In 2015 Graffiti 2 Community Ministries looked back and looked ahead. Celebrating 10 years of ministry in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx, we praised God for all He had accomplished. So many lives, both near and far, have new pages written by God in their story. Looking ahead, we dreamed of having a long-term, sustainable place for ministry in the building we now rent on Beekman Avenue.
While looking back and looking ahead both have their place, I believe God’s presence is in the present. So, while we were looking back and looking ahead, here are a few things that happened in 2015.
- Summer programs connected with about 200 children, teens, and adults through Summer Tots, Summer Kids, Summer Sports, Summer G.S.A.L.T., and Summer Moms.
- After school programs continued to serve 50 kids and teenagers and their families. In the fall, several “P” words were implemented to strengthen our programs: Prune—do less, not more, but do it better; Personal—be more personal with our families; if we’re family, then care like family; Pace—we’re in it for the long haul, don’t rush or push.
- G2 Making a Difference: Three students that are part of our programs lost their grandmother with whom they lived at the end of 2014. They moved in with their aunt and uncle. All three are in different stages of life and coping with the tumult differently. The youngest, a fourth grade boy, is mature for his age. He is the type of kid that everyone likes. This can be a problem around here. Popularity isn’t always a blessing. At school and on the street he made some poor decisions. Our team prayerfully formulated a plan to surround him with mentoring and accountability. Of course our Children’s Director daily ministers through the after school program. In addition, every day this young man is expected to check in and check out with our Youth Director. He stays late every Monday to receive targeted tutoring with help from our Tutoring Coordinator. Our Executive Director has weekly conversations with the young man’s school teacher. Our Office Manager and Graffiti 2 Works Director naturally love and nurture this boy. Our whole team is involved and the plan is working! We often quote the phrase, “We build a fence at the top of the cliff, not a hospital at the bottom.” This young man bumped into the fence. He’ll probably bump into it again, but thank God Graffiti 2 can be that fence!
- Graffiti 2 released a new website. Included is a new webstore where books and t-shirts can be purchased. Have you checked it out yet? Click Here.
- Graffiti 2 Works focused this past year on strengthening the artisan group. Graffiti 2’s Artisan group produces sewn goods for the market place. These goods can be purchased through WorldCrafts. WorldCrafts’ mission is to develop sustainable, fair-trade businesses among impoverished people around the world. Our group fulfilled an order for five different products totaling 973 pieces for WorldCrafts’ fall 2015 and spring 2016 catalog.
- The artisan group currently consists of four women making handmade, sewn goods. Two of these women are mothers of children in our after school program; one women is from our church; the fourth is a new connection for us. Graffiti 2 Works’ primary customer is World Craft.
- In the future, Graffiti 2 Works will expand to include more job opportunities as well as job training. Right now, however, the impact of this program is readily apparent. These four women and their families are being strengthened in quantitative and qualitative ways.
- This past year was a year of deepening, not widening for Graffiti 2 Baptist Church. As the pastor of Graffiti 2 Baptist Church, God has given me the image of tree roots under a concrete slab. Given enough time, those roots will tear up the hardened surface. For many in our church, the gospel of Jesus Christ is doing just that. I believe the disciples of Graffiti 2 Baptist Church are uniquely positioned as light in the Mott Haven neighborhood. However, God wants to work just as much in us as He does through us. 2015 was a year that God worked “in” Graffiti 2 Baptist Church.
- Although we have been a church since 2008, this past year G2BC officially established our own constitution, statement of faith, and covenant. Graffiti 2 Baptist Church and Graffiti 2 Community Ministries are now two separate entities.
- February 18, 2015—Graffiti 2 Baptist Church officially constituted
- June 18, 2015—Graffiti 2 Baptist Church officially incorporated in New York State
- September 18, 2015—Graffiti 2 Baptist Church officially joined the Southern Baptist Convention
- Graffiti 2 is blessed to be a part of the Graffiti Network of ministries and churches. Currently there are five Graffiti centers in metropolitan New York. Additionally, we have affiliates in Baltimore and Chicago, with more on the way. We describe our method of evangelism and discipleship as “upside down.” Rather than starting with church, we start with ministry. Ministry leads to faith. Faithful people grow the church.
- As a network, we are beginning to communicate and teach our upside-down principles to others. Here are our four formal methods of training:
- Upside-Down Conference: Although no conferences were offered in 2015, we are planning a conference for Winter 2017. Be on the lookout!
- Upside-Down Mission Training: In 2015, we began offering both experiential learning and training to our mission teams. Twelve mission teams received training in upside-down principles and first-hand, experiential learning working in our programs.
