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2003 PE Report

Americans find comfort in ‘nesting,’ but connecting is another matter (December 22, 2002)

Viewer discretion advised: Reality-based programs stoop to new low (December 15, 2002)

A/G among fastest growing faith groups (December 8, 2002)

Christians play crucial role in foster care (November 24, 2002)

A/G churches remember with outreaches (November 17, 2002)

Elderly face added woes from credit card debt (November 10, 2002)

PE Kidz News from BGMC (October 27, 2002)

Cyber-evangelists find innovative ways to share gospel (October 20, 2002)

Risks, stigma accompany wearing of tattoos (October 13, 2002)

Women lead on-campus ministries (September 29, 2002)

Tobacco, alcohol, gambling industries find underage Internet client base (September 22, 2002)

Marijuana, cocaine have abusive company: Ecstasy, meth and prescription painkillers (September 15, 2002)

September 11: A day that changed American Christians forever (September 8, 2002)

Congress, courts clash over Internet filtering issue (August 25, 2002)

People with disabilities bless churches (August 18, 2002)

Short-term youth binges can result in long-term habit (August 11, 2002)

Christians aim to preserve traditional marriage (July 28, 2002)

Payback time: Christian volunteers motivated to give back to community (July 21, 2002)

Urban training centers minister
to ever-growing population
(July 14, 2002)

E-mail rumors dupe multitudes, hurt credibility (June 30, 2002)

Not so innocent: PG-13 films increasingly push sex, language limits (June 23, 2002)

Skipping church: Why are some Americans staying home on Sunday? (June 16, 2002)

Fudge fellowship: Pastor's wife treats tavern clientele (June 9, 2002)

Persevering nomadic church finally reaches promised land (May 26, 2002)

Tragedy brings A/G church, community closer to God (May 19, 2002)

Couples find God's calling in adopting, raising children (May 12, 2002)

A/G chaplain ministers to women in maximum-security prison (April 28, 2002)

Youth center offers alternative to teens (April 21, 2002)

A week without television (April 14, 2002)

Technological know-how aids San Jose church outreach (March 31, 2002)

Cincinnati racial reconciliation brings inner peace to inner city (March 24, 2002)

District's fund-raising efforts aid pastors planting churches (March 17, 2002)

GED program an effective ministry (March 10, 2002)

Building relationshipis at heart of women's ministries outreach (February 24, 2002)

Single-minded devotion: Unmarried ranks offer ministry opportunities (February 17, 2002)

Bethany College honors black minister pioneer (February 10, 2002)

A/G quarterback wins Unitas Award (January 27, 2002)

Camp Melody plants song of love in boys' hearts (January 20, 2002)

Pastor breaks giving record after 10 days atop billboard (January 13, 2002)

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Cincinnati racial reconciliation brings inner peace to inner city

(March 24, 2002)

A week before Cincinnati police shot and killed an African-American man last April, inciting riots, First Christian Assembly of God in the heart of the city already was addressing racial issues.

Integrating faith: Members of First Christian Assembly reflect diversity and unity.


Phyllis Shippy, an African-American woman, had started a Cultural Perspectives Sunday school class in the mostly white church. "I teach from Ephesians 5, which says we are all members of the body of Christ," Shippy says. "The object of the class is to discuss issues openly without hostility."

The class is one of several results after Pastor Chris Beard prayed for specific ways to reach the African-American community around his church, which has remained predominantly white despite cultural changes in the neighborhood.

"We wanted to reach people where they were and relate to them," he says.

Soon after Beard began praying, Pastor Ezra Maize, on staff at a nearby African-American church, called him and asked if the church was ready for its first African-American pastor.

Four days after the riots — with a curfew still in effect — the church board met and hired Maize.

Beard’s dedication to reaching African-Americans is real, according to Maize. "He has established relationships that allow him to say things in love that most whites couldn’t, such as speaking out against the riots," Maize says. "Most would have been too intimidated to say that. To him, right is right and wrong is wrong."

That boldness and intercultural relationship building began while Beard was an associate pastor at the church before becoming senior pastor last year. During the previous three years, Beard co-led a cross-cultural group from several churches interested in racial restoration.

As a result of those relationships, Beard and Maize know each other’s hearts. "Ezra has a unique gift with young people and ministering outside the church body," Beard says. "He is prominent in our schools and community."

Likewise, Maize says Beard is an encouragement and inspiration to him. "He preaches from the Word of God. He says things we all need to hear."

People of all racial backgrounds are joining First Christian Assembly because of that combination of leadership. Peter and Mandy DeGraff, a white couple who moved to Cincinnati from South Africa, settled on the church after visiting nine others.

"Coming from an apartheid system, we feel strongly about equality," Mandy says. "The people here at church seem to embody the heart of Christ. They look at the inside, not the outside."

Maria Jones and her husband, Larry, along with their four children ages 5 to 16, had been attending a majority African-American church before joining First Christian Assembly. "We need to learn to see Christ as He sees us," she says. "He doesn’t see color."

According to Maria, First Christian Assembly’s cooperation with other area churches is helping to improve the neighborhood. "We have done prayer walks and street ministry with other congregations and have seen people come to know Christ as their Savior as a result," she says. Racial healing will only happen in Cincinnati when people learn it’s OK to accept other cultures, she says.

Maize offers a different salve for racial wounds. "It’s not a racial problem," he says. "It’s a hurting problem. We have to deal with hurting people. When we recognize our differences and realize we are all in this together, the hurting will end and racial reconciliation will strengthen in Cincinnati."

— John Cockroft

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