News

 

Dear Friends of Rockford Urban Ministries,

Your support is needed to give RUM the resources and moral strength to improve this community.

Rockford Urban Ministries speaks out on social justice issues.  We provide significant and provocative programs, from jail ministry to anti-gambling to praying for peace.  We will continue to seed worthy projects like JustGoods fair trade (which is now an anchor to the neighborhood). JustGoods fair trade store provides an astounding array of socially conscious products that create miracles in the lives of people halfway across the globe. Drop in this holiday season.

The Rockford Work Camps project, launched in 1992, attracted 380 volunteers this summer from around the nation.  They labored lovingly, sprinkled hope (and new porches and stairs!) and other badly needed repairs in 20 homes. The owners had serious health conditions, advanced age, and very limited financial resources to tackle the jobs.

The Work Camp costs were much higher than anticipated, because there was more work completed.

There were just too many requests for help with homes (making them safer, drier and warmer) and we overspent on the materials. The new Director Danice Loveridge is making changes for the summer of 2017!  But we need your help now, and ask you to increase your annual gift to Rockford Urban Ministries, so that RUM can continue to make wondrous things happen.

RUM does much more than just bricks and mortar. Your charitable gifts give voice to social justice and cover costs of the Work Camp program, finding the greatest need, procuring materials, equipment and volunteers.

Please be generous with your financial contribution to RUM. 

 

USE THE DONATE BUTTON OR MAIL A CHECK TO 201 SEVENTH STREET, ROCKFORD IL 61104.

Doubling your contribution doubles this good work, and the result is no less than miraculous.  It will help us make RUM’s own facilities even more energy efficient, and ensure more speakers and consciousness raising with the public.

 

On behalf of all who are helped by RUM, we thank you for your generous contributions. Over 70% of our support comes from you, our friends and member congregations.  Continue to bring God’s shalom to the city. Light a candle, say a prayer, and make more miracles happen with your annual gift. PREVIOUS NEWS ITEMS

The RUM annual dinner will be held Friday, June 19 at Court Street united Methodist Church (more information will follow).

Prior to his election to the Episcopacy, Jonathan served in the Northern Illinois Annual Conference (NIC) of the United Methodist Church. He was the Pastor of St. Luke U.M.C., Chicago (1970–79) and of Broadway U.M.C., Rockford, IL (1979 – September 1982).

He served as Associate Council Director of the NIC (October 1982 to 30 June 1990), where his responsibilities included Church and Society, Ethnic Minority Local Churches (Native American, Asian, Hispanic, and Black), and Spiritual formation. He was appointed Superintendent of the Aurora District of the NIC (1 July 1990 to 31 August 1996).

Upon his election, Bishop Keaton was assigned to the Ohio East Episcopal Area (1 September 1996 to 31 August 2004), and served the Michigan Area until 2012. He presently serves in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference (Central and Southern IL).

Bishop Keaton has served as a member of the U.M. General Board of Global Ministries, as the President of the U.M. Development Fund, and as the Chairperson of Strengthening the Black Church in the 21st Century. Prior to his election as a Bishop, he served on the U.M. General Council on Ministries (1988–96), the Advance Committee for Christ and His Church (1988–92), and the Division on Conferences and Connectional Issues of National Black Methodists for Church Renewal. He was elected to Jurisdictional and General Conferences 1988-96. He has traveled extensively in support of the U.M. Church, including Mexico, Africa, the Philippines, Europe, and Israel. He is much in demand as a Preacher at national leadership events, for Annual Conferences, as Commencement Speaker at colleges and seminaries, and in other settings.

Rockford Urban Ministries is proud to host Bishop Jonathan Keaton for their 53d annual dinner to be held Friday, June 19 at Court Street united Methodist Church.

 

Rockford Work Camps (RWC) Success!

2014 was one of the best summers for this program!

RUM’s Work Camps had a successful summer in 2014, thanks to you and the hard working staff: Pat Littlejohn, project manager, and Pamela True, project coordinator. Pat Littlejohn surveyed the projects recommended non-profit organizations, especially Jeremiah Development. Ten homes in that neighborhood received tender loving repairs, thanks to Pat’s leadership. Twelve other homes were worked on, most in the Seventh Street/Midtown neighborhood. This was a record 22 homes that received new paint, repairs for safety, warmth and keeping them dry. Landscaping was a chore as well. We hope to have more homes lined up for next summer’s work campers.

