New $1.1 Million Grant to Help Support Samford’s Center for Worship and the Arts

New $1.1 Million Grant to Help Support Samford’s Center for Worship and the Arts

Education Extra

Animate is one of the programs at Samford University’s Center for the Worship and the Arts. The five-day worship leadership program is for teenagers and their adult mentors. Animate 2018 is June 25-29 and registration is open, www.samford.edu/go/animate

Samford University has received an additional $1.1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to further the work of the Center for Worship and the Arts. Housed in Samford’s School of the Arts, the center is advancing the conversation about teenage worshippers and teenage worship leaders.

The founding director of the Center for Worship and the Arts, Eric Mathis arrived at Samford in 2010. He holds a bachelor of music from Wheaton College, a master of music and master of divinity from Baylor University and George W. Truett Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. “We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for its support of our work and our mission as we equip congregations to build bridges between student ministry and worship ministry,” Mathis said.  “Through programs, research, and scholarship, we are creating a national platform for conversations about the relationship between youth ministry and worship ministry, and we believe this conversation is important for the church and the work of God in the world.” Founded as anima in 2013 with the help of a grant from the Christ Is Our Salvation (C.I.O.S.) Foundation, the program recently revised its name to the Center for Worship and the Arts. Animate, its flagship summer worship leadership program retains its current identity.

The center is celebrating its fifth anniversary and launching several new initiatives thanks to the additional grant, Mathis said. New program highlights are a Worship Leader Boot Camp for teenagers, allowing youth ministers and worship leaders to jump start their fall programming with teenage youth worship leaders; Student Worship Cohorts which will develop a deeper relationship with congregations participating in Animate; Student Worship Innovators which will engage church leaders in creating new resources for student worship; and new writing projects, including a book by Mathis under contract with Baker Academic Publishing. The center continues to provide online resources, an online certificate program with expanded goals and its summer program, Animate.

Other center team members include Tracy Hanrahan, Program Director; Kara Young, Coordinator of Promotion and Engagement; and three Faculty Fellows: Emily Andrews, Instructor of Church Music and Worship Leadership; Joe Cory, Associate Professor of Art; and Chuck Stokes, Associate Professor of Sociology. To learn more about the Center for the Worship and the Arts: cwa@samford.edu, 205-726-4525, @samfordcwa †

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It’s a Safari!

It’s a Safari!

Are We There Yet?

It’s fun for kids of all ages at “Live with Characters” February 24 at Gardendale First Baptist Church-North Campus. Learn more and buy tickets at www.justkeepsmiling.org

Your children or grandchildren are sure to smile and maybe burst into laughter as they meet their favorite Disney characters, Ninja Turtles, Star Wars characters and more- all while going on “Safari.” There will be two “Live with the Characters” shows, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., on February 24, 2018, each followed by a meet and greet, autograph signings and pictures with the stars of the show. The event at Gardendale First Baptist Church-North Campus is a major fundraiser for the local non-profit ministry, Just Keep Smiling (JKS, www.justkeepsmiling.org). “‘Live with the Characters’ is a favorite fund raiser of all of our volunteers,” explains Just Keep Smiling founder, Sue Jeffreys. “It is a time we come together to do God’s work, having so much fun, while making children smile and have the time of their life.” JKS was born from the experiences of three local women, Patrice Brooks, Debra Cook and Sue Jeffreys. All three women know what it is like to live with tragically losing children or having a child with a life-threatening illness. Thirteen years ago, they established JKS which seeks to assist families with critically ill children by providing financial aid for immediate needs, offering emotional support based on personal knowledge of a child’s serious illness or death, and sharing spiritual insight that conveys the solace, grace and strength found in God. JKS works with a network of social workers at area hospitals to identify families with such needs during their time of medical crisis with a child or children.

Purchase your $10 tickets to “Live with the Characters” at www.justkeepsmiling.org, at Jeff Dennis Jewelers or at the door. Special VIP tickets are available with reserved seating, souvenir and preshow autograph and pictures (limited to 50 tickets per show). If your company or organization is looking for an opportunity to help families in need, consider a $300 Character Sponsorship at “Live with the Characters.” Contact jbusby@justkeepsmiling.org for details.

Later this year, JKS will host a Golf Tournament at Greystone’s Legacy Course on June 28, the Annual Merry Market at Gardendale Civic Center October 19-20 and Auction & Appetizers’ at Regions Field Ballroom on November 6, 2018. †

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Taziki’s Keith Richards

Taziki’s Keith Richards

Jesus, Others and Yourself: Taziki’s Keith Richards

Keith Richards began his restaurant career cooking chicken in a K-Mart kitchen and waiting tables at Olive Garden. Today he serves as Chief Development Officer for Taziki’s, which he founded in 1998 with an original location off Highway 280 in Birmingham.

