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TMCNet:  City Ministry in Modesto extends focus, hand to non-Christians

[January 31, 2013]

City Ministry in Modesto extends focus, hand to non-Christians

MODESTO, Jan 31, 2013 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- City Ministry Network is changing its monthly meeting date and place and tweaking its focus this year to include anyone who wants to improve the community.


It will kick off its new look with breakfast and a talk on "CMN: Our Vision to Champion You" from 7 to 8:10 a.m. Feb. 7 at CrossPoint Community Church's Family Life Pavilion.

"Our main focus is Modesto-area leaders and influencers working together to transform our community," said Jeff Pishney, a Big Valley Grace Community Church pastor and founder of Love Modesto, who joined the CMN leadership team in 2011. "Our primary focus is Christian faith leaders. But we're welcoming anyone. We have church pastors, nonprofit leaders and others on their staffs. But we also have many businessmen come, people in education. We're building friendships with other people in town, networking and learning together." CMN began in 2005, mostly as a way to connect and support Christian nonprofit agencies and other church ministries in town. It was the brainchild of Marvin Jacobo, a Youth for Christ pastor who works with at-risk kids, and two other local pastors -- Ross Briles and Claude Terry.

"We began to see in our city there was a fragmented church culture," Jacobo said. "A lot of us knew each other, but we weren't really aware of what we each were doing. We thought we needed to have unity. The other thing we noticed is that there seemed to be a spirit in our community where the church was not considered a viable partner in the function of the city. We needed to mobilize churches to work for the city." The result, he said, has been a positive one.

"We've become initiators and activators of partnerships between church, government, nonprofit agencies and other groups," he said. "That's where our success seems to be at this point -- bringing people together and then disappearing and letting them do what they need to do. We love disappearing once the partnerships get going." One of the most visible aspects of CMN is its monthly meetings. This year, those meetings will offer practical tips on how to help organizations run more efficiently and how to affect the community.

Organizational topics include developing a vision, advertising and social media, dealing with conflict within an organization and setting healthy emotional boundaries for leaders.

Community topics will address undocumented immigrants, helping adults obtain GEDs, service projects and encouraging adoption over abortion.

The meetings begin with fellowship and free Starbucks coffee, include a conversational topic around tables and a 20-minute talk by a community leader, followed with prayer.

"We are always on time and we are prompt at closing at 8:10," Pishney said.

He said opening the group to non-Christians might bring some awkwardness, especially during the time of prayer, but added that he expects the format to stay the same.

"We're coming from a Christian faith perspective, but we can all do this together," Pishney said. "For the common good, we can talk about things to improve the community." For more information about CMN, call (209) 571-4331 or email jeff@lovemodesto.com.

Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at snowicki@modbee.com or (209) 578-2012.

___ (c)2013 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.) Visit The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.) at www.modbee.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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