Monday, December 27, 2010

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Sun Ministries' missionaries and volunteers embraced the Christmas season with an attitude of service. We participated in Alderman Freeman Bosley, Sr.'s Hyde Park Christmas Party on December 17, helping them obtain turkeys, set up and tear down the party, and being available throughout the night where ever needed. In addition, we handed out some handmade and donated scarves, hats, and gloves to the kids. The party is held for some of the poorest in the Third Ward, and many toys and bikes were given away.

A week later, we assisted the Alderman in bagging up groceries for Christmas dinners for needy families. We feel (and find to be true) that part of pastoring a community and uniting people is being available to serve wherever needed, as well as coming alongside those already serving. This way we get to know the community top to bottom, inside and out.

We have also been greatly blessed by successful sales of our latest product, the Coffee Bag Christmas Stocking. Hopefully you were lucky enough to receive one Christmas morning.

We end the year with much anticipation for the next, looking forward to many new projects. We will start expermenting with new products in January; we will continue to pursue our plans for urban gardening, and further develop ways we can empower people in the community.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pastoring the Community

It was one year ago this month that The Helbling family gave us the gift of the building that has become the Opportunity Center. As we enter into our second year I see the vision for the Isaiah 61 Initiative coming to life. The first 5 months of last year were spent working on the building that was so generously donated to us. We finally opened it in May of 2010. This building is just a building but became the base of operations for pastoring the community.

Our vision has always been to engage the community on many different levels of restoration and to Minister God’s grace to each individual we meet. Many doors have been opened for us and we are starting to see how each one provides a way for another aspect of a vital community to be restored. It hard to grasp that so much has been laid before us in such a short period of time.

We see each of these opportunities addressing a need in the community that can be captured in one word. When each part is working together the whole community is being restored.

Preserve – Board-Up Hyde Park – This project helps to preserve the historic buildings in the neighborhood as we work with groups to provide plywood, paint, decorate and board up vacant city owned property that the city has no budget to preserve. Keeping the weather out of these buildings is essential to preserving them until such a time as they can be restored.

Inspire – The Bremen Theater – We have taken on a task that is way beyond our means. This old 700-seat theater sits on the edge of the main park in the area. It has been vacant for decades. We are working with Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr. to begin stabilizing the building and organize a restoration effort. We stepped out in faith to take on the task and in a few short months we have had several groups participate in the project. Architecture for Humanity has recently finished a set of plans for the project. Groups from St. Charles Missouri and Tulsa Oklahoma have helped us remove trash and debris from the interior. One day we hope to see a community theater develop in this place that will cultivate the arts and provide an opportunity for the talent of Hyde Park to thrive.

Challenge – Sports - Last year we did a free baseball league for the kids of the neighborhood. Restoring the ball field at Windsor Park was part of that project. This year we will once again play ball. Last summer we offered free Tae Kwon Do for the neighborhood. Through sports kids of all ages and economic standing will have the chance to be challenged both personally and as a part of a team.

Provide – Gardening - This year we will take on a project of Urban Gardening. The City of St. Louis allows residents to lease vacant property for the purpose of gardening. The lease is $1.00 per year. We will begin to train people to garden and provide assistance in getting started. The produce will provide nutritious food for the families and the excess will be sold at local farmer’s markets for extra income.

Empower – The Opportunity Center – A training and empowerment place to bring assistance for job creation and small business development. We continue to develop products and establish vendor partners that will help us to train people how to develop small businesses and cottage industries in the area. We have the space and equipment to train in woodworking, sewing, and jewelry making. Through our other projects we will be able to train in construction and agriculture as well.

Rebuild – Rebuilding Houses – One of the primary goals if the Isaiah 61 Initiative is to relocate Missionaries to the inner cities of America. As we enter into 2011 we hope to begin relocating our first group of trained missionaries to the Hyde Park Neighborhood. Through the process of relocating missionaries we will also restore the vacant housing in the area.

