BridgeBuilder
December 2013

VOL. 1; ISSUE 3

A Message From the Executive Director
Rev. Harold Brinkley

As 2013 winds down, I want to thank all who have supported Project Bridges, both in your prayers, financial giving and your participation in the ministry. Over the past several years we have continued to stay focused and committed to pursue our vision of “Empowering Ministries to Transform Communities.” We believe this to be a divine mandate that is extremely relevant in this season to address the critical needs within our communities and society. We strongly feel that the key to bringing transformation is developing and nurturing transformational leadership.

By definition, transformational leaders are “those who have been spiritually empowered with a biblical understanding and sensitivity to the mission of the Church and the Kingdom, who are enthusiastic and passionate, having an ability to clearly convey vision and goals with a passion for God's work and an ability to effectively mobilize their followers.”

It has been said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Project Bridges continues to seek to come alongside the Church to assist it in fulfilling its local and corporate vision, i.e., “The Great Commission.” We desire to bring change and transformation to those whom God has called us to minister to and serve.

However, as I look at the conditions of both our churches and society, I am profoundly convinced that the greatest need today is for a spiritual awakening.

I believe it can only come when the people of God and His Church experience a genuine transforming revival and renewal, which will empower the Church and individual believers.

I often quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 because it is a clarion call to the Church, its leaders, as well as individual believers to seriously examine how we are responding to His requirements, corporately and personally, as it relates to the four prerequisites found in the verse, that promise to bring change and transformation through the power of His Holy Spirit. 

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” When we earnestly embrace these four areas, the Church will become a powerful agent of change. God promises forgiveness of sin and healing of our land, communities and cities, along with personal and corporate situations. Are we ready and willing to respond to these four requirements that will empower us to be an effective transforming agent in our communities and our society?

If not, we will see greater criminal activity, poverty, backlash against the church, disrespect among children, destruction of the family unit and more as our society gets farther and farther from God. But if you are ready for the Lord to move, then I encourage you to link closely with us in 2014, as we seek to start a transformational revival!

We welcome your thoughts and feedback. Please send comments to info@projectbridges.org.


Getting to the Heart of the Matter

It is pretty well known that many people become depressed, stressed and anxious around the winter holiday season. But more and more, the Church is starting to see people dealing with traumatic situations throughout the year.

Is the Church equipped to handle the emotional, psychological and sometimes physical needs of its parishioners and those in the local community? Well, on Nov. 2, 2013, Project Bridges held its third Regent Bridges Seminar to delve deeper into this issue.

Two licensed clinical psychologists and faculty members of Regent University discussed the topic, “Communities in Crisis: Addressing Trauma & Dysfunction.” Dr. Lee A. Underwood set the stage for why people, particularly African Americans and Latinos, deal with so much trauma. He shared stats on the high school dropout rate, divorce/breakdown of stable families, crime, poverty and more. All of these factors play a role in the lives of people and in turn have an impact on the community as a whole.

Dr. Carissa Dwiwardani touched on trauma and transformation because there are times when trauma produces growth in a person. From a Christian perspective, there are three necessary ingredients to bring about growth and healing. They are:

  • Truth with Grace – The two must be coupled together; truth without grace heaps suffering upon suffering
  • Time (Luke 13) – Don’t rush a person through their process; remember to offer hope throughout
  • Relational Bond (John 15) – Be present in another’s suffering; trust God; trust people

As the discussion developed, it became apparent that attendees were most focused on those who struggle with individual and collective trauma, as well as other emotional concerns. These individuals, while not blatantly mentally ill (psychotic, suicidal or gravely disabled) also represent the biggest challenge to church leadership, according to Dr. Underwood. “These individuals struggle with relationships [and may be] described by others as selfish and emotionally immature. At times, these individuals participate in gossip and hurtful behavior that have the potential to negatively affect the morale of the church,” he noted.

Historically, the church has not maximized opportunities to address these kinds of needs. However, Dr. Underwood commended Project Bridges for equipping leaders to better address the needs of parishioners who struggle with significant life experiences. “I continue to be amazed with the level of commitment that was present,” said Dr. Underwood. “Participants, representing senior pastors, ministers and lay leaders were not only physically present, [they were] actively engaged in the topic. In my years of working closely with churches and church leaders, I have not seen this level of commitment.”

Through the day-long seminar, attendees were equipped to respond to the needs of individuals in their community. In the church that may look like a counseling ministry or something as simple as a lay group that refers people to the proper resources to respond to their hurts.

“The hope is that the information will help leaders bridge the emotional and physical worlds of individuals with their spiritual lives,” said Dr. Underwood. “True transformation moves folks from immobility to acceptance of their heritage in Christ.”


