• Will Spink
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    Administrative Assistant
    Youth/Children
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    Assistant Pastor, Shepherding & Young Families
  • Angela Sierk
    Director, Children's Ministry
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    Director, Nursery
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    Director, Community Development
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Express Grace Conference 2016


I am not very good at setting New Year’s resolutions. The thought of committing to one or two changes for a year is overwhelming to me, so I usually end up making a list of 20 things and then never follow through with any of them. Anyone else know that feeling? Or maybe you are a New Year’s resolution pro! You look forward to making lists, planning out your priorities and evaluating your life. You LOVE New Year’s and find inspiration in this season to make wonderful and lasting changes in your life. Or maybe you are somewhere in-between. I will not attempt a theological discussion of New Year’s resolutions—see Will Spink if you have questions about that—but I will say that I believe God establishes for His people regular times of celebration and reflection for our good. He established seasons, He instituted feasts and sacrifices and in the New Testament, communion. God knows that we humans need to be regularly reminded of what is true, what is defining, and what is important.

In my quest to become a better “resolution setter,” I was told by someone that I should look at my values and priorities and ask the question “where do my schedule / budget / commitments line up with my values and priorities, and where are they out of line?” Instead of beginning with the ACTION I need to take, I ought to begin at the root and determine what is ultimately important to me. In other words, before I worry about how to start the car and press the gas pedal, I need to know where I am driving! If I say that physical health is a priority but my pantry is stashed with candy, then I need to make some changes. If I say that God’s grace to me in Christ is important (and I happen to believe it is of utmost importance), then my schedule, budget, and commitments should reflect this.

This is why we hold our annual Express Grace Conference. It is an opportunity for us to step back and evaluate our lives in light of God’s grace, asking ourselves if our schedules, budgets, and commitments reflect the priority God’s grace holds in our lives. If a passion for health is reflected in a refrigerator full of vegetables, what does a passion for God’s grace look like? While it can and should take many forms, each form will be characterized by care for the hurting, vulnerable, and “least of these” in one way or another. It will reflect the selfless sacrifice of a Savior who made Himself nothing so that sinners might be made sons and daughters of God.

In an effort to express God’s grace intentionally outside of our walls, Southwood has developed strategic partnerships both in Huntsville and around the world! We are not subcontracting out our kingdom work to these ministries; rather we have the privilege of participating with them in kingdom service and following their leadership. We could simply preach a sermon on expressing grace, give you a list of partners and tell you to go and engage. However, a personal conversation and invitation is worth a thousand glossy fliers. To this end we have asked our ministry partners to join us Saturday, January 16 for our Express Grace Conference. Each ministry partner will have a specific way that you can engage with their ministry - whether praying, tutoring, answering phones, or serving on a short-term mission trip. You will have the opportunity to ask personal questions, find out about new ministries, and consider practical ways to get involved. We want you to leave Saturday night not only encouraged to express grace in our community but also well-equipped to do so! 

Express Grace Schedule:
5:00-6:00pm - Casual Dinner (nursery for 0-3 will open at 5:00, child care for children over 3 will open at 5:30)
6:00-6:45pm - Worship and teaching with Scotty Smith
6:45-7:30pm - Dessert, coffee, and connecting with our ministry partners

We are asking everyone to consider bringing a finger dessert to share. We hope this night will be an encouraging time of fellowship and intentional consideration of the ways we can express grace in Huntsville and around the world!

Partners Represented at Express Grace:
Each of the partners listed below will have personal representatives at our Express Grace Conference. You are encouraged to stop by their tables, learn about their ministry, and then consider what action steps you will take to engage with their work. There are many ways to serve, and each representative will happily share how you can fit into their ministry!

Lincoln Village Ministry
Lincoln Village Ministry consists of a partnership between churches in our city and Lincoln Mill neighbors to share the hope of Christ and facilitate long-term community revitalization through housing rehabilitation, a private school, after-school tutoring programs, and relationships with their neighbors.

The CornerStone Initiative
The CornerStone Initiative is focused in the neighborhood behind the former Butler High School and is committed to relational reconciliation and long-term community development through “front porch” conversations, workforce development strategies, and educational support for students, and Jobs For Life. Southwood is specifically partnered with The CornerStone Initiative for our ongoing Jobs For Life classes.

Second Mile Development
Second Mile Development works within the Terry Heights and Hillandale neighborhoods to reconcile relationships through the promotion of neighborhood initiatives, early childhood education, and parental empowerment.

Young Life
Young Life is committed to engaging students in the midst of their lives and culture so volunteers attend sports games, sit in school cafeterias, and work to show God’s love to students through the ministry of presence designed to foster deeper relationships.

Aggie’s Arts
Aggie’s Arts is committed to partnering with impoverished families in Uganda and engaging them in developing economic independence through meaningful relationships, high-quality education, and entrepreneurship. They do this by teaching women in Uganda how to make beaded jewelry and then providing a Western market for the jewelry through their offices in Huntsville.

The Village of Promise
The Village of Promise is committed to engaging children and families from the womb through college, beginning with Infant University where young parents learn about early childhood development and are equipped to be active participants in their child’s growth. The Village of Promise currently works in Montview Elementary and University Place Elementary.

RUF at A&M and UAH
The purpose of RUF is to build a community on the college campus that reaches students of divergent beliefs and doubts with the message of the gospel and equips them to love and serve Jesus and his Church. Roy Hubbard serves at Alabama A&M, building a core of students where there is currently little reformed presence. Reid Jones serves at University of Alabama in Huntsville.

29:11 Inc.
29:11 Inc believes that children are our community’s most promising investment, but that many are not thriving in their current educational settings. To this end they are opening New Beginnings Academy in the Terry Heights neighborhood to provide a nurturing and academically rigorous environment for low-income students in Huntsville—working alongside families to reverse the trend of generational poverty through relational investments.

InFocus Ministry
In Focus works with international students on the UAH campus through a weekly Bible study and regular fellowship events. Participants come literally from around the world, with varied religious and social backgrounds, and the InFocus volunteers work to show them the love of Christ as they explore the Scriptures together.

Global Mission Partners
We have foreign mission partners scattered across the globe, but just because they cannot attend this event does not mean that there are not meaningful ways to engage with one of these partners! Stop by the Global Missions table to learn about our different missionaries and find specific ways to pray, give, and even go on a short-term mission trip with them in the next year!