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Presenting Serve the City Globally

Jerry McCarty is an International Ambassador for Serve the City. He leads small teams of volunteers to cities in the Interested Life Stage to help them move to the Starting Stage.  This fall, Jerry and Scott Furushima traveled throughout Asia and South America representing STC in the countries of Japan, Indonesia, The Philippines, and Ecuador.

Many cities throughout Asia have been expressing interest and excitement in starting Serve the City.  The United Body of Christ Church in Quezon City, Philippines has been serving families and children in need for years through education, meals, and art.  Upon hearing the vision of STC to gather volunteers from every walk of life to serve throughout the city, they organized training meetings so volunteers from around the city can be mobilized to not just know people by their needs, but know them by name!

In Guayaquil, Ecuador, the team shared the heart and vision of Serve the City at the Transform World International Leadership Summit. They were invited to share how STC combats the challenge of urban poverty around the world by building a serving community—a community where people are not just being served, but invited to serve together towards a vision of city transformation!

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Serve the City International Forum in Berlin!

STC Berlin hosted this year’s International Forum on 26-29 October, and it was our biggest Forum yet.  While many of the STC cities across the world meet regionally and nationally together, the IF each year is the premier gathering of people in our movement world-wide.  IF17 Berlin saw around 95 people gather from across the STCi movement, including many EU countries, Nepal, Mexico and USA. Those attending the IF are either actively involved in leading their STC volunteer-movement or interested/starting an expression of STC in their local city.

“This [IF] is like a family”, said Greet (STC Maastricht).  The IF is where our movement connects relationally and talks shop. We listen to one another, learn, and encourage each other. Experts are invited to share on specific topics that build capacity across the STCi movement, like excellence in volunteer management.

With STCi becoming a formal legally constituted International Non-Governmental Organisation on 1 September, 2016, three new Affiliated Memberships were conferred during IF17. The national STC entities of Belgium, Ireland and Portugal have been a part of the movement from the early days in Brussels (2005). “This Affiliated Membership celebrates and reflects the reality and commitment in the hearts and minds for many years – now we are formally recognising their membership of STCi”, said Alan McElwee, STC IRL Founder/Director and Chair of the Board of Directors with STCi. “STCi membership is inclusive and open to eligible entities as either Affiliated or Associate Memberships” commented Alan.

STC Dublin has been asked to host the IF18, which will be held on 18-21 October, 2018.  They have accepted, and commit to maintaining the high standard of excellence set by Berlin this year.  For some videos from this exciting weekend, filled with both professional substance and fun, see the links below:

Thu Welcome dinner
Fri plenary sessions and workshops
Sat plenary sessions and workshops

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To Be Continued…

At our 2016 International Forum in Amsterdam we resolved to be better story tellers.  In less than 3 weeks we will be assembling again this year in Berlin, where we will be bringing our stories to share with one another.  At our recent online All City meeting last month we got a small preview with some stories such as these:

Dave in Newport News told us about a new relationship blossoming between a project leader and a disabled man and his wife in a difficult neighborhood whose home he helped repair and adapt.
– We weren’t just making a house safe, we were developing a safe relationship.

Marie in Brussels told us about partnering with a 9 year old girl who had a desire to help refugees and has since been tapped for an award for her efforts.
– We weren’t just helping a young girl with collecting and giving out clothes, we were helping shape her future.

Sam In Lisbon told us about a 90 year old woman living without heat or hot water, which they were able to provide for her after exhaustive efforts.
– We weren’t just bringing warm water to an elderly woman, we were bringing a warm ending to the twilight of her life. 

We look forward to more stories such as these, along with many opportunities for networking, practical professional development, and fun at our upcoming Forum!  If you are planning to attend and haven’t yet registered, please do so ASAP at this link.

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Crossing the Line In Dublin

At Serve the City we actively seek to cross the lines that divide us in our cities, but sometimes, unexpectedly, the line comes to us.  Sheryl McElwee of STC Dublin recently had this experience in Dublin with her son (in her words):

Today Andrew came to visit from London. We were in town for a while and as we were heading home, Andrew and I were walking together on the Quays. Some kind of fight broke out between a few young men. One young lad showed another what appeared to be a knife. All the guys seemed to be on drugs or drunk. Two lads walked off. Andrew and I crossed the street to get away from what appeared to be an escalating violent exchange. We were standing waiting for Alan. One of the men came flying across the street threatening Andrew. We walked quickly away but the man pursued us continuing to shout threats at Andrew. I told Andrew to run – just get away as I didn’t know if the man would try to hit him or if he had a weapon. Andrew ran quickly away assuming I was following behind.

At that moment I felt I needed to just stop.

I looked this man squarely in the eyes and asked gently “why do you want to hurt my son? He’s done nothing wrong. We are just waiting for my husband. You look upset are you ok?” At that question the man began to cry. It became clear that he was homeless and foreign. My heart broke for him. He told me how no one understands. He had tried so hard. He said he used to have a lot of money. He said now people look at him like he is nothing. All the while he was crying. I got a chance to tell him that I didn’t think he was nothing. I cried too and said I care. Please what is your name? Can I pray for you? He told me his name is Chris. He looked like he had been in a few fights with scars and bumps on his face.

To be honest it was a stupid thing to do. But sometimes you’ve got to be stupid. That’s where beauty resides, in our frailty, in our vulnerability, in our brokenness, in seeing those things in one another, in what seems completely stupid to others. Sometimes just sometimes we have to just sit with people in the ashes of their lives.

What I hope is that we all stop and think about those who are forced out on to the streets due to drugs or just plain old hard times and consider the person. They are something. Just show one small kindness. Stop and ask. Don’t look down on them. Don’t just look away. They all have a name.

Tonight my heart breaks for a man named Chris. I see you Chris. Thank you.

Thank you for your inspirational story, Sheryl!

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