Pam True coordinated the volunteer crews with the calendar and assigned them to a church where they spent the week. Most of the crews arrived on a Sunday night and left the next Saturday morning, working four or five days. They had the run of the buildings; three sites were used: Court Street UMC, Second Congregational/First Presbyterian, and Emmanuel Lutheran. Next summer we hope to use two more sites: New Life UMC and Centennial on Broadway. We thank the YMCA for letting our volunteers use their showers.

Besides doing minor repairs on homes, the volunteers worked with 24 nonprofits and community organizations throughout the county. Every year we make an appeal for work. The nonprofit provides materials and supervision and RWC provides the volunteers. Next year we hope to have funds to help with materials and hire more supervision. The nonprofits RWC helped are listed below.

RWC had 13 week long work crews and 2 that only stayed for three days. Half worked in the  Coronado/Haskell neighborhood, where we partnered with Jeremiah Development.

22 Homes worked on: 

Jeremiah & RWCs                                          Other Homes

2 Homes on Rockton*                                    South 6th Street           Miriam Avenue

3 Homes on Woodlawn *                               Forest*                        Plaza Court

2 Homes on Hovey*                                       Valentine                     Pierce Street

2 Homes on Winnebago                                  John Street                  N. Rockton

1 Home on Maple                                           9th Street                      15th Avenue

Yonge Street               2nd Avenue

(* denotes homes RWC worked in previous summers)

24 Other Work Projects: Blackhawk Buddy House Community Garden/Tinker Swiss Cottage Garden; Youth Build;  Sharefest (with Heartland Church); Rockford New Hope; Bethesda Covenant Church; Shelter Care Ministries; JustGoods Fair Trade Marketplace; Milestone; Zion Development; OSF Cancer Center patient homes; Rockford Rescue Mission; Grounds for Life; Emmanuel Lutheran Church; Freeport Health Network; MidTown District; Project 10:13; Harlem UMC; Severson Dells; Jeremiah Gardens; Carpenters Place; Project Facelift; Boys & Girls Club; Lifescape/VNA patients.

 

This year we were blessed with 15 crews who had 426 total participants equaling an estimated 14,082 volunteer work hours. As you can see on the next page, they came for all across the United States.

This year RWC hosted a majority of volunteers from United Methodist congregations. RWC is also popular with Lutherans and the United Church of Christ. (We have not yet found the mother lode of Mennonites or Brethren.)

List of 2014 Crews

Howard UMC, Howard, KS

Hilltop Church of Mantua, Hiram, OH

Lord of Life, Maple Grove, MN*

Cherry Valley UMC, Cherry Valley, IL*

Sturgis UMC, Sturgis, MI

UMC Evanston, Evanston, IL

Park Church UCC, Toledo, OH

DeSoto UMC, DeSoto, KS

Lenexa UMC, Lenexa, KS

The PA Eastern Conference of the United Methodist Churches

Portage UMC, Portage, MI

First Methodist, Muskogee, OK

Broadway Christian Church, Columbia, MO

Calvary English Chapel, Wheeling, IL

Christ Lutheran, Belvidere, IL*

*Returning crews

RWC had 426 crew participants totaling an estimated 14,082 work hours.

Donations

The United Methodist Church Eastern Pennsylvania Conference not only sent the largest crew (84 members) but also donated $1,743 for materials and lumber, and built one of the four handicapped ramps. Lenexa UMC donated $500 and built a handicapped ramp for the Mission House of Emmanuel Lutheran. Portage UCC donated $420 ($10 per crew member) for a handicapped ramp they built on Second Avenue. Cherry Valley UMC, one of RUMs’ member congregations, again helped with a home that they suggested (they also donated a ladder for which we are grateful).

 People were generous and the work camps program broke even, and then some, so that we have a good base for next year. This is a $35,000 a year project, not counting insurance and management. I want to thank not only those congregations who sent volunteers, hosted our work camps, and found projects, but also those who made donations which keep RWC projects going. RWC spend over $16,000 for materials and $15,000 on staff. We thank you for your support!

Staff – Pat Littlejohn worked as Project Manager and Pamela True as Project Coordinator for 2014. We may need another assistant manager, especially if we continue to receive so many requests for help. Rockford Work Camps will also again hire two work crew assistant. We’d love to have people experienced in work camps, able to get along with a wide variety of volunteers, and pray for some carpentry skills.