Restore – The Narrow Gate – The Narrow Gate Project provides space with a family for someone to enter into a long-term process of rehabilitation. The Narrow Gate Hosts are trained to engage people with serious spiritual or addiction issues. They take the person(s) into their home or an adjacent home and walk with them through a planned process of restoration that addresses the issues that have them bound. The goal of the Narrow Gate is to fulfill what Isaiah 61 instructs.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins,
They will raise up the former devastations;
And they will repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.

When we take someone into our homes through the Narrow Gate it is for the purpose of restoration and freedom. The goal is to minister to the whole person and to restore them spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially. The goal of the Narrow Gate is to take those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and restore them to a place of being whole homeowners.

Revive – Missionaries – In order to bring new life to the area we wish to bring new lives into the area. We are seeking people who hear the call of God to go and repair the inner cities of America. We will train you, make a plan for your ministry, and help facilitate your plan. This may include job assistance and housing help. If you grasp the concept of Pastoring the Community then we want to hear from you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday Product Showcase

We are excited to invite you to our first ever Holiday Product Showcase! We will be offering our usual fantastic products plus a few special holiday items and everything will be on SALE!

Please join us on November 18th for an open house at:
Crossroads Art Studio, 501 North Kingshighway St. Charles Mo 63301 @ 6:30 pm

Monday, November 1, 2010

Historic Bremen Theater Restoration

Sun Ministries is partnering with a not-for-profit organization formed by Alderman Freeman Bosley, Sr. to clean out and restore the historic Bremen Theater. The theater has been abandoned for several years and is falling apart. We’ve had two work groups help our missionaries and volunteers remove three dumpsters full of debris from the building. Dustin and Lacey from Refuge Church in St. Charles are coming back with their youth group for their second round of clean up on November 7. We are excited to bring assistance and awareness to this project in order to restore and rebuild North St. Louis.

If you or your group are interested in helping in this ongoing effort, leave a comment or email Mark Goodwin at

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Christmas is Coming!

Here are some of the products offered through the Opportunity Center's sewing center. Each one is a unique creation and no two are exactly alike. They are available at several locations throughout the St. Louis area. See our web site for dealer locations.

These products and many others from our Opportunity Center will be on display and available for purchase at the Missouri Botanical Gardens on November 13 + 14 during their Green Weekend. Come by and see the selection upstairs in the main entry to the Gardens.

Coffee Bag Products

Totes and Messenger Bags and Coffee Bag Christmas Stockings

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Training Classes Begin!

The Opportunity Center began training classes this month. Our staff and volunteers are training people from the Hyde Park area in wood working, jewelry and sewing. Some of the class members are trying to learn a craft that will allow them to earn some extra income. Three class members so far have decided to develop a business plan and attempt to turn their new skills into a small business.

The Opportunity Center also acts as a small business incubator where these new skills, products and ideas can be cultivated and grown into businesses that will provide jobs for the area residents.

If you would like to support this work you can donate online at We are also in need of fabric for the sewing center, sewing machines (any age working or not), jewlery making materials, and a variety of woodworking tools and equipment. We can arrange for pick up of your donations in the St. Louis metro area.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hyde Park Festival

Come down to Hyde Park this weekend and enjoy the 8th annual Hyde Park Festival. There is free music throughout the weekend. There will be free health screenings, informational booths, a flea market, food and fun for the whole family.

Take I-70 to Salisbury and head west 2 blocks to Hyde Park. Hours are 10 - 6 Saturday and 11 - 6 Sunday.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Cumberland Gap Band

Friday October 1st the Cumberland Gap Band will be playing a benefit concert for Sun Ministries. Tickets must be purchased in advance and can be purchase online through our web site. To learn more please visit

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Opportunity Center Progresses

We obtained our occupancy permit for the Opportunity Center in April. Here we are only 2 full months later and our product line is taking shape. We are producing the following items through the help of volunteers. We currently produce Coffee Bean Jewelry, Coffee Bag Totes and Messenger Bags, Coffee Bag Wall Art, and Deck Chairs in painted pine and Teak-oiled Mahogany. Here is a picture of the new mahogany chair.

We are also adding dealers for our items as the St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri Botanical Gardens have both agreed to display our products. Starting in July we will begin employing two missionaries on a part time basis. Things are developing rapidly and we hope to start relocating people this summer and beginning the process of recruiting more missionaries by this fall.