- Upside-Down Missionary Training: Graffiti 2 led the effort of providing training and experiential learning to twelve summer interns. Four worked at Graffiti 2. The other eight worked at other Graffiti sites around the city.
- Upside-Down Leadership Training: Once a month a cohort of ministry leaders met to discuss upside-down principles for life, ministry, faith, church and community. Each training session was led by a skilled practitioner within the Graffiti Network.
- Graffiti 2 is praying about beginning a new work in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx. In some ways, Hunts Point is similar to our community. However, there are some unique needs as a result of human trafficking in the Hunts Point neighborhood. In the summer of 2015, Graffiti 2 began assessing the needs of the community. This involved teams walking and praying on the streets of Hunts Point as well as engaging people in the community through a survey.
2015 Total Expenses: $362,759.58
Full-Time Staff: $224,050.55
Part-Time Staff: $27,270.08
Children, Youth, and Adult Programs: $31,020.20
Catch The Vision Celebrations: $6,784.33
Graffiti 2 Store: $6,919.40
2015 Total Revenue: $359,113.64
Staff Networks: $177,519.24–Funds raised by individual staff members from their personal networks of individuals and churches. The goal is for each staff member to find support to meet 100% of the cost of his or her employment.
Designated Program Gifts: $43,630.08–Grants, fundraisers, designated donations
Service and Sales: $28,251.02–Books, artisan items, shirts, hats, Upside-Down training fees
Church Partner Giving: $37,854.54–Churches committed to partnering with Graffiti 2 by praying, giving, and going
One-Time Church Donations: $21,306.11–Churches that give a one-time gift
Undesignated Individual Donors: $36,042.07–Individual donors who give one-time or monthly gifts
Catch the Vision Celebration: $3,951.12–Ticket sales for the 10 year anniversary celebration
Miscellaneous: $10,559.46–Federal healthcare reimbursement, Amazon Smile, other gifts
2015 Gifts: $27,362.85
Balance as of 12/31/15: $70,802.76
For a detailed copy of our 2015 reconciled financial report and 2016 budget, please send an e-mail to email@example.com
- Andrew Mann (Executive Director)–Released Upside-Down Joy in September 2015. Upside-Down Joy can be purchased through online book purveyors (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Lifeway) or bought on the Graffiti 2 Webstore; Took a sabbatical in July and August. You can read more about his sabbatical by clicking here..
- Ashley Emmert (Assistant Director)–After eight years of serving at Graffiti 2, on December 1 Ashley moved back to Texas. Pray for her as she transitions and searches for God’s next adventure.
- Josh Johnson (Youth Director) and Kerri Johnson (Graffiti 2 Works Director)–The Johnson family continues to serve God, Graffiti 2, and our neighborhood through their work and incarnational living. Paige attends an academically rigorous high school and is already taking college courses. Noah is actively involved in both music and sports.
- Jesse Medlock (Facilities and Resource Manager)–On January 1 Jess began a new ministry called Footlights. He is following his calling to minister to individuals in the theater district. Although he will no longer be working at Graffiti 2 during the week, he will continue to serve and lead at Graffiti 2 Baptist Church. Learn more about his ministry by visiting footlights.myfreesites.net
- Jacob Chilton (Children’s Director)–Jacob and his wife LeeAnn gave birth to a new baby boy named Keegan. Jacob is currently in his second and final year of Upside-Down Leadership Training. Pray for him and his family as they consider their next steps.
- Mildred Marin (Office Manager)–Mildred has continued serving in her part-time role as Office Manager. In addition, she is on the Graffiti 2 Baptist Church Leadership Team. On Thursday nights, she takes great pleasure in cooking and serving the meal for Thursday Nights Together (TNT).
- Steve Smiley (Partnership Coordinator)–Steve, Lori, Nathan, and Samuel continue to live and serve missionally in our community. Nathan and Samuel are active in the G.S.A.L.T. program. Lori coordinates the targeted tutoring program for Graffiti 2. Paige interned with Graffiti 2 this summer and attends Union University. Scott graduated from Belmont and is transitioning to employment.
- Proof (Missionary Dog)–Released Proof God Exists an illustrated, children’s story book. Learn more about it by visiting proofgodexists.nyc; Turned 11 years old on November 4
- As we dreamed this past year about securing a long-term, sustainable place of ministry, it is clear that God was at work. In December the Congregation of Yahweh (our landlord) opened the door for us to continue to use the space at 335 Beekman Avenue. As we look ahead, we are seeking to negotiate a long-term arrangement (either renting or purchasing). Part of this arrangement will include renovating the floors above. Pray for wisdom for both parties as we negotiate. Also, be prepared . . .we are going to need help with the construction!