Successful freelance writer, Mimi Greenwood Knight, explains how to put an article together after receiving a writing assignment. Mimi has authored magazine articles for national parenting magazines, such as Parents, Working Mother and American Baby. She has in 49 anthologies, including 29 Chicken Soup for the Soul. She currently writes editorials and advertorials for a regional lifestyle magazine in 160 markets in Texas. She has over 500 articles in print, including national and regional publications.
Successful freelance writer Mimi Greenwood Knight gives advice on getting published to the Southern Christian Writers Guild. Mimi has authored magazine articles for national parenting magazines, such as Parents, Working Mother and American Baby. She has in 49 anthologies, including 29 Chicken Soup for the Soul. She currently writes editorials and advertorials for a regional lifestyle magazine in 160 markets in Texas. She has over 500 articles in print, including national and regional publications.
Christine Collier, author of My New Life Now Curriculum for people seeking freedom from addictions talks about her call to ministry.
I recently met with Brigitte Murchison, the author of Living in the Realm…of Miracles and angel Encounters, at Barnes and Nobles to learn about the angelic interventions in her life. In the video she talks about her first experience with angels, why God gives her the experiences, and how angels helped her overcome the most traumatic experience in her life.
Rebecca Gernon reads from Amy Signs, her joint memoir with her daughter Amy Willman, at the Celebration of Words sponsored by the North Shore Literary Society and hosted by the Mandeville Barnes and Nobles.
Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) offers conference attendees’ opportunity to visit neighborhoods that are being transformed by the principles CCDA is founded upon. Friday morning, I stood in line at the pre-registration desk intent on purchasing a “Go and See” ticket.
“I’d like to buy a ticket to the St. Roch Workshop?”
“Sold out,” she said.
“Is there another ‘Go and See’ workshop available?”
The woman pointed to the display behind her. Every one of the workshop labels had “Sold Out” written across it in bright red. Mental note: If I ever attend another CCDA conference buy a “Go and See” ticket early.
I had found a suitable seat to film from in the Hyatt’s Celestin Ballroom, where the main sessions were held, and made a habit of arriving early lest someone take my seat. I walked into the morning plenary too late. Mary, a college professor of economics, was sitting in my coveted seat.
I sat next to her. “What brought you to the conference?”
“I love the ethnic diversity,” said Mary, “back home each has their own church: white, black, Asian, Hispanic. I like worshiping together.”
“How did you learn about CCDA?”
“I became involved when it was introduced at the college.” Her voice filled with irritation. “But I found a lot of resistance when I tried to include economics. The CCDA leaders at the college saw business as the evil oppressors.”
I decided against stirring the pot of frustration bubbling in Mary and changed the subject. “How do you define social justice?”
Mary paused to collect her thoughts. “There is a broad definition of what social justice is, so it depends on who you are talking to.” The plenary session began ending our conversation.
That afternoon I had a meeting with Charles Anderson. Several months ago, he read my book, Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot, and liked it, so he sent me a friend request on Facebook. On a Facebook update, I saw that his art had been accepted for CCDA’s Art Gallery. I sent Charles a message requesting to meet at the conference and talk about his art.
It is common to meet people who relocated to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a tragedy created by nature, but Charles was unique. A tragedy created by people prompted him to leave New Jersey and make New Orleans his home.
Charles had been an atheist all of his life when he saw a news report about a peace rally in New Orleans. A news clip of Rev. John Raphael, from the New Hope Baptist Church, gave Charles his first glimpse of God and became a turning point in his life. Rev. Raphael said, “We have come to declare that a city which could not be drowned in the waters of a storm will not be drowned in the blood of its citizens.”
Charles paused his story to reflect on that life defining moment. “That is something I had never seen before that was something other worldly. I thought, is that God. In that moment, I knew I was called to something greater. But it was years later before I became a Christian.
He attended church for the first time in his life at New Hope Baptist. Rev. Raphael preached the first sermon Charles had ever heard. At the conclusion of the service, Charles approached Rev. Raphael. “He was excited about me coming to town and encouraged,” said Charles. “He invited me back and often spoke about me in his sermons. That hooked me, this great man, charismatic, smart pastor of a large church really cared about my coming to New Orleans to help. The people were such great people, so nice to me. I felt wanted.”
Charles joined the Baptist church and founded United for Peace. His organization uses art, songs, stories, speeches and silence to create a sense of community. Every Tuesday they hold a moment of silence on Martin Luther King Boulevard to remember the lives snuffed out in violent acts. Afterwards, they offer support for the mothers of the victims.
Through his participation in community activism, Charles met Kevin Kieschnick, a practitioner of CCDA. Kevin invited Charles to attend CCDA’s Cincinnati Conference. While at the conference Charles met the woman, he would later marry. Their initial attraction to one another was on the subject of being vegetarians. The conversations about diet quickly evolved to discussions about CCDA and Christianity. Her Christian example led Charles to embrace Christianity.
