Author Archives: nicoledenman

Can You Be a Mentor?

Francine MarchelleMeet Francine Marchelle, Director of Broad Street Afterschool.  Francine spoke in worship last weekend and shared her expertise, enthusiasm and vision for BSA during a Minute for Mission.  Below, she talks about the effect of a mentor in her own life, as well as her hopes for Broad Street Afterschool.

Francine was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio.  She remembers being mentored by her fifth grade teacher, Elaine Pearson.  Ms. Pearson’s interest and care nurtured resiliency and hope in Francine during a period when she needed those gifts.   Decades later, she still recalls Ms. Pearson going the extra mile to show her a different world, including bringing her to a Columbus Orchestra performance of “Peter Pan,” which helped her see herself as an artist with talents to share.  Francine knows firsthand what a difference a mentor can make; how the kindness and coaching of a mentor can convey new life.  Francine’s own experience fuels her commitment to the children and families in Broad Street Afterschool.

Francine expands on her Minute for Mission by responding to a few questions:

How does mentoring benefit kids?
First and foremost, mentoring benefits kids by enabling them to identify new ways to live and think and feel.  Mentoring gives them an experience of a different perspective, a different way to be in the world.  Mentoring models opportunity and establishes a support system.  Kids can ask questions, share concerns and interests with an adult who is not their parent or guardian.

Mr. Ken and MylesHow does mentoring benefit mentors?
We learn from children  how to mentor them.  We participate in the growth and development of children.  Mentoring is an expression of intergenerational learning.  We’re learning, too.  We’re figuring things out.  Mentoring gives us an opportunity to value what we bring to that child.  Often we don’t realize the importance of what we have to offer.  BSA will allow us mentors (coaches and tutors) opportunity to develop a reciprocal relationship with a child.

What is changing at Broad Street Afterschool?
This fall we are moving from homework help to homework coaching.  For example, with coaching the interaction between the child and adult can shift from a conversation only about how to solve 4 + 4 to include the reasons we are doing math. Also, we can coach children to make homework completion a habit of learning.

BSAWhat is one of your goals for Broad Street Afterschool?
We want to reset the bar and encourage more engagement between student and adult.  I will coach our homework coaches.  BSA has always looked at the child holistically.  We want to take this to a deeper level with the goal of children achieving their highest possible level of education.  When children have trouble with schoolwork I always encourage them to say “I am not dumb.  I am smart.  I just don’t know something yet.”

To learn more about being a mentor (homework coach and tutor), call or email Francine at  A training will be held on September 1, 2, and 3, 5:00-7:30 pm, with interested volunteers attending two days. Those interested will be asked to fill out this application.


To Be Grateful

I came across this piece of writing from Henri Nouwen this morning, a few days after finishing last Sunday’s sermon.  It seemed so relevant to what I hoped I was saying when I was preaching “Leftovers.”   Nouwen invites us to be grateful for all of our lives, including those parts of our life that are filled with sorrow, failure and rejection because all of our lives has made us the people we are and brought us to this present moment.

To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy,
but to be grateful for all of our lives-
the good as well as the bad,
the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow,
the successes as well as the failures,
the rewards as well as the rejections-
that requires hard spiritual work.

Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say “thank you”
to all that has brought us to the present moment.
As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget,
we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.
Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now
and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.

-Henri J. M. Nouwen

Today I invite you to give thanks to God for everything that has brought you to where you are now.


Why Ride?

Tomorrow some Broadstreeters will be riding 25, 50, 75 or even 100 miles in Pelotonia.  Others riding 155 and 180 miles will spend Saturday night at Kenyon College and continue the second portion of the ride on Sunday.  The latter won’t be in worship with us on Sunday.  But they will be involved in a spiritual practice.  This week I asked a few of them “why?” Why are you riding this year?

Susan says, “…Cancer just seems to be everywhere, impacting everybody. In the last months I have witnessed one friend lose her fight with cancer, another end her treatment, and yet another begin hers… Being in the presence of those struggling with cancer, I have witnessed unbelievable courage, resilience, faith, and inimitable strength which have influenced my own resolve to do what I can in this fight. So …riding my bicycle 50 miles…and raising $1250 to support the researchers who stand a chance to find cures, seems the least I can do.”
Rick says, “My children.
My wife.
My parents.
My community.
Riding by this husband @ mile #80 something.
Cancer’s life needs to end.”

Sean says, “…the cause is near and dear to my heart…grandmothers, grandfather, and close family friends have all been affected by cancer in some form or another…the combination of the personal physical challenge, the camaraderie with my family and friends who are also participating and the cause all became important components and motivators. Additionally – I quickly came to [consider] the long rides with my Dad out in the Ohio countryside …a version of sacred space.”

