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Grace Church

Local Church Decreasing Crime

            In the city of Columbia, there are many churches of all denominations trying to spread their religion and values. Grace Church of Columbia, located on 2710 Harrison Road in the Forest Acres area of Columbia, is an evangelical church centered in the Pinehurst community which is between Forest Drive and Two Notch Road. Grace came into existence following a split from Kilbourne Park Baptist Church in 2005. The church is led by Pastor Jonathan (Jon) Weigel as well as the pastor of discipleship John Cromer. The church has been working with the Pinehurst Community, especially the Four Seasons Apartment Complex, to try to get involved and make a true difference in the community. The Pinehurst community has been a poor area where crime has been abundant. Sydney Allsbrook, a member of the church since its founding had this to say about the situation: “We’ve been working with the Pinehurst community for probably 3 or 4 years now. The whole thing started by simply picking local kids up for a free Wednesday night dinner and church service and grew from there. It was Pastor Jon’s vision to see our church reflect the people in our community. It took some getting used to for a lot of members, with some members deciding to leave. The involvement in the community and people we were different than was something that was difficult to get used to. It has certainly opened my eyes to how we are all people and everyone has a desire to be loved.”

The church has seen a massive growth in attendance since its start of only 30 people. Now the church has on average 100 people each Sunday, with sometimes more. When I spoke to pastor Jon Weigel about the differences his church has made in the community he had this to say “We are a diverse body of people who are committed to loving God, loving people and living authentic lives” a line that can be found on the church’s website. “What started with a simple pickup for dinner has grown. Now the parents of these children are getting involved and coming. We try to help them with counseling and life decisions, let them know that people care about them,” says Weigel. The church has certainly done so. With statistics from Raidsonline, the crime rate in the community has dropped while the church has flourished. With only 5 recorded break ins and burglaries since the start of this year the church has managed to make an impact in a once crime flooded community. With over 80 recorded crimes in 2011 the church has slowly created a different environment for the people. “The people of this church remember moving here. It was a scary transition leaving behind the safety of our old family at Kilbourne for Pinehurst but, we felt it was what God wanted us to do. God certainly has provided for us here,” said John Cromer. Cromer himself is the drummer of the praise band at the church.

            The church’s newest helping project however is even larger, that being becoming sister churches with Ban Sila Baptist Church in Prachin Buri, Thailand in 2012. While staying two weeks over Christmas last year on a mission trip, the church decided to make plans for “at least one trip a year, over the next several years to Thailand” as stated by the website. Also, the church will begin a partnership with the Oliver Gospel Mission in the near future.

While Grace Church may not be the biggest church in the city of Columbia, they appear to certainly be making a big difference and accomplishing their goal.

Grace Church can be found on Harrison Road in Columbia, between the major roads of Two Notch and Forest. The church’s website can be found at www.gracechurchcolumbia.org with biographies of the pastors as well as the list of sermons taught every Sunday. Regular service hours can also be found on the site with Sunday school from 9 to 10:15 and Fellowship from 10:30 to 12. Contact the church at contact@gracechurchcolumbia.org

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Interview with grandma

For this assignment, I decided I would interview my grandmother. This is how the interview went down.

            I started the interview by thanking her for being able to make time out of her schedule to do this interview, and started with the questions.

“What is your name? Your birthday? Any other details about yourself you would be willing to share?” I asked. She replied very quickly “My name is Caroline Derrick Stroup Funderburk. I was born in Baptist hospital, Columbia South Carolina, 1926.” I followed her response quickly by asking where she grew up, and any siblings she had as a child. With a response as quick as the first, she answered, “I grew up in Lancaster, South Carolina. I had one older brother, named Ben Stroup. He was a good man.” Wishing to get a little more information about her past, I asked about her career and college choice. Caroline responded by saying she knew she wanted to be a nurse as a senior in high school. She attended Winthrop University and John Hopkins as well after her four years. Finally, I asked her where she met her future husband. Caroline knew immediately by stating, “Baltimore, I was a student at John Hopkins. He was a dental student at the University of Maryland. We met from friends of his in Lancaster who knew me. Love at first sight.”