Does the PB Tuition Discount Help?

As the cost of higher education continues to skyrocket, many are not able to go after an undergraduate or graduate degree. However, Project Bridges places a high premium on educating Christian leaders and helping to make education more affordable.

Through the kind generosity and wonderful partnerships with Regent University and Lancaster Bible College/Capital Bible Seminary, a 25% tuition discount is available to students from qualifying Bridges member churches and organizations. This higher education discount has blessed several members under the Bridges umbrella and three recent Regent University graduates shared their experience.

 Dr. Bobby Manning
 Dr. Bobby Manning

Dr. Bobby Manning
Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of District Heights

In August 2010, Pastor Bobby Manning embarked on a journey to earn his Doctorate of Ministry with a concentration in Community Transformation. While he had looked at a few universities, one of the main deciding factors that steered him toward Regent University was the tuition discount from Project Bridges. “I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish it or pay for it, if I did not have this connection,” said Dr. Manning. “Also, Rev. Harold Brinkley has been a huge encouragement to me. I always had someone in my corner rooting me on to succeed.” A big part of Dr. Manning’s ministry has a teaching aspect. He says going through the process to earn his doctorate taught him a great deal of discipline and has allowed him to excel in several areas as a pastor. On May 9, 2013, he successfully defended his dissertation and will participate in formal graduation ceremonies in May 2014. As shepherd of the First Baptist Church of District Heights, Dr. Manning encourages his members to attend and learn from the seminars offered through Project Bridges. In addition, he readily shares the college opportunities for their youth to attend Regent and Lancaster Bible College while utilizing the tuition discount. Dr. Manning noted that the membership fee for Project Bridges is so small considering the benefits you receive. “I am grateful for Rev. Brinkley and the hard work he does through Project Bridges, his genuine care for pastors, the local church and seeing the local church succeed.”

 Dr. Gloria Miller
Dr. Gloria Miller

Dr. Gloria Miller
Associate Pastor, First Baptist Church of Glenarden

Dr. Gloria Miller has operated in full-time ministry for more than 30 years being used by God at different branches of Zion. She currently serves as an associate pastor at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden. A few years ago, she contemplated ways to further her education and take her ministry efforts to a new level while supporting Christian leaders. As she was preparing to settle on a school and program, Rev. Harold Brinkley shared the opportunity to utilize the Project Bridges tuition discount at Regent University. After researching Regent and finding strong course offerings in her area of interest, the discount became the icing on the cake. While in school, Rev. Miller attended quite a few Project Bridges seminars that focused on leadership topics, and she was able to add some of that information into her dissertation. Two years and eight months from the start of her program, she successfully defended her dissertation. In May 2013, she graduated summa cum laude with her Doctorate of Ministry with a concentration in Christian Leadership and Renewal. She also earned her certification as a life coach under the tutelage of Dr. Joseph Umidi. Dr. Miller readily admits she may not have been able to zoom through the program so quickly if she did not have the tuition discount along with significant support from FBCG. “I was able to attend summer school twice,” she said. “The assistance made a big difference in planning what I needed to get done.” Now that she has received her doctorate, she is in the process of sharing her dissertation with church leaders. The topic is on building authentic relationships and she is helping Christian leaders understand the need to build healthy relationships, particularly as it relates to overcoming dysfunctional leadership in our churches. Perhaps you will see Dr. Miller teaching about this topic at one of the Project Bridges seminars one day. Stay tuned …

 Mrs. Ella Moore
Mrs. Ella Moore

Mrs. Ella Moore
Member, Beulah Baptist Church

As a faithful volunteer of Project Bridges, Ella Moore was attending one of its seminars a few years ago when she heard about the tuition discount offered to member churches. Interestingly enough, Mrs. Moore, a retiree, had just completed her undergraduate degree and was praying about whether she should pursue a master’s degree. The announcement at the seminar felt like the answer to a prayer and sparked Mrs. Moore to begin the process. This year she graduated from Regent University with her Master’s Degree in Human Services Counseling. A member of Beulah Baptist Church for more than 55 years, Mrs. Moore plans to put her degree to work in serving her church. She and her husband are currently facilitators in the Couples Ministry. Mrs. Moore is also taking a coaching course and will be available to offer counseling and coaching within her church’s current structure. She feels very prepared to help others. “I feel like I received what I would have gotten from a secular university, along with the Christian perspective. I got the best of both worlds,” she said.

All three are thanking God for the discount and shouting for joy at completing their respective degrees. We congratulate them on their accomplishments and praise God for how He is going to use them for His glory!!

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