Jim says, “… for the past three years I have ridden and was inspired to ride as a tribute to my wife who is a Cancer survivor.  …[D]ue to health concerns and a failure to get sufficiently in shape, I have opted to be a “virtual rider” and let my supporters know that I will not be on the road…  I will be praying for an uneventful ride once again this Saturday/Sunday; patience for those drivers who may be inconvenienced for a few minutes to allow for the safety of the bike riders; for those researchers who will benefit from the funds raised; for each of those who has suffered, is suffering, or has lost the battle with cancer; and for an increased awareness of the public of the need to support medical research…”

Ginny says, “It is hard to sum up my reasons and emotions for Pelotonia…I can tell you I have big tears in my eyes right now just thinking about it!  Pelotonia is one of the greatest things I have ever been a part of …to fundraise, train and complete something that makes such a difference in research and healing and curing…is amazing!  …Imagine bikers as far as you can see in quiet motion, just the sound of the whizzing tires, starting down High Street as the day is …waking up…People line the streets all along the way cheering, holding up signs: “Thank you for helping to save my Mommy.”  …It’s not just the riders that count! There are so many volunteers and supporters financially and physically who make up this huge effort!  It is such an honor and thrill to participate. I hope I am able to do it for many years to come.”

Carol says “I want to be part of a community with one goal…. Beating cancer!!! I hope this ride will give hope to those in need of a cure.”

Bill says: “I am convinced that one of God’s miracles to us daily is the wonder of research like that being done to crack the code on cancer – in all of its mutations.  It touches us all and I have felt it.  I ride because we have created something in Columbus that allows us to put a shining light on those miracles.  And I ride for some very special people to my wife and me.”

In its first six rides, Pelotonia raised more than $82 million for cancer research.  Tomorrow and Sunday, let’s keep the riders in our prayers, and all cancer survivors…as well as those struggling with cancer today.

Thanks be to God for each and every person giving their time, energy, money and prayers to our community’s Pelotonia effort to ‘crack the code’ on cancer.



“Earth is forgiveness school. I believe that’s why they brought us here, then left us without any owner’s manual.”  ~Anne Lamott

This fall we will be delving deeply into the theme of “Anger and Forgiveness.”  This topic will shape teaching and preaching in late September and October. In preparation for this series I was reading Anne Lamott, an author who writes often about the challenges and importance of forgiveness. Here are some things that she said on the topic in an interview with

“Forgiveness has become a pursuit more important to me than almost anything. Because.. it’s not my strong suit. I always joke that I wasn’t one of those Christians who was heavily into forgiveness – that I was the other kind…  But it’s so awful to be a person who doesn’t forgive…

…To forgive someone is the hardest work we do. I’ve had to be disciplined about it. Like meditation or in my spiritual journey, or exercise – hiking…  You never want to do any hard work – you just want to watch MSNBC and eat miniature Kit-Kats. Believe me, that’s what I’d prefer to do.  [But,] not forgiving makes you toxic. And then you really have very little to offer your family or the world or your audience, because you’re faking it.

[I often write]… about that predicament of that clenched, clutched feeling when we don’t forgive. And then that miracle of grace, like a spiritual WD-40, that gets into the very stuck, grinding places inside of us…

The more public I am, the more people I talk to, the more I realize that I’d been comparing my insides to people’s outsides. And people’s insides are all the same amount of screwed-up-idness … People are very hurt, they’re very scared for their families, they’re keening deep down for what happened to them as children. Sometimes with truly awful families, sometimes with a culture that only values beauty or fitting in … And people who were shunned by their families because of fundamentalism or because of who they loved. I find out everybody’s in the same boat. …People feel troubled and sad and overwhelmed by the amount of pain they’re carrying…

We’re all angry, no matter how sweet or Buddhist or Christian or tender-hearted we appear. We’re all angry. And we’ve got to deal with it at some point. And dealing with the grief and the anger and the lack of forgiveness is the way home.”

This fall we will be exploring more deeply the challenges and opportunities of forgiveness. Our series, Anger and Forgiveness in the Digital Age, will shape preaching and teaching in Palmer Hall  on September 27, October 4, and October 11.

How An Electric Bill Can Change A Life

“I can’t believe an electric bill changed my life”

How can an electric bill possibly change someone’s life?  Brandon Duncan claims just that, because it was a bill that first brought him to COMPASS’ Hand Up Program.

In May, many of us heard from Brandon in a Minute for Mission during worship and also in a class called “The Best Kept Secret – Single Black Fathers,” all part of COMPASS’ “HisStory” emphasis.

Now we hear from Brandon a third time, about how this single custodial father, who is raising his two children as a lone parent, is finding full time employment.  It is a story of hope, determination and mentorship.

Enter Norman Deena, spouse of COMPASS Director Fredericka Wallace-Deena.  Norman works for Community Housing Network (CHN).  CHN develops, owns and manages housing across Franklin County, renting affordable apartments to people disabled by mental illness, substance addictions and histories of homelessness.

Norman had encouraged Brandon to find full time work.  But Brandon had a stumbling block – he had a felony on his record, which essentially made him a permanent temporary worker.  But Hand Up doesn’t give up.  Rather, it replaces words like “entitlement” and “dependency” with the expectation that participants be the first investors in their own lives.

Norman participated in that mission by going the extra mile.  He took Brandon’s resume in to CHN and vouched for him.