After a vacation to Greece in 1997, Keith Richards was inspired to recreate the same richness of community he experienced there in his home town of Birmingham. Opening his first Taziki’s restaurant in 1998 was a leap of faith quickly bolstered by the idea of giving back. Now with locations in 17 different states, Richards reflects on how his Christian upbringing contributed to his drive to succeed and his commitment to employing and inspiring special needs teens and young adults in the communities he serves.

Growing Up in Birmingham. An alumnus of Green Acres Elementary, Charles A. Brown Middle School, and Midfield High School, Richards grew up in Ensley and says his strongest memories of childhood involve being outdoors. “Back then, of course, we had no devices that would distract us,” he remembers. “We had an area called The Trails where we rode our bikes and shot BB guns and chased squirrels and went to the Boys and Girls Club. That’s all we did—that and play baseball. Church on Sundays. It’s almost like a country song.” Richards’ family attended Fairview United Methodist Church, and as far back as he can remember, every store in Ensley was closed for Sunday services. “Sunday was the Sabbath, and that was the day we went to Sunday School, went to what we called Big Church, and then at night we would have youth group.” Even on vacations, Richards says his family would find a place to worship.

In his teens, Richards worked at Camp Sumatanga, an experience that strengthened his faith and gave him a taste of servanthood and pointing others to God. “During those impressionable years—16, 17, 18 years old when some teens are starting to wonder—it grounded me even more.” His contributions to the spiritual growth of his campers, he says, was primarily directing them toward the Lord revealed in nature. “Scripture is so important, but my perspective was more of look what God has given us.

Keith and Amy Richards married twice in 1992—once at Peavine Falls at Oak Mountain State Park with a preacher but no paperwork, then again six months later at Canterbury United Methodist Church. They opened their first Taziki’s restaurant 20 years ago with the mission “to create an environment that combines extraordinary food with the meaningful human connection missing from much of society today — all to help people achieve a deeper, more sustaining form of happiness.”

Richards’ father, Joe Richards turned 79 this past November, and inside his birthday card Keith Richards wrote, “Thanks for being my hero.” “He’s the one I strive to be like, not only with his faith but with his heart, his goodness,” Richards says, noting that his mother passed away nearly six years ago. “We had a Bible School class at church growing up, and it was the J.O.Y. class. It stands for Jesus, Others and Yourself. That has always stuck with me. I saw my parents live that.”

Growing a Business. After jobs at a Kmart cafeteria and Olive Garden followed by a 10-year career at Bottega under award-winning Chef Frank Stitt, Richards and his wife used their home as collateral to build his first Taziki’s location off Highway 280. Richards reflects on how his parents’ example served as inspiration. “My father was a telephone lineman for South Central Bell / BellSouth, and I knew what hard work looked like. It was a leap of faith… We didn’t have the money. There wasn’t an option. We could not fail,” he recalls of Taziki’s beginnings. “Ultimately, however, the challenge was how do we start giving back? That was the first thing to do. How do we get into the community to let people know we are here and who we are? Faith has a lot to do with that. You pray for success; sometimes it doesn’t come, sometimes it does, but prayer and hard work is a great combination to reap rewards.”

Giving Back. Giving back for Richards started with a chance meeting with Shelby County Schools Job Coach Cindy Vinson while on a cruise vacation. Bored with the band playing one evening on the ship, on a whim Keith offered to stand in as a drummer. An experienced musician, while he jammed on stage, Amy Richards struck up a conversation with Vinson, who was sitting nearby. Vinson asked if Taziki’s would consider employment for students with special needs. The Richards said “Yes,” and since then Taziki’s has been helping local students and young adults with challenges realize their potential, earn a paycheck, relate to peers, and be a part of a team. Richards adds that meaningful employment also meant relief, in a way, for the students’ parents. “Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to the challenges that the parents of children with special needs have. Today, if I can allow that parent 12-15 hours a week to pray, yoga, tennis, whatever their passion is, then I’ll do it.”