Work Crews 2015

We already have two crews signed up for the 2015 summer, Grace UMC from Lake Bluff, IL, and a Lutheran church from Portage, Michigan. Thanks to Pamela True for compiling this information and Pat Littlejohn for checking it. I also thank Alex’s and Tom’s work as crew leaders. We pray for continued success

Contact info:

Rockfordworkcamps@gmail.com or RockfordUrbanMin@aol.com

Pam True, Rockford Work Camps (schedule): 815)315-3957

Stanley Campbell Rockford Urban Ministries: 815-964-7111

OLD NEWS:

Work Camps throughout the Summer of 2014

Eighty-seven (87) volunteers arrived this last Monday (July 14) for one week of donating their labor including simple repairs, building a handicap ramp and repairing a roof for homes in the low income neighborhoods of Rockford.

The volunteers are part of Rockford Urban Ministries’ Work Camp program, which this summer has invited fourteen Christian congregations from around the country to do good work for those in need. The volunteers stay at area churches, including Second Congregational/ First Presbyterian Church downtown.

Work comes from the Jeremiah Project, an outreach of five downtown churches who survey homes in need of simple repairs in the Coronado-Haskell neighborhood. The volunteers this week come from churches in the United Methodist Conference of eastern Pennsylvania.

Next week three separate volunteer church groups will arrive in Rockford on Monday and work through Friday.

KELSEY-POWELL-KEITH-2

Rev. Keith Kelsey Powell, elected as New Chairman of Rockford Urban Ministries

At the 52d annual business meeting of Rockford Urban Ministries Council, retired pastor the Rev. Keith Kelsey Powell was elected Chairman. He replaces the Reverend Enrique Gonzalez, who is leaving to serve in Wisconsin.

Rev. Kelsey Powell last served Court Street United Methodist Church here in Rockford, and retired in 2011 after serving 27 years in the denomination.

“My passion is urban ministry where,” says Pastor Keith “there is no shortage of opportunities to serve the last, the least, and the lost! I spent my entire ministry in small towns and urban settings, starting in Wyanet, Illinois, then in Chicago, University Park and now in a small city, Rockford, where I retired from Court Street United Methodist Church three years ago.”

During his time in Chicago, he served as President of the Annual Northern IL Conference, Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church.  As President, he encouraged the Conference to be engaged in “Communities of Shalom” trying to bring God’s Peace to the inner city. One of the principles is identifying hidden assets, utilizing them to transform communities which are only as strong as the individual is willing to invest. “We encourage people to advocate for the poor, and share their gifts and creativity.”

Creative minds are necessary in times of scarcity.  While serving in University Park, Illinois, he worked with the local United Way to make grants available to community organizations.

In Rockford, serving as Pastor of Court Street, Pastor Keith worked with three downtown Pastors who founded “Jeremiah Development.” He presently serves on the Rockford Interfaith Council and the board of ReachOut Jail Ministry.

“I’m most delighted to be joining Rockford Urban Ministries as Chairman in its second fifty years of illustrious service in advocating for justice, peace, unity and empowerment in our community.”

Rev. Keith Kelsey-Powell has also  been appointed as an interim pastor for the German Valley and Winnebago United Methodist Churches. Pastor Keith, as he prefers to be called is married to the Rev. Judith Kelsey-Powell and they are living in Rockford, Illinois. Pastors Keith and Judith have two adult children, a son Luke and a daughter Ana.

The following are the RUM officers:

 

2014-2015 Executive Committee

Chair Rev. Keith Kelsey Powell

Vice-Chair Coralee Hardwick

Secretary .. Pam Herriott
Treasurer … Lee Schreiner
   Rockford Dist. Superint. …  Lisa Kruse-Safford,

Executive Committee Members:

Rev. Dick Wang, retired
Rev. Don Long, retired

Nancy Houtz Spring Creek UCC
Rev. Ivan Schoen, Spring Creek UCC,

Rev. David Poust, First UMC Forreston,

Karen Fysh Rockton UMC

Rev. Christopher Druce Jones, Poplar Grove UMC

Rev. Brian Channel, Durand UMC

Rev. Matthew Johnson, Unitarian Universalist, Rockford

 

PAST EVENTS:

WHAT: a benefit for JFON (Justice for our Neighbors) to support the immigration attorney coming to Rockford.

WHEN:  Saturday, March 22, and will begin at 3:00 p.m. and go until 5:00 p.m.

WHERE: Court Street United Methodist Church,

215 N. Court Street.

WHO:  Battle of the Church Bands (and invited guests).