Through a partnership with Connections to Success we now have the use of a ServeSafe certified commercial kitchen. This will allow us to develop food products for distribution in the local area. The samples are being prepared this weekend and we hope to have our first products ready for distribution in July. This addition will help us to develop opportunity in a broader context.

Our first business is in the incubation process as one of our missionaries is developing a business concept that we hope to help him launch this summer. The Opportunity Center does not intend to become a large employer but rather to be a catalyst for economic opportunity and training for job skills.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Progressing along the path ...

It has been a very busy spring. Here is the latest update.

Baseball is in full swing when it doesn't rain.

Guitar lessons start this weekend if the kids stay out of trouble.

Tae Kwon Do starts the first week of June.

We display our products at the Gateway Center in Collinsville Illinois this weekend. We publicly launch our Coffee Bean Jewelry at this event.

We begin working on the restoration of the Bremen Theater with an informational meeting Wednesday May 26th at the Urban Studio Cafe.

48 Volunteers from Tulsa Oklahoma arrive June 9 for 3 days of work.

We now need to secure some housing for our missionaries and begin the relocation process.

I love it when a plan comes together!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Play Ball!!

The park had been neglected. Earlier this year the parks department removed the backstop and fence around what used to be a baseball diamond. "No kids play there anymore" I was told. Thanks to Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr. and Charles Lunsford a new backstop and fence have been put up. On April 10 we gathered there with 18 kids from the area and the free Hyde Park neighborhood baseball league was born. A week later we gathered again with a sod cutter to reclaim the infield!

The sod was removed and placed on a vacant city lot across the street.

This weekend 25 kids showed up to play America's sport. The dirt is exposed. The backstop is up. The equipment was donated. The volunteer coaches were ready. This weekend will be the first game on the new field the kids helped us to build. That farmer in Iowa once said if you build it they will come. He was right. Satruday at 2pm you will once again hear those famous words at Windsor Park on the corner of Blair and Angelica in Hyde Park - Play Ball!

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Lost Battle

What we hoped would be the future home of the Opportunity Center's Coffee and Ice Cream Shop in Hyde Park, lost it's battle with the elements last week.

The building now has lost the back wall and the front is held up by bracing. The estimate for repair had risen by 15% prior to the collapse. It appears we may have to look for another suitable property for this phase of our efforts.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Work Turns from Removing Debris to Repair

Our work on the new home of Sun Ministries turned to repair this week. After weeks of cleaning and removing equipment and debris, we were able to get our inspections and start the process of obtaining an occupancy permit. We were pleased by the outcome of the inspections. No surprises were revealed and all of the needed repairs were minor in scope. We started by painting window frames and trim because we were blessed with a sunny and warm spring day this week.

This is a picture of the building before the work. and here is a picture after the paint.

We still need to paint the upper windows do some tuckpointing and replace the guttering. After that the work moves inside.

Our thanks to Jason Calahan who worked off the 40 foot ladder for the first time. A special thanks to Roger Garrett for letting us borrow his ladder.

In a great display of teamwork, Mark Goodwin and Ralph Bradshaw tackled the windows on the alley side of the building. Mark worked up high and Ralph got the lower sections.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Where to Buy the Isaiah 61 Initiative Products

Here is a current list of retailers for our new products.

Picasso's Coffee Shop 101 N. Main St. St. Charles Mo. 63301
Offering the Coffee Bag Totes and Messenger Bags

The Urban Studio Cafe 2815 N. 14th Street St. Louis Mo. 63107
Offering the Coffee Bag Totes, Messenger Bags, and Deck Chairs

Plank Road Pottery 906 South Main Street St. Charles, Mo 63301
Offering the Deck Chairs

Check our web site for an updated list of retailers. New ones are being added each week.

Isaiah 61 Web Site

Saturday, February 6, 2010

New Product from the Isaiah 61 Initiative

Products with purpose! We are now making coffee bag totes and messenger bags as a part of our efforts to bring jobs to the inner city. These are quality bags at very reasonable prices. Each bag has a unique design that varies by where the coffee originates. There is something for everyone. I will update soon on where you can go to buy these in the St. Louis area.