“They say God works in mysterious ways,” Keith Richard says of he and wife Amy being the parents of two sets of twins, one conceived with the assistance of fertility specialists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and another conceived naturally. “I think it was just something that God said you’re doing something right in your life, and I’m going to bless you again.” Seen here are Keith, Amy, Oliver (15), Charley (13), Margaux (13), and Maggie (15). Photo: Bernard Troncale

The Richards and Vinson also began the H.O.P.E. (Herbs Offering Personal Enrichment) program in 2012, which purchases herbs for Taziki’s restaurants grown by special needs students at area schools. Being taught how to grow, harvest and sell cilantro, rosemary, thyme, parsley and rosemary gives the students opportunities to practice social skills, learn the value of money, set goals, and follow through with plans. Richards is expanding the program to include at-risk students as well and hopes that in 2018 the program will become a nonprofit organization. He hopes that all of his friends in the Birmingham restaurant business will consider following his lead in cooking with locally grown herbs. “God has blessed me, and I’ve said a thousand times you have to give back. That’s the plan. That’s God’s plan. And, of course, I don’t do it for extra wing points or any kind of halo points. I do it because that’s the way that my parents raised me.”

Richards suggests that choosing to make 2018 a year for giving can be simple. It doesn’t require finding needs to meet worldwide. “In our own backyard, there are people that are hungry, people that don’t know Christ, people that are struggling on a daily basis that we can help,” says Richards. “Find something dear to your heart…what makes your heart flourish?”

 

  • Camille Smith Platt 

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Resolve to Spend More Time Outdoors in 2018

Resolve to Spend More Time Outdoors in 2018

The Great Outdoors

presented by Mark’s Outdoors

The Christmas season has come and gone and now it’s New Year’s Resolution time. I encourage you to set goals for yourself and your family and hopefully make this year even better than the last. As a rule, New Year’s resolutions usually revolve around things like fitness. “Ok, this year I’ll remove all of the clothes hanging on the treadmill that I bought when I made last year’s resolution and promise to use it this year.” Or resolutions related to finance. “This year I will save a little extra cash out of each paycheck and finally taking that vacation I’ve been wanting to go on.” All of that is well and good but are we really taking full advantage of the New Year’s Resolution?

This year consider adding a resolution that involves getting outside and enjoying the great outdoors. Perhaps your outdoor resolution includes getting into or back into hunting. Good news! Your timing is great. You still have until the end of the month to enjoy hunting season and plenty of time to get ready for next fall.

Another great outdoor activity available this month is the annual Festival of the Cranes, January 13 – January 14, 2018. This two-day celebration of Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes brings together experienced birders and those who would like to learn more about birding and other wildlife that live in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur (www.friendsofwheelerrefuge.org). Over 12,000 Sandhill Cranes along with several pairs of Whooping Cranes spend the winter each year at the Refuge. Enjoy nature walks, live raptors and refuge tours. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring binoculars and a camera. Throughout the event, the enclosed Wildlife Observation Building will offer views of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, along with Whooping Cranes, ducks, geese, raptors, and maybe a bald eagle. There will be bleachers and spotting scopes available along with volunteers and staff members on hand to answer questions.

Need more outdoor ideas? Visit us at Mark’s Outdoors to become inspired and to be fully equipped to make the most of your time in God’s great outdoors. We will help make sure that you have everything you need to make your time outside that much more enjoyable. Happy New Year & God Bless!

– Mark’s Outdoors 

1400-B Montgomery Highway, Vestavia 35216

205-822- 2010, www.marksoutdoors.com

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What’s Your Word?

What’s Your Word?

Publisher’s Note

Have you ever picked a “word” for the year?

Last year my word was, REST. The word came to me in the form of a note of encouragement from my godmother. She slipped the verse, Psalm 91.1, in with a letter she sent me. I tucked the verse card away in my Bible and kept coming back to it. As I looked ahead at 2017, I thought. “It will be anything but RESTful with two seniors in high school applying to colleges and a business to run.” But I kept hearing that word REST and seeing that verse in multiple places. God seemed to be telling me, “REST in ME!” And every time fear would creep in, I would go back to that verse and REST in God’s promise. As I write this, my sons still wait to see where God will lead them in the next school year, but I REST in knowing God has the best in store.

With the start of 2018, I’m sensing my “word” for the year may be RENEWAL. What’s yours?

God’s Blessings in 2018!

-Laurie Stroud 

Founder, The Christian Family Publication, Inc.

www.BirminghamChristian.com

Facebook: Birmingham Christian Family

Twitter @cfpBirmingham

Instagram @cfpbirmingham

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 

Birmingham Christian Family JANUARY GIVE-AWAYS!

TO SAY THANK YOU for reading and supporting the businesses and organizations that advertise with us and make spreading Good News possible, we have great giveaways for you this month!

