This is truly a Christmas miracle.
When Christ Fellowship Church asked its parishioners to help make "an everlasting impact on the hurting and under resourced this month", the idea was simply to raise $337,000 on the weekend of Dec. 15 and 16.
The result was overwhelming, when thousands of families attending one of the megachurch’s six campuses throughout Miami-Dade County decided it was truly more blessed to give than to receive, and raised more than $601,000 in two days.
According to Aimee Artiles, a spokeswoman from the church, "Thousands of churchgoers waited in line to give, using debit cards, writing checks, and turning in cash." Every penny of the money collected will be used to help the hurting and under-resourced in Miami and India," she said.
Artiles said more than half the money will stay in Miami, and will be used by a nonprofit organization affiliated with the church, Caring for Miami, to help meet the dental, medical and mental needs of thousands in South Florida. Caring for Miami’s most recent tax return lists the organization’s largest activities as including counseling on abortion alternatives, post-abortion counseling, assistance to homeless people, and aid to proselytizing activities.
The Rev. Rick Blackwood, senior pastor of the church said, "Christ Fellowship is blessed with the capacity to dream big. This December, we challenged everyone, including our own staff, to give big and be a light to their community and the world. the results were astounding."
Even the children’ were encouraged to bring in a new gift for a local foster child, as well as donate their own pennies to help another child in need. The children alone, raised $3,814.05 in pennies. The middle and high school youngsters were encouraged to leave their own shoes behind after service and more than 1,855 pairs of shoes were
collected in one weekend and will be shipped to others in need in countries like El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Haiti.
Christ Fellowship is one of the region’s largest churches, with campuses in downtown Miami, Palmetto Bay, West Kendall, Homestead, Redland and Coral Gables. For more information about the church, call 786-486-7339 or visit www.cfmiami.org.
On Jan. 5, Bishop Walter H. Richardson, one of the longest serving pastors in Miami-Dade County, will celebrate his 90th birthday. To honor him, his church family will have a gala dinner at Miami Shores Country Club, followed by a special worship service on Jan. 6, in the church sanctuary at 1351 NW 67th St. in Liberty City.
Richardson is one of the county’s unsung heroes. He quietly goes about doing all the good he can for the downtrodden and those who are victims in natural disasters throughout the world. And he hasn’t just started doing good; when millions were homeless during the Rwanda crisis, he spearheaded a movement in the church to collect t-shirts, soap, medical supplies and ponchos for children whose parents had been killed in the civil war and were living in refugee camps. His efforts spilled over into the community and members of the congregation met two evenings to pack the items, which the church then paid thousands of dollars to have the items shipped to Africa.
He did the same thing when there was a natural disaster and thousands in the United States, Haiti, the Bahamas, Jamaica and other Caribbean countries needed help.
Several years ago, the Bahamas gave special recognition to him for his efforts in helping the island nation when it was hit especially hard by a hurricane.
These are just a few examples of the kind of man the bishop is. And it is because of his leadership and love for his fellow human beings that he is being honored.
"We want to honor him on this special milestone of his 90th birthday," said Linda M. Swift, the coordinator of the gala. "He is such a wise and humble man. ... He is almost embarrassed when we openly praise him for his good works."
Richardson is married to the former Betty Forbes. His two sons followed him into the ministry. His older son the Rev. Dr. Walter T. Richardson is pastor emeritus at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist church in Perrine , who was appointed this year to head the Miami-Dade Community Relations Boards, and his younger son Elder Alfred J. Richardson, is a pastor in Georgia.
Tickets to the gala are $15 each and if you would like to attend, you must make your reservations by Dec. 30, by calling Swift at 786-333-4211.
The Gordon Schools at Beth David Congregation has opened its After School Enrichment Program to the entire community.
The program is open to all children ages 2-11 and offers activities from sports to the arts, and from science to dance.
Classes will begin the week of Jan. 7, and registration is now open. To register your child, send an email to email@example.com.
Law professor to speak
The community is invited to hear renowned Harvard law professor and author Alan Dershowitz at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 18, at Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, 20400 NE 30th Ave. in Aventura.
The event is the fourth annual Young Professionals Friday Night Live Service and is being sponsored by the Jewish center and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Miami Club. The evening will feature a musical service with Rabbi Jonathan Berkun on guitar and Cantor David Muchnick on keyboard. A Shabbat dinner will follow with conversation with Dershowitz. Prior to Shabbat, there will be a meet, greet and photo opportunity at 5 p.m.
The cost is $25 for adults and $10 for children. Complimentary babysitting will be provided. If you go, you must make your reservations by Jan. 16 to the Jewish center at 305-937-1880 or LKafka@atjc.org.