Over 20 musicians will share the stage in benefit for JFON!

The program is open to the public.

HOW MUCH: There is no set donation, but we will pass the basket. Proceeds will go directly to the Northern Illinois Conference JFON Program, in support of the monthly legal center.

To seek legal counsel, please call 815-408-0498 or email jfonrockford@gmail.com.

We are still welcoming musicians who can donate their time that afternoon.

SPONSORED BY: For more information, please call Rockford Urban Ministries at 815/964-7111, or mail contributions to JFON, c/o RUM, 201 7th St., Rockford IL 61104.

 

Helping International Refugees in Rockford 

WHO:              Presenters: Pat Winn, Director of Catholic Charities, and Janet                                                       Biljeskovic, Diocesan Immigration and Refugee Service Program

WHEN:                        Thursday, February 27, 7:00 p.m.

WHERE:           Brooke Road United Methodist Church, 1401 Brooke Rd., Rockford

Rockford Urban Ministries is hosting a program about “Helping International Refugees” on Thursday, February 27, 7:00 p.m., at Brooke Road United Methodist Church, 1404 Brooke Road, Rockford (please use the west parking lot and enter from the west door).

Pat Winn, director of Catholic Charities,  and Janet Biljeskovic, of the Diocesan Immigration and Refugee Services program, will discuss the process of bringing refugees into this country, how they choose who is welcome, and why they end up in Rockford. We will also learn how well the newcomers acclimate to this community and the services provided.

Rockford Catholic Charities has helped over 350 families a year, and there are at least 100 other diocesan offices in similar areas. They usually focus on the most vulnerable and include family members who are in harm’s way and cannot return to their homeland. Over twenty thousand refugees arrive in the U.S. each year. The most recent refugees include those from the Middle East, Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia, Sudan, Burundi and other parts of Africa, as well as the many unique groups of Burma.

This program is free and open to the public. For more information, please call Rockford Urban Ministries at 815-964-7111

WHAT:                        Sheriff Candidate Forum

WHEN:                        Saturday, March 1, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

WHERE:           Christ United Methodist, 4509 Highcrest (Please enter from south side, #6.)

George Hofstetter from the Rockford Reach Out Jail Ministry will begin this program with a discussion of mentoring the parolee. We will then introduce the candidates. We will allow three to four questions from the audience for each candidate, and have asked them to focus their talks on these specific questions:

  1. What would you do about the overcrowding of the jail?
  2. Do you believe in alternative sentencing and if so, what suggestions do you have?
  3. Do you approve of educational resources for the people in jail?
  4. How would you support the work of the Rockford Reach Out Jail Ministry and/or other jail programs?

They will spend five minutes introducing themselves and will speak about their views on the Winnebago County Jail.

 The following candidates for Winnebago County Sheriff have been invited: Randall Olson (D), Robert Redmond (D), Jeffrey Schroeder (D), Glenn Heidenreich (D), Robert Springer (D), Gary Caruana (R), and Frank Pobjecky (R).  So far Gary Caruana has said yes.

This program is free and open to the public. For more information, please call Rockford Urban Ministries at 815/964-7111.

Black History Month Sale Benefits RUM

WHERE:         JustGoods fair trade market, 201 Seventh St., Rockford

WHEN:          February, from 10 am – 6 pm,  Monday thru Saturday

Books, posters and political pins are for sale at Rockford Urban Ministries’ Black History Month sale. Most have a relationship to African American history, civil rights and social justice.

The most impressive (and expensive) include large original political cartoons from 1860s Harpers Weekly Magazine artist Thomas Nast.

Other items include a display of civil rights and abolitionist books, pins, posters and other materials at JustGoods Fair Trade Store, 201 Seventh Street, Rockford, all during February, from 10 am to 6 pm,  Monday thru Saturday. Call Stanley Campbell, director of RUM: 815-964-7111.

 

January 2014 News: The RUM Council welcomes Linda Roy who will help represent 2nd Congregational/1st Presbyterian – and we will miss Jane McAfee as she heads out west.