  1. Gift Certificate to Metro Diner- $25 Gift Card to Metro Diner, Inverness or Vestavia location!   Simply visit Facebook.com/BirminghamChristianFamily, LIKE/FOLLOW our Facebook page AND Share the Metro Diner give-away post to be entered to win! Offer Ends 1/22/18. Winner Announced on Facebook Wednesday, 1/24/2018!
  2. $50 Gift Card –Complete our Reader Survey for an opportunity to win one of two $50 Gift Cards. Takes just minutes to complete and will help us better serve you in spreading Good News! Complete at www.tinyurl.com/bhamcf Offer Ends 1/31/18.

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Photo Fun: Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic

Photo Fun: Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic

“Joy to the World”

Maggie Baldwin (front right) and Connor Cameron (back right) portray Mary and Joseph accompanied by angels Sam Niedermeier (front left) and Stella Ferlisi (back left) dressed in white in the Homewood Christmas Parade. The Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School students shared the Reason for the Season traveling on a brightly decorated float.

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Photo Fun with Daniel Cason

Photo Fun with Daniel Cason

Photo Fun 

“God’s Love in Action!”

Eye exams, haircuts, a delicious meal, and groceries were just a few of the ways Daniel Cason ministries recently helped those in need in our community. Learn more at www.danielcason.org .

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Best Books: Eric Motley

Best Books: Eric Motley

Madison Park

Author Eric Motley earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy from Samford University. As Special Assistant to President George W. Bush, he managed the appointment process in the White House for over 1,200 presidentially-appointed advisory board and commission positions. He currently serves as Exec. V.P. and Corporate Secretary of the Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit think tank. Author Photo: Tony Powell

Around 1880, a group of freed slaves purchased some land not far from Montgomery, Ala. Named after one of its founders, Madison Park became a refuge surrounded by the harsh realities of the deep South. Generations later, a young black man raised in this small town began a journey of faith. Mentored by his family, teachers, and the church, Eric Motley went to Samford University, where he thrived and matured in both grace and knowledge. He went to Scotland to continue his education and thereafter accepted a position in the White House, serving as the youngest special assistant to President George W. Bush.

Madison Park (Zondervan, $24.99) is Eric’s story, but it is also a tribute to the adoptive grandparents who raised him, to the teachers who nurtured him, and to the ministers who boldly proclaimed the word of God to the people of God. It is a tribute to professors and fellow students, politicians and businessmen, and to the many poets, musicians, and authors who, even after death, deeply influenced Eric’s life.

Madison Park is an expression of gratitude to God and His people. As a people of faith, we not only live in hope for what God will do, but also live in remembrance of what God has done. The Jewish observance of Passover and the Christian rite of Communion are calls to remembrance. We are not called to do this alone, but as a community, a holy people who collectively acknowledge our salvation history. We gather to tell our children and our children’s children that God has acted and we have been saved. By love, we become the beloved community. By faith, we become a great cloud of witnesses. By grace, we become Madison Park.

Darrel Holcombe, Owner
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster

205-663-2370

 

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Mommy & Me: Developing Creativity & Expression

Mommy & Me: Developing Creativity & Expression

Special Feature

Mommy & Me Ballet Classes begin January 18 at Briarwood Ballet located at Briarwood Church, 2200 Briarwood Way, 35243. Learn more and register at www.briarwood.org/balletclasses . Space is limited.

Toddlers – this one is for you! Grab your favorite adult and come dance! Create rhythms and movements and wonderful memories together!

That’s right, January 16, 2018, Briarwood Ballet kicks off its “Mommy & Me” eight-week class especially designed for children ages 18 to 36 months. “What a joy it is to teach toddlers to develop a love of movement and music!” explains teacher Meredith Dorough. “Our hope is that this early introduction will begin a lifelong appreciation for creativity and expression that will continue to develop for years to come.” Dorough brings a wealth of experience and excitement to this class. The mother of three grew up dancing with the Briarwood Ballet, was a member of the ballet’s performing group, Ballet Exaltation, and returned to be on staff in 2003. Since then, she has taught ballet to pre-school to high-school students and is the director of Briarwood’s performing group “Immanuel.”

Mommy & Me classes will be held every Tuesday from 9:15-10 a.m. at Briarwood Ballet/Briarwood Presbyterian Church, beginning January 16 through March 6.  “This class is such a fun experience for me and my tiny dancer!” exclaimed one mom. “I loved seeing the joy on my daughter’s face as she was introduced to dance in such a fun way!” The class registration fee is $130. Learn more and register at www.briarwood.org/balletclasses or call 205-776-5284. †

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