- Created on 31 March 2013
The "Get Financially Fit" seminar moves to the most famous church in Atlanta – Ebenezer Baptist Church – on Saturday, April 6.
One of the topics will be home buying, as the market heats up and millions of dollars are available to help purchase homes in Atlanta. In addition, experts will lead a deep dive into credit scores and student loans, as well as provide an overview of retirement planning.
To underscore the importance of attending, the first 30 adults who register and complete the course for the first time will receive a $25 gift certificate. Breakfast and lunch will be served and child care will be provided.
The event is free and comes at the beginning of national Financial Literacy Month. The church is located at 407 Auburn Avenue. The session will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m.
Registration is strongly encouraged; however, walk-ins are welcome. Register at www.concernedblackclergy.org or by telephoning 404-755-4900.
"We're thrilled to have Ebenezer host this life-improving event," said Concerned Black Clergy President Rev. Frank Brown. "These workshops, in partnership with Wells Fargo, have already helped hundreds of people get pointed in the right financial direction. We can't wait to help more."
- Created on 29 March 2013
The calling came with a blessing. They’d have gone anywhere in the world, but Otterburne Theological Seminary in Niverville, Manitoba (now Providence College and Theological Seminary) worked for Henry and Choice Idonije because it sponsored missionaries and their families. Henry preached, read and studied his way to his Masters in Theology and, before long, theirs was a full-time labor of love. Missionaries in the truest sense of the word, the Idonijes started a charity that fed the hungry known as “Street Love.”
Their oldest son, Israel, remembers how when hungry worshipers arrived at their door in Brandon (now the second-largest city in Manitoba, Canada), Henry would retreat to the pantry to give them whatever they had, often their last.
And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted soul;
then shall thy light rise in obscurity
and thy darkness be as the noon day …
“I always wondered about that my entire life,” says Israel, a 10-year veteran of the Chicago Bears. “We’d have a turkey or a chicken in the freezer, and people just showed up in need. They were on welfare. They didn’t have a lot but they were committed to doing the work of God. And all the work they did, they were blessed through their children.”
Were they ever.
Over the course of his 10-year NFL career, Idonije has made a living on Sundays terrorizing the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Robert Griffin III. With 7.5 sacks and 70-plus recorded tackles in 2012, he’s reportedly drawn interest from the Titans, 49ers, Cowboys and Giants. There are more years behind him than in front.
It’s why one day in 2008 he walked into his bank and decided to take a chance on an idea: In 2009, Idonije purchased what he describes as an impossibly ineffective machine that manufactured small communion cups. He formed Blessed Communion, a venture that sells dual-chambered, pre-filled communion cups and wafers. For churches and spiritual organizations that commemorate the New Testament tradition of The Last Supper, it is a sanitary and efficient option. The company is on track for projected sales of 40 million units this year. Arriving at that point is a lesson in trial and error and some hard, necessary business decisions.
“I’m a dreamer, when I first saw it I thought, where can we go from this?” he says. “I saw an opportunity to do something bigger. The previous owners [of the machine] were happy with where they were. And that’s where I saw an opportunity.”
Challenges, risks and an unsure payoff
Blessed Communion currently has three large customers — a national church supply store, a national bookstore chain, and an online retailer with national distribution. It also has a few private smaller churches as customers. In 2013, Blessed Communion will be introduced to dozens of groups including the Coalition of African American Pastors, mission trip coordinators, military bases and Christian-based media.
Israel consulted a California-based company to help produce a 100 percent Concord juice blend, and a wafer that melts without leaving an aftertaste.
Blessed Communion also offers a juice only product for churches not ready to transfer over to the prepackaged product. It also offers unfilled communion cups. Ten people work in the 10,000 square-foot factory in Chicago. Blessed Communion’s goal is to double growth by 2014.
The company’s ambition and accomplishment is a lesson in patience.
“I’m not a manufacturer by trade, not even a businessman.”
There was a lot of work to do. The juice in the cups, they soon found, went bad in four months. It was churning out crushed, deformed cups with holes in them. Eventually, it became apparent that considerable resources were going to be needed to get Blessed Communion to operate efficiently. The machine was completely rebuilt. It fills each cup, places each wafer on tops and pressure tests it. The product then gets sent to a third -party tester to verify the product is clear of bacteria.
To Israel, the venture combined innovation, global appeal and a positive impact on the community and their clients.
“It’s very important to Israel that all of his ambitions, business pursuits and humanitarian efforts be aligned to a purpose,” says Kelley Speck, who oversees Idonije’s business endeavors. “He seeks opportunities that are innovative, have a global application and reflect his core beliefs. He believes everyone, regardless of their circumstance, has the ability to do something to make the world a better place, and he continually strives to do his part.”
A life of service, a career in perspective
For Israel anyway, it was nothing out of the ordinary.
Football camp for youth near Chicago. Nearly 250 campers. His foundation supplied all the food.
It only sticks out to him because, the person who helped facilitate the sponsorship got a call from a former NFL player who was no longer in the league.
“He was asking, you know, if there was an opportunity to get some revenue,” Idonije says. “She said unfortunately, here was a person who while they were playing didn’t take advantage of all the opportunities. When they’re done then they’re looking for opportunities, but unfortunately when you’re done you’re done.”
“There’s going to be another No. 71 and he’s going to be the guy that people want to connect with and meet. They’re going to still want to connect with me, but my appeal is no longer going to be the same.”
