Charity is a beautiful thing. It exposes us to the needs of others. It causes us to reflect on our own blessings. It invites us to open our hearts to those who are struggling and stirs in us good intentions to help others. For the past four years, The CornerStone Initiative has hosted an annual conference where we invite attendees to consider where we can reflect on our efforts taken towards “helping” others and continue that journey towards deeper commitments that are necessary to bring about “lasting” change.
At our first conference in 2013, Beyond Relief, we looked at the differences between relief efforts (emergency support of a specific need) and long term development (seeking ways to avoid repeated emergencies). We had good, but hard conversations about discerning when “our helping was actually hurting” the poor in our community. Our search eventually led us to the issue of joblessness in our city and the need for sustainable, solid employment for those living at or below the poverty level. That realization became the theme for our 2014 conference, Good Work. Out of that conference, local Jobs for Life classes have sprung up all over the city and individuals are being prepared for “good work” through one class and one relationship at a time. Then, in 2015, we continued the conversation by discussing ways we can all move toward more collaboration at our Better Together Conference. What a gift it has been over the past year to partner with some amazing churches and non-profits from all over this city for the sake and benefit of those who are in need.
This year’s conference “Beyond Barriers” will continue the conversations that have been on-going since we began in 2013. However, we hope to dig in a bit deeper this year as we seek to move beyond simply identifying the problem, but toward providing tangible solutions. We want to tackle the fact that individuals, groups, and churches encounter multiple barriers when it comes to engaging in the long process of walking with someone from “poverty to plenty.” How do we move our volunteers beyond the “necessary and immediate relief” toward diagnosing and solving the problem? What are the barriers that keep us from forming relationships in many of the vulnerable communities right here in Madison County?
I would love to personally invite you to join me on February 21, 2017 as Tom Bassford introduces us to a level of sacrifice that shows itself willing to enter into the complexities of another person’s circumstances. He will discuss how to enter into a long term-commitment and without preconceived answers. We pray that we, as a community, can learn what it means to have not only a “heart” for the poor, but also a “mind” for the poor. The CornerStone team knows first-hand that this is not an easy task and is definitely not for the faint of heart. But, it is worth it!
Please, consider joining us on this journey as we seek to join hands and move “Beyond Barriers” for the sake of the Kingdom in this city. In Christ,
Debbi Akers, Executive Director