Carol Rude is the new lay rep from Christ the Carpenter UMC (she also helps deliver our mail!).
The RUM Executive Committee welcomes Rev. Brian Channel, pastor of Durand UMC. Brian has invited RUM Director Stanley Campbell to speak more often to his congregation than almost any other.
For a complete listing of lay and clergy members, please contact the office (or our website).
2014 Resolved:
Really, this year we will successfully add more names to the RUM email list, and save more postage/paper/trees. Please let me know if you receive a newsletter via mail, and only want the email.
If you do NOT want send us your email address if you wish to receive our emails INSTEAD OF this paper edition (you are more than welcome to continue receiving the paper and/or both email).
RUM will decide how to support prison and/or release ministry (see other side for latest program).
JustGoods will be debt free.
Rockford Work Camps will continue to grow, and to work closer with Jericho Project. Your help is appreciated!
Handmade Quilts at JustGoods’ gallery,    201 Seventh Street. Enjoy a display, and purchase quilts by Cecilia Mann, member of the Sinnissippi Quilt Guild. Four quilts will be donated to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Rockford Memorial Hospital. The display may be viewed during JustGoods store hours, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Don’t forget the free Friday night concerts at JustGoods
 
White Elephant gift exchange at JustGoods. Bring in your unwanted gift and exchange for someone else’s. Donate $5 per gift, or just pick up an item for a donation to RUM.
 
Also buy “Used Art” in the back room of JustGoods.This month a number of items concerning Martin Luther King. Thanks to all the donors. RUM will have another art sale in May.  
 
Free plants: Peg Francis dropped off some begonias and we are giving them away for free to a good home.
 
Help Benefit JFON
RUM is planning a Saturday afternoon concert (March 22) to help Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) pay for an attorney.
Do you have a musical group/individual that could help warm the stage (and the hearts) at Court Street United Methodist Church? Call Stanley at 815-964-7111.
If you have questions about Immigrant Rights, call to make an appointment with the attorney:  815-408-0498 or emailjfonrockford@gmail.com
Or call Mary English, JFON Rockford, Volunteer Coordinator, 815 397-4883, georgz@aol.com to volunteer.
 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.    –Hebrews 13:2 (NRVS)

 

RUM Annual Appeal has been mailed!

Please keep an eye open for RUM’s annual appeal, mailed with the October newsletter. Included in the mailing: an appeal for funds, a response “card and return envelope (please use), and an eight page newsletter with two pages of color!

To receive the newsletter, either send your address to RUM, 201 Seventh St., Rockford IL 61104 (with a donation would be appreciated), or send your email address to rockfordurbanmin@aol.com.

 

Jane is on the Air!

2nd Congregational/First Presbyterian’s lay rep to the RUM Council, Jane McAfee, was interviewed by our local public radio station about her memories of attending the 1963 March on Washington: http://northernpublicradio.org/post/she-was-there-memories-dr-kings-dream

 

Thanks for the help with our air conditioner:

People have been generous towards replacing the air conditioning unit at the JustGood’s Fair Trade Store, which burned out in the midst of our heat wave. The final cost was over $4200, and so far we have raised $3600.

Our new printer is installed, thanks to an anonymous donor; but the toner cartridges cost an average of $40 per cartridge. Any donations to cover our printing costs are appreciated as well.

Our intern Tyler Ward will be leaving us to return to North Central College. He will be studying abroad in John Wesley’s Canterbury, England. We wish him well and appreciate his time and energy.

 

Jail Reform
Rockford’s jail population averages 900 prisoners in the Winnebago County jail plus another 1,000 prisoners serving time in state penitentiaries. Christ calls us to at least visit the imprisoned, and the community should also welcome them upon their re-entry, but the Winnebago County area is poorly served and needs more volunteers and programs to help these citizens stay away from crime.
RUM hosted an October 3d program reviewing the various jail ministries and re-entry programs and will find ways our churches can help. There are individual volunteers who serve through the Reach-Out Jail Ministries programs. The director, George Hofstedter, is a friend and a mentor. We pray for resources for his ministry. George was one of the panelists that not only updated us on the latest work in Winnebago County but also previewed what plans help the returning citizen. We hope to invite a representative from Lutheran Social Services to speak about their state-wide program for returnees, most likely at our Dec. 14th Saturday morning workshop (see below).
The City of Rockford helps with resources through their RAVENS program. They will also be invited to the Dec. 14th workshop:
RUM’s Annual Peace Program will present a Saturday morning workshop on Prison Reform with John Maki, Dec. 14. He is the Executive Director of the John Howard Association of Illinois (JHA). In 2012, Governor Pat Quinn appointed John to the board of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. John is a lawyer and has represented wrongfully convicted people before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board in clemency proceedings. The workshop will go from 10am to noon, Saturday, December 14, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4848 Turner St., Rockford, and is free and open to the public. More info under “Events”