Now that he’s in the midst of the twilight of his career, his exposure in the community and performance on the field is about to pay off. This is a man whether he stays in Chicago or not, he has made an impact; but if Brian Urlacher is no longer a Bear, then aren’t all bets off?
“I’d love to end my career as a Bear, but you understand it’s a business. Sometimes those visions between players and the organizations don’t always align. But to spend 10 years in Chicago has been an unparalleled experience.”
Bears General Manager Phil Emery told reporters the Bears want to have him back.
“He’s done a number of good things and had a number of good games both outside and inside,” Emery said. “He’s a guy we will sit down with and talk to about coming back. So, he’s got versatility. That is a positive thing. He has done a good job for us.”
And his parents?
“They’re in Canada, and this is the second year they’re retired. I pushed them towards relaxing because my success in the NFL and the money that comes along with that I have that platform. That’s their blessing. They’re set for life.”
Some of his competitive drive has come out in being the best in business.
“For us there isn’t any competition, we’re just looking to better the product. There are similar products, but they’re not at our standard. We’re just focused on continuing to be the leader in this space, gain market share and implement our game plan for this business.”
Five years ago, Israel began preparing and planning for his transition out of professional sports. It was part of a higher calling, one he learned from the family that raised him.
- Created on 24 March 2013
Members of two historic Atlanta churches in the path of a proposed new NFL stadium are considering their options.
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church is in the middle of the favored site for the Atlanta Falcons' new home, just south of the Georgia Dome.
Friendship Baptist Church is just across Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, which would have to be rerouted through the church's property to make way for the new stadium.
Both congregations now face the weighty decision on whether to sell out to make way for a new stadium -- and if so for how much.
"There's no exact details yet on a proposal," Lloyd Hawk, who chairs Friendship's board, said at a recent service. "And when we do, we will bring to the congregation a vote to decide. We are a Baptist church, and at a Baptist church all decisions go to the congregation."
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Blank both say they prefer the site near the churches, which would keep the stadium about as close as the Dome is to MARTA and CNN Center. But they're holding an option for a site about a half-mile north if negotiations with the churches fail.
The churches have storied histories in the city. The late Mayor Maynard Jackson's father once preached at Friendship Baptist, a congregation whose history dates to the early days of the American Civil War. Morehouse College housed classes in the congregation in 1879 and Spelman began in the church's basement two years later.
Mt. Vernon, which began as a storefront church in 1915, moved several times before landing at the property near the Georgia Dome, including a 1955 move because of road expansion.
The negotiations are ongoing as other details of the stadium agreement crystallize. Georgia World Congress Center officials are invited to speak at Mt. Vernon on March 26. And city officials have already met several times with Friendship's leaders to start hashing out a deal.
"I'm confident we'll get something done," said Reed.
- Created on 29 March 2013
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta will offer the opening prayer and carry the cross from the first station to the second at the 33rd Annual Good Friday Pilgrimage on Friday.
Bishop Robert C. Wright of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta will offer a reflection on Jesus taking up His cross and our call to work towards abolishing unjust laws and policies at the second station.
The pilgrimage will begin at 9 a.m. at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, located at 48 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, S.W., in downtown Atlanta and conclude at approximately 12:30 p.m. at the King Center, located at 413 Auburn Ave.
There will be a short break after the seventh station at the Loudermilk Center.
At the conclusion of the event, there will be transportation from the King Center area back to the starting point. Participants are encouraged to carpool or use public transportation as parking is limited. The two-mile route is considered wheelchair accessible, but not all of the sidewalks along the route are smooth or wide.
"We are very excited to host this annual event," said Kat Doyle, director of Justice & Peace Ministries at the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta. "It is a unique opportunity to bring together people of all faith traditions and increase the awareness of the social justice issues that exist in our world today, while together we pray for understanding and seek change."
The Annual Good Friday Pilgrimage, a multilingual walking prayer, is a moving experience that includes scripture readings, reflections, prayer and music that reflect on today's social justice issues as they connect to the sufferings Christ endured in His passion and death.
- Created on 20 March 2013
The Zion Hill Baptist Church family and friends invite guests to the church's annual multi-faceted Resurrection Celebration.
Festivities will begin with the Good Friday Service on Friday, March 29, at 7:00 p.m. Several Morehouse students will serve as guest preachers for the evening, focusing on the topic "objects of the crucifixion."
The largest event is expected to be the celebration of the resurrection on Easter Sunday, March 31. Easter Sunrise Service will begin at 7:00 a.m., followed by the Easter Program at 9:00 a.m., themed "Arise, He is King."
The Zion Hill Youth and Children will be featured with recitations of verse, liturgical dance, and melodious singing. At 10:30 a.m., the regular morning Worship Service will commence. Pastor Aaron L. Parker will preach a Resurrection Day message for both worship services. All events will be held at the church.
Zion Hill Baptist Church is a multi-generational congregation with a variety of targeted, age appropriate ministries and programs. For more information about the church's Easter celebration, weekly worship experiences, or ongoing learning and service opportunities at Zion Hill Baptist Church, please call the church office at (404) 691-8025 or visit us on the web at www.zionhill.org.
Zion Hill is located at 6175 Campbellton Road, Atlanta, GA. Reverend Dr. Aaron L. Parker serves as pastor.