            After getting a good majority of her past, I decided it was time to inquire about her views on media, and her first ever news story she remembers. “The first news story I remember? Hmm. Oh Pearl harbor of course! I lived through Pearl Harbor. It was on a Sunday. We had gone on an afternoon Sunday school church mission when the news came over that the Japanese had bombed us. I was probably a senior in high school. Before that, I remember news about England being bombed nightly and leaders Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson secretly meeting on ships.” she stated. I asked her, if she could elaborate on the media’s effect following Pearl Harbor. Her response was, “Yeah America went full tilt to war effort. The men were gone and all that was left was women and Rosie the Riveter. Propaganda was everywhere. Magazines and newspapers covered it. There would be advertisements telling us to ration our sugar and tea. One memory I can see clearly is sugarless pound cake and unsweetened tea. It was rough times but, no one ever complained. We all supported the war effort and did what we were told.”

            When asked about what the media was like growing up as well as if she is still adapting to the new technology used now, Caroline answered “We had mostly radio. We didn’t get TV till much. Later. Maybe the 1950s when I had my first child. Not until after college I know. We wrote a lot of letters as well. It was the main way to communicate. Now everything is text messages. As for whether or not I’m stopped adapting, I try to adapt. I am not successful at it but I try. Cell phones, computers, kitchen tools. All of it.” After a short laugh she explained what influences her decisions to buy new technology by saying, “If you don’t get the new technology you can’t communicate. I don’t want to be behind. Money though is what’s bad. All this new stuff is expensive. My generation is not used to having to pay expense for convenience. For instance your iPod thing. You probably paid $100 for that. We would have never done that. The thing I love about it though is the correction ability. Type writers were impossible to fix. Now it’s easy to fix on the computer. Searching for information is easy! It would take hours to find something on index cards at the library. You probably do not know what those even are. Now I Google everything! I think it’s exciting. And convenient. I think it makes people want to live in too big of hurry, like the microwave, you want it to hurry. Living really too fast. We should be more patient. My computer is slow; I want it to speed up. But not everybody my age is willing to learn this stuff.”

            After agreeing, I asked her whether or not she thought “Today’s media is better or worse since her generation?” Her response was short, “Better. Much better. But I think they are too prejudiced. I think you get too many opinions but, it is detailed. Instead of seeing an event all you see is people’s opinions of events. You have to hunt for a channel that will give you the facts rather than a story featuring a reporter’s opinion. Just way to opinionated. But it is more complete. When I grew up, if something happened over in Europe you would find out three days later. Now a days you know immediately just by clicking anything. Or even a newspaper. Global instantaneous knowledge. That is the biggest difference. I think media is massively different in the last 50 years. 

Predicting Dark Horse Teams for the NBA Playoffs

With the NBA playoffs vastly approaching as we head towards summer and the end of the regular season, it is time to start looking at potential dark horses in the championship race. While the top teams like the Heat, Spurs, and Thunder are all picks to win it, what about those lesser teams with championship heart?

In the Eastern Conference
The Boston Celtics are the true dark horses in this conference. While the Celtics have hit the injury bug hard this year with losses such as all star Point Guard Rajon Rondo, rookie big man Jared Sullinger, and back pg Leandro Barbosa, the team has still managed to flourish and play great defense. Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley are the best defensive backcourt in the league and with a rising star in Jeff Green coming off the bench to give the veteran’s a much needed rest the team should have no goals other than winning the title. Doc Rivers is arguably the best coach in the NBA currently and has his team playing solid fundamental ball. Big man Brandon Bass is finally showing why he was resigned in the offseason and is hitting the glass hard with Chris Wilcox making up for the low rebound percentage. Jason Terry has shown in spurts he is capable of replacing Ray Allen and occasionally running the point guard spot. As long as the Cs can stay above the 7th or 8th seeds, expect a good fight to the conference finals like last year.

In the Western Conference
The Houston Rockets should be considered the true Dark Horse team in the Western Conference. While teams like Memphis and Golden State are threats to the elite teams at the top, they have been towards the top seeds since the regular season start. This Houston team, coached by Kevin McHale, is on average the youngest team in the NBA however they have managed to firmly plant themselves in the number 7 seed with a 39-32 record. With an MVP candidate and do it all player in shooting guard James Harden and budding stars in 3 pt specialist Foward Chandler Parsons, Big man Omer Asik, and fan favorite point guard Jeremy Lin, this team has become the 2nd highest scoring team in the NBA at 106 points per game With a recent victory over the Spurs, the best team in the West, this team has become a realistic threat. The team is currently 5th in assists per game and 9th in rebounds per game. If any team has an off shooting night against the Rockets the game might as well be over. With James Harden showing why he was paid the big bucks in the offseason, the sky is the limit for this offensive Juggernaut.