As we walked to the Art Gallery, Charles told me about a youth meeting being held that evening that wasn’t listed in the program book. I recorded the time and place. Then filmed Charles talking about his art. He is the first to speak on the video at the bottom of the page.
Jolly Oatis of 3D Music Group was in the middle of his testimony when I arrived at the youth meeting. He spoke about the duplicity in his life. As a teenager, he attended Bible Studies but did not practice the principles taught. Basketball was his life. He’d rather be on the court shooting hoops than eating. Eventually, the seed planted at the Bible Studies bore fruit. He realized his prowess on the Basketball court, which filled him with pride and made him popular with the ladies, was a major hindrance to the growth of his spiritual walk. He quit Basketball to pursue God and plans to be a Pastor.
I gathered from comments made during the youth meeting that the small group of teenagers were in training to become CCDA leaders in their community. The future leaders introduced themselves by name, age, state and favorite food. One young man said his favorite food is dead animals. Incredulous looks were met with the explanation “any kind of meat”.
After the introductions Jolly clarified any misconceptions about the meaning of 3D. “It doesn’t mean 3 dimensional or 3 dudes. It is a reference to the 3 days Jesus lay in the grave. His brother Jeremy joined him, and they performed How can I Forget, written by the Oatis brothers. The song questions how we can forget all God has done for us.
A question and answer session followed. “Are they on ITunes?” “How did they start rapping together?” “Was it hard to quit sports?” The subject of giving up other activities became a discussion. One gave up acting and soccer. Another quit a band he had played in for five years. The session concluded with wise words from the moderator. “You don’t have to give up your extracurricular activities unless they have become a hindrance in your spiritual growth.”
When the pizza arrived, I departed for the evening plenary sessions. Pastor Robert Burnside spoke about his unconditional love for his community. Since he has been actively serving and praying for his community murders in his neighborhood have stopped, and the crime rate decreased dramatically. He was followed by the entertaining Father Greg Boyle, an American Jesuit priest and founder and Director of Homeboy Industries. Homeboy Industries is the largest gang intervention, rehab and re-entry program in the United States. He counted it a privilege to work with gang members, who taught him how to text. He has learned the meaning of lol: laugh out loud, omg: O My God, and a recent new addition ohn: Oh Hell No, which he uses frequently! lol, omg that’s one I can use tooJ Father Greg took pleasure in the fact that rival gang members who use to shoot bullets at each other now shoot text messages. He spoke eloquently about serving others, and the sadness of burying 193 gang members.
I stayed late for Open Mic Night attended mostly by young people. An hour of dance, rap and poetry later, I returned to my room to download my camera. By 2 am, I had filled up the 32 gig flash drive I planned to give to the event coordinator of CCDA. I should have bought a flash drive with more gigs. Tomorrow, the last day of the conference, had a full schedule of plenary sessions and workshops that lasted until late in the evening.
Conference’s usually have keynote speakers. The premier speaker that draws the largest crowd is given prime time. Other speakers are treated like fillers until “THE” main attraction arrives to conclude the day with his or her message and then sends the well fed sheep on their way chewing on a cud of wisdom.
I found CCDA had a more evenhanded approach. All of the speakers were treated with value and relevance. No one dominated the evening sessions open to the public, and on most nights two people shared the stage. Unlike some conferences dominated by white men donned with expensive suits trailing PHD’s behind them, the evening speakers were a rich mixture of male, female, white, African American, Hispanic and Asian.
Many in the mixture of speakers were laden with degrees as well. Take the dramatic license I took regarding white men as experience not sarcasm. When God needed an Apostle to the Gentiles, he chose the highly educated Saul of Tarsus. The difference in my experience at CCDA is their acknowledgment that you don’t need a college degree to be an effective leader.
Whenever I attend a Christian event, I look for consensus to determine who has God’s message. God establishes what we need to know in the mouth of two or three (2 Corinthians 13:1). When God told Mary she would bear the Messiah, he confirmed it numerous times by various people saying the same thing, e.g. Zacharias and Elisabeth, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, men bearing gifts for the king of the Jews. God put everything he wanted us to know in the Bible, which contains the witness of sixty-six people from various professions who lived in different generations yet spoke the same message. If the Bible was written by one person, I doubt we could trust its message.
Therefore, when I hear the same message more than one time coming from different people I know it’s important. The message given at the conference by God, the premier keynote speaker, was imparted through the mouth of a female pastor and confirmed the following morning by a male pastor. Rev. Laura Sumner Truax, senior pastor at LaSalle Street Church, a non-denominational church in downtown Chicago, addressed the importance of the Sabbath. The next morning, Dr. Wayne L. Gordon, the founding Pastor of Lawndale Community Church and Chairman/President of the Christian Community Development Association addressed the importance of the Sabbath.
I have preserved a portion of their message in the video, audio only. It was impossible to obtain a usable copy in the evening session. The video is full of shadowy figures looking for friends and seats, going to the bathroom and other reasons that remain a mystery. It is possible this theme was repeated by other speakers in session I did not attend. Attending CCDA conference is like going to Disney World you will never see it all. But one thing is certain. God wants us to rest.