worthy of God’s love nor can we scheme or work to earn it but it is strictly His mercy and extravagant love that bridges the gap and returns us to Him. The apostle Paul reminds the Corinthians of this when he tells them “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” When it comes to mercy though, we can be condescending and paternalistic towards the poor, forgetting about the mercy that has been extended to us.

Would you consider partnering with us so that together we can be extensions of God’s mercy? You can donate online, mail in a donation (1738 St. Roch Ave. New Orleans, LA 70117, write “mercy” on the for line) send a Walmart gift card or drop off groceries. When I think about “making the season” bright for my family I think about what gifts I can buy but for many families in our neighborhood just having food in the refrigerator, having running water and keeping the lights on will be what literally brightens the season.  Join us, as we join Christ, in being merciful.

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Prayer Requests & Praises

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • People in our community are struggling with mental illness. Pray for them & for us as we walk alongside them. 
  • Pray for us as we mourn the loss of our neighborhood leader, Reggie Lawson.  He was an amazing advocate & role model who God used in mighty ways.  
  • Pray for neighbors to come to know Christ and follow Him. 

Please join us in thanking God for the following:

  • Pastor J.B. and Stephanie are expecting their 3rd baby in April. 
  • We helped host the national Christian Community Development conference with 3,000 plus people from around the country and world who are doing a similar work. The conference was a hugs success. 

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Lives Transformed on The Van Ride Home

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In my 12 years of urban ministry experience, some of the greatest ministry has happened in the car ride home.  Tears, confession, laughter, accountability, hope, fear and more have been common themes.

Recently I’ve listened to the confessions of a gang member on the ride home from Bible study and our jobs training course.  His story is not for the faint at heart.  There are many wounds but God is at work in amazing ways and is using the simplicity of a car ride to create a safe environment to start healing.

We have reached a place in ministry where we really need a ministry van. We’re trying to steer clear of the 15 passenger vans due to safety and insurance costs but are hoping to acquire a minibus or minivan to be able to transport people to and from church, Bible study, summer camp, after-school program, field trips and more.

Do you have a good reliable vehicle that you could donate? We are aiming to either raise $20,000 to buy something or are praying that God will provide one through an in-kind donation.  Can you help?  Contact me, Ben McLeish, at 504.940.5771 or ben@strochcc.org today.

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The Provision of Leadership by Pastor J.B. Watkins

ImageTo all the saints in Christ Jesus…with the overseers and deacons…(Phil. 1:1) 

When one thinks of leadership, many things could come to mind. For example, leadership implies such traits as influence, vision, strength, and courage just to name a few.  And while leadership could be defined in a wide variety ways, one thing is certainly clear, leadership is by all means necessary and needed. This is just as true for the church as it is for any functional organization. 

Since the inception of St. Roch Community Church, leadership development has played a major role in our vision and mission.  For six and a half years, leadership is something we have prayed for, sought after, and worked toward with great expectation.  As a result the Lord has provided abundantly in this area of need; thus giving us occasion to rejoice. 

This past year, we were favored by God in the ordaining of our first two elders  in April as well as our first deacon in October.  With the establishing of such leadership, St. Roch has been equipped with a team of leaders responsible for the welfare of the church. It is through this leadership team that we expect the Lord to shepherd his flock while caring for the souls and needs of the local body. In addition to such responsibilities, we are grateful that God has raised up leaders who are willing and able to put their faith and life on public display. It is  through such that the saints will have multiple examples to follow in their striving to be like the Savior. In this we give God praise.

To conclude, just as Christ, and the apostle Paul after him, we too believe in the necessity of raising up local godly leaders that will in turn contribute to the furthering of God’s kingdom here on earth. And while the Lord has provided for us over the course of this past year, we continue to look forward to the establishment of future leaders both ordained and lay. As such, we invite you to pray with us along these lines while rejoicing over those that God has currently provided.

“To God be the glory for the great things he has done!”

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Jobs, Finances, Start-ups

ImageWhen we launched the church nearly 7 years ago, we also formed a 501(c)3 community development corporation called St. Roch CDC (www.StRochCDC.org). St. Roch CDC is a Christian organization which partners with local churches and other like-minded organizations to empower individuals and revitalize the St. Roch neighborhood and similar under-resourced New Orleans communities. We offer Christ-centered programs and services to help meet the physical, spiritual, economic and cultural needs of individuals and families.