Smart Move?

On Wednesday, March 27th, 2013, the great and almighty University of California lost to Virginia Commonwealth. How you might ask? VCU Head basketball coach, Shaka Smart elected to stay at the school that gave him his first head coaching job rather than move to a university filled with basketball tradition like UCLA or Minnesota and start anew. Smart believes though he can make VCU, a mid major conference team in the Atlantic 10 a perennial powerhouse comparable to all time greats like Duke University and Kansas.
We can’t really blame him as Smart is following the recent trend of these young coaches like Brad Stevens at the University of Butler, recently joining the Atlantic 10 themselves. Smart though has made massive strides for a VCU rams program that until his arrival in 2009 has almost no basketball history at all let alone sports history. We all know his rams though from the recent years in the “big dance’ resulting in millions of ruined ESPN brackets, especially after their amazing final four run in 2011, giving the rams their first ever appearance in The sweet 16, elite 8, and final four. Smart also recently has done an excellent job in recruiting with barely any help from the University. For the first time in the program’s history, VCU has had players drafted in the 1st round of the NBA Draft in consecutive years, those players being Larry Sanders and Eric Maynor in 2010 and 2009 respectively. For college basketball fans, Smart’s name is now a household one.
Many of you might remember the young coach during his stint with a school near here in the upstate filled with the color of Orange and Purple from 2006-2008. We won’t hold it against him, especially since he made the smart move, pun intended, to stay at VCU and rule the school through a contract extension running until 2023! The contract is said to be worth a salary raise to 1.3 million a year as well as raises for his staff and better equipment for the team to train and watch film with. Basketball is now king in Richmond and Shaka is making history while holding VCU to his mercy.

NCAA Tournament Predictions Final Four

Me Predicting the Final four this year in the tournament. Send me your picks to reecef32@gmail.com or at my twitter THE_FUNDERBOLT

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Major league Baseball starts a little over a month. With the new season comes a great new season of fantasy baseball. Following last year’s excitement with the first triple crown winner in twenty years and a possible MVP candidate rookie one can only hope for more this year. Many drafts will be taking place within the next few weeks as training camp closes. While this happens, for your drafts, here are a few choices to go with in the first round depending on your pick as well as a few you should wait on for better value.

The first pick of the 2013 draft is…

Ryan Braun. Outfielder for the Milwaukee brewers.
This pick will probably be the most common in the drafts. Last year Braun was worthy of a top 3 pick, leading a Brewers team after loss of heavy hitter Prince Fielder. Braun escaped steroid and PED claims early last season as well this offseason after being linked to a Miami company. Braun put up massive numbers last year batting .319 to go with 41 homers as improving his 33 from 2011. Expect another year around .305 and maybe 36 homers.

To get good value with a later pick, maybe 4th or 5th look for these candidates and save your pitchers for 2nd and 3rd.

Matt Kemp. Outfielder for Los Angeles Dodgers.
After the first two picks, that being Braun or Trout, the rest of the 1st round can be more opinionated. Kemp has great return value as a .300 hitter and mid 80s/low 90s in RBIs however low stolen bases limits the amount he is really worth for your team.

Andrew McCutchen. Outfielder for Pittsburgh Pirates.
McCutchen was almost the sole reason for the resurgence of the Pirates’ offense last season. Being the first pirate in years to hit a 30 homer season at a .327 batting average will do that. Having 20+ steals doesn’t hurt either. Hitting that average again this Year though is a little unlikely however .310 is expected at the least. A young prospect worthy of top 3 pick who might be somewhat unknown could make a great steal a few picks down the board.

And finally for the my current steal of the draft..

Bryce Harper. Outfielder. Washington Nationals.
After having one of the greatest rookie campaigns at the age of 19 Harper was a great steal last year in later rounds. This year though could possibly be the same, just a little earlier. Harper is a great talent with a body still growing massively as a teenager. Harper was close last year to the 30/20 club (30 home runs and 20 steals) gaining 22/18. While Harper’s average is a little lower than we like (.270), surpassing that into around 2.80 seems likely. The biggest change though should come from his RBIs. Expect about 20 more with a whole offseason in MLB training camp to develop. If one can grab Harper anywhere in the 3rd round or lower, you have pulled a Tom Brady worthy pick.