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Bloomingdale Church awarded Best Partnership by Illinois Association of Park Districts
Bloomingdale Church, which housed a number of Bloomingdale Park District programs (including preschool) in the 2018-19 school year, was awarded Best Partnership by the Illinois Association of Park Districts.
Children’s Ministry Director, Morgan (& Mickey) Lang attended and received the award at the Annual Best of the Best Awards Gala held November 1.
When the Bloomingdale Park District passed their referendum in 2016, it included a complete renovation of its rec center. While Park District staff and residents were excited over the good news, there was one problem. With its primary programming space unavailable, the Park District would have to endure a year with virtually no recreation and/or office space. Where would the park district hold its programs?
Bloomingdale Church stepped up in the largest way possible, offering unused space in its facility to house the Park District’s preschool, before and after school, and other early childhood programs for the 2018-19 school year. In addition, the Church provided office space for a Park District recreation supervisor and granted access to its gymnasium to run a variety of youth sports programs.
“The Bloomingdale community relies heavily upon the Park District to provide safe, quality early childhood programs and before/after school care to our youngest residents,” said Bloomingdale Park District Executive Director Carrie Fullerton. “We are incredibly grateful to our friends at Bloomingdale Church for housing some of our largest, most critical program areas during what was a very challenging time.”
The church offering up its space was the culmination of a partnership that has grown stronger and stronger over the past 7-8 years. “When another organization in our community needed help with a special opportunity, we were glad to assist,” said Bloomingdale Church Administrative Pastor Daniel Riemenschneider.
“Bloomingdale Church is in the community and for our community. We are proud to be a safe and welcoming place for all.”
The partnership began when the Park District reached out to local churches in a marketing effort, as well as to simply be a good neighbor. After an initial meeting, the two organizations agreed to cross market programs with a simple exchange of flyers. Then the Church offered to help out at the Bloomingdale Park Foundation’s annual 5K in 2014.
The partnership really solidified in 2017 when the Church approached the Park District with a request. The venue where the Church held its annual Easter Egg Hunt was unavailable. Could the Church merge its Easter event with the Park District’s Bunny Bash? With the Church providing an additional 20+ face painters, 10+ balloon artists, and eight ice cream scoopers to assist with gallons upon gallons of free ice cream provided by the Church, the answer was easy. Of course!
The following fall, the Church provided approximately 10 volunteers who helped with various games and activities at the Park District’s Annual Fall Fest. Shortly thereafter, they assisted at a Halloween event along with the Village of Bloomingdale and Bloomingdale Public Library. The Church is now a regular attendee at these annual community-wide special events.
“Bloomingdale Church has been a great addition to our largest events,” said Recreation Supervisor Rebecca Defrancesco. “Not only have they added entertainment value to our events, but they’ve also increased attendance by also bringing a lot of their following.”
Bill B’s Testimony
“I grew up in our small town about 90 miles west of Chicago. My parents took me to church as a kid. As a teen, I got away from church as fast as I could. I got really turned off by what seemed like a lot of hypocrisy, judgmentalism, and a ‘check your brain at the door’ mentality. I didn’t want to be anywhere near it for a lot of years. I ran away from church, but more importantly, I ran away from God too. I assumed that they were one and the same.
Since I also grew up on a farm, my parents stubbornly insisted that I possess a strong work ethic. On a farm, things need to be done today. If you are there, you just have to do it and you keep doing it until it is done. It seems to me that a lot of people get indoctrinated with a hard work ethic from their family. We often carry it on when we grow up and get into our careers. Certainly, a hard work ethic is a fine personal value to possess, but it can also get the best of us when we misapply it.
For years, I was so driven, chasing my career, working 60-80 hour a week. I was doing some cool stuff with technology, but I wasn’t thinking at all about where I was racing. I was trying hard to achieve and advance. Then, a decade into it all, I began to evaluate my life and face down my obsessive drivenness and the inner dissatisfaction that I couldn’t shake. I had been all about trying harder, working longer, but I was no closer to being at peace with myself. Then, a friend invited my wife, Susie and I to come with them to Bloomingdale Church one Sunday.
We visited and even came back hit and miss for a year or so. Even though we didn’t know if we really believed what was being said, we liked what we were learning. The Bible was related so practically to our everyday life. I also began to understand Jesus’ teaching on finding peace and hope. Still, I reasoned to myself, I know how to work hard and I can balance out the shortfalls in my life with more good behavior. I can work my way to heaven, if there is one. I figured God would have to let me in, since He must grade on the curve anyway. I felt I had worked hard at being good. But I asked myself, ‘How good do you have to be?’ ‘How hard do you have to work?’ ‘Whose standard are you using?’
Through my many questions, my search finally landed with the simple insight that when Christ said ‘It is finished’ on the cross, He had completed the way for me to have forgiveness with God and contentment with myself. He had paid for my sins. There was no way I could work hard enough to pay for them. That would be an endless and futile effort. Finally, I found real peace in my life and in my soul through trusting what Jesus did, and finished. These days my life continues to be a work in progress, but I am so grateful that I now see the big picture and resolution for my inner struggle. Jesus paid the price for my sin. I could never work hard enough to do that.”