Dear Koinonia Friends,
Early this summer as I was reading one of my all time favorite authors, Richard Rohr, I was so struck by all that he had to say in several of his meditations on “Cultivating Justice.” In one, he quotes Jack Jezreel as saying this about community:
“Community is the most neglected and probably the most difficult ingredient for us to hold to in the U.S. context. And for the most obvious reasons – we have come to worship at the altar of independence, individualism and autonomy. As much as there is a deep hunger for connection, common purpose and kindred hearts, there is a merciless, deep-rooted entrenchment in the forces of competition, freedom and self-rule … When I say community, I mean that which makes very intentional commitments…we must imagine what God’s peace and justice look like on this earth and we must begin the work of crafting structures, institutions, human realities that are the antithesis to division, hate, greed and scarcity, that anticipate and cultivate justice and goodness and peace.”
I say to this a resounding, “YES!!!” THIS is Koinonia of Columbia!! This is who we are trying to be and what we are trying to do, ALL by the GRACE of our loving GOD who plants the dream of “koinonia” deep within each of us to be lived out among us! If you are a parent, donor, staff member, volunteer, connected church family or friend of Koinonia of Columbia in any way, YOU are the DREAM being lived out! It is only TOGETHER that Koinonia is possible, so it is TOGETHER that we celebrate through this newsletter.
The gratitude that lives deep in our hearts after the experience of all that God did this summer and is doing can never be fully expressed here. I hope that you have experienced this same gratitude in whatever way you have been able to connect with us whether through visits, prayers, following us on Facebook, etc. (For great summaries and pictures of all 7 weeks of the Summer Enrichment Program, check out facebook.com/EauClaire2017.)
Richard Moore, our camp director, taught the children the condensed version of the Koinonia vision. How awesome it was to hear the children recite this together!
Anchored deep like a tree at a riverside…
Flying in formation together…
So that all may know community…
Friends of Koinonia, I’m excited to share with you the two ways in which this vision is being REALIZED!
(1) First, we really are flying in formation together! Koinonia envisions itself as a bridge between the children/families of Eau Claire – AND – those who wish to invest in these children’s/families’ lives. Beyond staff, donors and volunteers who have found their way to Koinonia and will be listed next, look at this flight formation of individuals and groups offering their BEST!
- Eau Claire Baptist Church – continues to offer their space completely free of charge to children in Eau Claire all summer
- Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of SC – committed to covenant grant partnership and tremendous support throughout summer
- Lenoir-Rhyne University – shared land for the community garden
- College Place United Methodist Church – funded garden irrigation system
- Jim Berry – designed and built 8 raised garden beds with the construction team of Rico Spry, Quintrell Wright, Braquan Brealon, Gary Berry, Michael Burton, Richard Moore and Dave Strum; installed irrigation system
- Frank Brasington & Verlington Concrete – donated a dump truck-load of topsoil for all 8 garden beds and donated for 2/3 of the camp food costs
- Rev. Merianna Harrelson & New Hope Christian Fellowship – pre and post-tests for reading; youth group led character education daily during Week 2; food and other donations
- Donna Johnson, recreational therapist – taught Week 3 of character education classes with the primary goal to help children identify their strengths
- Sharon Johnson, Lutheran Seminary, and LR yoga instructor – taught weekly yoga classes for our children
- Candace Chamberlain, Palmetto Health social worker – taught weekly health lessons
- Belmont Baptist Church – donated nearly all of our summer art supplies and projects
- Kathwood Baptist Church – donated seeds, gloves and garden tools to begin our community garden and lots of school supplies for children this fall
- The Anchorage: A Contemplative Ministry – committed to praying with and for us always
- Team JESUS – Christian rap artists who helped close out the summer with a concert and inspirational message
- Robert Mason – rising Julliard School of Performing Arts guest who shared an inspirational message
(2) Secondly, we believe ”so that all may know community” happens when it becomes indistinguishable as to who is giving and who is receiving. “All” includes you and me… the dream is that ALL of us will experience Beloved Community. Our camp director taught the children a song that exemplifies this perfectly…In part, the lyrics are ”I need you and you need me, so we can live in the love of community.” That is what I hear these individuals saying:
A Donor says:
“We are so excited to be able to help with the second year of Koinonia. May God continue to guide the program and uplift so many lives. Mohammed Ali once said, ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.’ Thanks for allowing us to pay a little rent!” (Barbara & Jim Berry)
“Children, I like to be in your presence because you are our future.” (Frieda Dortch)
“I adored all the kids. Thank you again for letting me be a part of this! It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I know you appreciated my help, too but that was nothing compared to what I got out of it.” (Jennifer Kofkee)
A grandmother and child say:
“(My grandson) Kyrhree wants a camp schedule so that they (him and his sisters) can do it at home. I thought that was awesome. You guys really made a great impact on them. They were thirsty and you guys filled them up. I so appreciate you.” (Renay Croft and Kyrhree Fleming)
An employee says:
“Thank you tremendously for the opportunity to work with Koinonia camp this summer. It was an awesome camp and an exciting summer! I learned so much about community…My future looks bright because of you! (Rev. Zina Diaz)
STAFF…WE THANK YOU!!