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Connellsville ministry group's focus is on a hand up more than a hand out

| Monday, April 21, 2014, 1:39 p.m.

Connellsville Area Community Ministries is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with an open house.

The special event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 10. Since much of the remodeling of the ministry building has been accomplished, tours will be offered throughout the day.

“People like to see the project progress, and they like to see downstairs,” said Chip Rowan, executive director. “We have 21,000 square feet, and people just see the 10,500 half that is upstairs.”

Each tour will be about 30 minutes. Reservations are required.

To register for a tour, call 724-626-1120 or email

Rowan related the meaningfulness of this 40th year by explaining that the number 40 holds particular significance in the Bible.

There are at least 10 instances in the Old Testament and New Testament in which 40 occurs, either in years or days, he said. For instance, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights; Moses was on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights; the Israelites wandered 40 years; Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and was seen on Earth for 40 days after his crucifixion.

A 40-something time period, whether days, months or years, is always a period of testing, trial, probation or chastisement (but not judgment) and ends with a period of restoration, revival or renewal, he continued. Also, the Bible often resorts to the number 40 when a new chapter, or new start, begins.

“I believe there is significance in the 40th anniversary for CACM and God's calling on this ministry to focus on offering a hand up more than a hand out. While we will always offer assistance and compassion to those we serve, I see the focus of the ministry directed on how we can help those we serve to become self-sufficient and less reliant on public assistance and handouts,” Rowan said. “God is providing the resources for this to become a reality as he sends volunteers with the skills and experience to assist our clients in obtaining employment or improving their employment options. This has been seen already through the recent resume-writing classes and the planned Career Corner ministry.

“Our partnership with The Holy Trinity St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Salvation Army to bring a Circles chapter to Connellsville is another example of how God is bringing all the pieces together,” he continued. “Through a structured and proven process, Circles helps families who are struggling in poverty to become self-sufficient. Over the past 40 years, CACM has been able to provide help to many people, and we celebrate the positive impact the ministry has made in the lives of these people. As we enter this new chapter of ministry, God is going to use CACM as a bridge to move people who find their lives consumed with crisis and chaos to a new place where the crisis and chaos is removed.”

“The Fayette County Cultural Trust would like to congratulate Connellsville Area Community Ministries on its 40th anniversary,” said Michael Edwards, FCCT president. “The Connellsville Canteen will also hold an open house on May 10 to highlight the Harry Clark model railroad display. Volunteers, including Harry's son, have been working diligently to clean the display. Dan Cocks has been collecting the images and stories of local World War II heroes, which are displayed throughout the building. We invite everyone to visit the new Canteen when they are in downtown Connellsville to go to the CACM celebration.”

As a part of this 40-year celebration, CACM has offered an opportunity for giving that will allow community members to be part of the positive action plans for the future. A campaign to raise $10,000 has begun. Individuals, families, groups, organizations, churches and businesses are asked to consider a donation of $40 or more toward this goal so CACM can continue its work of helping those in need.

Suggestions for giving to help CACM hit its goal before May 31 are: $40 per month for the next 10 months ($400); $40 per month for the next 5 months ($200); $40 per month for the next 3 months ($120); or a one-time gift of $40.

Donations may be mailed to CACM, 110 W. Crawford Ave. A special section relating to the 40-year history of CACM will be published in the Daily Courier on April 26. A cut-out pledge coupon will be in the section for those who would like to use it for their gift.

“We want to remind everyone to put the May 10 anniversary open house on their calendar, as it will be a big day in downtown Connellsville,” Rowan said.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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