First let me say that probably all STM projects have some really cool, redeeming aspects and that ours clearly is not perfect. But I will say we have gone out of our way to work really hard to make it biblically based, wise, effective and community oriented.
We hosted about 80 folks from 5 different schools:
Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids MI
Judson University, Elgin, IL
Furman, Greenville, SC
Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, GA
Emory University, Atlanta, GA
The 3 southern schools came as a part of Reformed University Fellowship groups. . .
Here is what we did:
We spent nearly 20 hours in large and small group settings learning, talking, praying, thinking about themes related to our community. The history of the community. The cycle of poverty. Issues surrounding race and ethnicity. Understanding causes of and responses to the poor.
We spent a similar amount of time in various work projects. We built a fence (and rebuilt it as the neighbor kids tore some of the posts out the first night!) We hired a local artist to create 3 mural designs and the students did the painting. We nearly finished one, and got started on a second. They are awesome, beautiful, community affirming projects that will be mounted very publicly in our community. We made significant efforts to support Christ Bible Church in repairs in the food pantry, cleaning in the church and other things that the church helped identify as needed projects.
We continued work on a community mapping project in which we are using google maps to document the foreclosed buildings in our area. . . something that will allows us to work with local neighbors to stay on top of the huge numbers of buildings that are threatening the stability of various blocks. We started an ebay store!
We sent the students into different parts of the city, connecting with about a dozen different ways God is at work in the city. In short we cast vision for what it means to effectively understand, love and join God at work in the communities of the city.
Praise God for a great week. Thanks ya'll!!!