Our vision is to see individuals empowered to change their lives, families and community. Our mission is to serve as a catalyst to help lift people out of material and asset poverty and wholistically restore our community. We do this by:

  • equipping individuals & families for success with their personal finances
  • providing soft skill jobs training to help people obtain gainful employment
  • empowering entrepreneurs to launch or grow small business enterprises
  • connecting people to allies who will champion their efforts
  • developing affordable housing
  • building family, community and cultural assets
  • advocating for justice and equity in our community

We are particularly excited about our current efforts to launch Restoration Thrift store.  Through the spring of 2014 we are collecting items to launch our store in the summer of 2014.  Once up, Restoration Thrift will provide jobs for those who have had challenges entering the work force, create a diversified funding stream to support current initiatives, provide an excellent and affordable shopping experience for customers and give  opportunities for people to give back through in-kind donations and volunteer service. Additionally it is our aim that we will be able to provide financial support to St. Roch Community Church as well as other partner organizations that are bringing restoration to neighborhoods throughout New Orleans. To support St. Roch CDC or provide items for Restoration Thrift please contact Ben McLeish at ben@StRochCDC.org or 504.564.7739.

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Member Spotlight: Nika Carter

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We met Nika early in the process of planting the church, when she was a high school student struggling to get a solid footing. Soon after we met her she announced that she was pregnant with her daughter.  The path ahead didn’t look promising.  But God showed up in a mighty way.  

Because of God’s grace and Nika’s hard work, today Nika is a Godly mother, has internalized the Gospel and longs to see her community transformed. This fall she transition from being a children’s ministry intern to now serving as the director and under her leadership things have accelerated.  Our after-school program is at capacity and her work with teaching the kids Bible verses is amazing. 

Nika commented, “I like working with kids and teaching them responsibility and fun. I love pouring into their lives in a positive way and creating new ideas for things they can participate in.”

Beyond the task of coordinating children’s ministry actives, the after-school program and our summer day camp, Nika is a full-time college student, sings in the praise team and is raising her daughter.  

The future of our neighborhood is much brighter with Nika helping to mold and shape kids in our neighborhood with the love and truth of the Gospel. 

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Van Conversation- Van needed.

In my 12 years of urban ministry experience, some of the greatest ministry has happened in the car ride home.  Tears, confession, laughter, accountability, hope, fear and more have been common themes.  Recently I’ve listened to the confessions of a gang member on the ride home from Bible study and our jobs training course.  His story is not for the faint at heart.  There are many wounds and points of trauma but God is at work in amazing ways and is using the simplicity of a car ride to create a safe environment to start healing.

We have reached a place in ministry where we really need a ministry van.  We’re trying to steer clear of the 15 passenger vans due to safety and insurance costs but are hoping to acquire a minivan or suburban to be able to transport people to and from church, Bible study, summer camp, after-school program, field trips and more.

Do you have a good reliable vehicle that you could donate? We are aiming to either raise $10,000 to buy something or prayerful that God will provide one through an in-kind donation.  Can you help?  Contact Ben McLeish at 504.940.5771 or ben@strochcc.org today.

Potential options:

  • Honda, Toyota, Dodge, Chevy, Nissan mini van.
  • Dodge Sprinter
  • Chevy Suburban
  • Commercial church van that doesn’t require a CDL license
  • Telluride to Montrose Ground Transportation 2009-dodge-sprinter-passenger-van-interior-photo-319977-s-1280x7822009-honda-odyssey-interiorhonda-odyssey-seats-9mwuxetx

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Help Inner-city Kids Have an Awesome Summer!

image002It’s hard to believe summer is just around the corner.  At St. Roch that means a significant uptick in the investment we will be making in the lives of inner-city children. The summers here are full of fun and faith and give kids an amazing opportunity to grow in their relationship with Christ and development lasting relationships with each other along with our summer interns who are also from the community.

_DSC0841Over the 5 weeks of our camp, the 30+ kids will be going through what it means to live out the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. This will happen through Bible studies, games, the arts and more.  Also, as in previous years, kids will get to experience the amazing culture and natural resources of southern Louisiana with Friday field trips.

This year camp is going to cost us a little more because we will not be participating in the summer feeding program the city offers.  We found the meals to be rather unacceptable (lots of highly processed foods) and were often late.  In light of this we are excited to provide nutritional meals that will help counter pervasive issues of childhood obesity & diabetes due to poor food options. For some kids, this is the only real meal they are getting each day during the summer.

_DSC0011Our camp budget is $15,000.  This covers the cost of things such as art supplies, field trips, 5 neighborhood interns, food and more.  We are thankful for your support of our ministry and ask that you would prayerfully give a financial gift for our summer programming that you would deem significant.  

_DSC0861After 5 years of summer camp, it’s very exciting to see the difference that is being made in the lives of children from our community.  Kids are growing in their faith and several of their parents are participating in the life of the church. While we are thankful that we can provide an alternative to kids other than growing up under the tutelage of the streets, we are even more thankful that they get to grow in their love and knowledge of Christ Jesus.  The impact this will have both now and eternally is immeasurable.  It is a part of helping to restore God’s shalom where nothing is missing and nothing is broken.

Again thanks for your partnership in the Gospel and care for children.

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