What joy they experienced, when, after several interviews, Brandon was hired as a Community Housing Coordinator!

Brandon’s new job starts August 3.  He looks forward to working 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.  For the first time he will be able to put his daughter and son on the school bus in the morning and greet them before dark.

Sometimes in life we encounter obstacles, big immoveable things, like a felony in one’s past.  That is one truth.  But there is a larger, bigger truth; “With God, all things are possible.”

Brandon says, “I can’t believe an electric bill changed my life … Norman gave me a chance, not just for a job, but for a career.”  Thanks be to God for a place like COMPASS’s Hand Up program, a mentor named Norman, and a persistent father named Brandon.


Take Us With You! 5 Compelling Summer Podcasts from Broad Street

BSPC staff member Nicole Denman, Director of Communications, offers this week’s evotional, written as part of a project for a class called “Content Strategy for Professionals: Expanding Your Content’s Impact and Reach.”

Ever since Brittany and I led the winter Adult Education class, Understanding Social Media, then again when we introduced Broad Street Listens, people have asked us, “What are your favorite podcasts?” So we decided to share what we listen to, and why it’s on our subscription list.

1. This American Life
Who Listens: Amy & Brittany
Why: A staple on NPR since 1996, This American Life is the most popular podcast in the country, with around one million people downloading each episode. Each week, experimental logic and journalist integrity open up a different theme.  Their recent piece on The Birds and the Bees discussed how to talk to children about sex and sexual assault.  A great piece for parents, grandparents, and others who have children they care about, this podcast not only makes us think, but gives conversations starters for those talks we really should have.  We suggest you listen to the podcast alone, and then discuss with your child, as some parts may be too mature for all audiences.

2. TED Radio Hour
Who Listens: Amy, Ann, Nicole
Why: We know and love TED talks, and this NPR production is promoted as “a journey through fascinating ideas: astonishing inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, new ways to think and create.” It’s based on the famous TED Talks with a common theme.  One I love and share is Animals and Us, discussing our complicated relationship with animals.  Whether you are an animal lover or just watch cat videos on YouTube, you can’t deny pets have become a part of our lives.

3. Invisibilia
Who Listens: Amy & Brittany
Why:  Just a few months old, Invisibilia (Latin for “all the invisible things”) explores the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. A must listen is The Secret History of Thoughts which discusses the inner workings of dark thoughts and what they really mean. This podcast can help with the understanding of others, as the man in the first part of the piece suffers from Harm OCD, making the audience question if a man who is obsessed with harming his loved ones is actually more moral than those who don’t have this condition.

4. On Being
Who Listens: Amy & Brittany
Why: This Peabody Award-winning podcast discusses many of the questions about being a human in the 21st-century.  We suggest the April 2, 2015 show with Father Greg Boyle, The Calling of Delight: Gangs, Service, and Kinship as he discusses what it means for those looking for a second chance. It may challenge your opinion about gang members and whether they can become functioning members of society.

5. Story Corps
Who Listens: Ann, Nicole
Why: Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews with more than 100,000 participants, which are preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The podcasts focus on one or two interviews with a similar theme.  For instance, on the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombings, two young adults, some of the few survivors from the nursery, spoke about how something that happened when they were so young affected their lives forever.

Regardless of your preferences, there are dozens of podcasts available.  This is a great place to start …don’t be afraid to branch out and find one that speaks to you.


Happy are They Who Lead from the Back Pews

Brittany Porch recently share this blog post with me that does a lovely job of capturing some important things about church life.


Blessed are those whose names are unknown.

The voiceless ones

who were quiet, so their stories were never heard;
who were overwhelmed, so they couldn’t find the words;
who felt like others had more important songs to sing;
who shared their stories in less-public arenas.

Blessed are those who showed up.

The ones who did the countless behind-the-scenes work

who made the coffee and baked the cookies;
who folded the bulletins and served as ushers;
who stuffed envelopes and licked stamps;
and did all the other Martha chores
that those in the spotlight never even knew about.

Blessed are those who remained in the shadows.

Those who just couldn’t…

who lived in insurmountable unsafe places;
whose closet doors were nailed shut;
who yearned to live in the light;
who were isolated;
whose participation was a financial contribution
…or a prayer.

Blessed are those who moved on.

Those who needed to be elsewhere

who were battered by the church;
in order to survive;
in order to more fully live;
so that they could find happiness.

Blessed are those who died on the journey.

Those who we knew
and those who we never got a chance to know.

And blessed are YOU.

Those who come next

the leaders (and the followers)
of this generation and beyond,
who find the next liberations
and who work for them to become reality.


Peru Team Visits Joining Hands Against Hunger

We had an another amazing day of Peruvian culture in Lima. We were able to visit the Joining Hands Against Huger headquarters office. We heard from Kyle, the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) serving this year there about his work with the local artisan groups and their fair trade products.   Fair Trade allows for the artisans to ask for fair wages and work treatment and allows them to make money, unlike some of the other markets. We were able to shop there and many llamas, scarves, and bracelets are coming home with us. It was meaningful to think about how our shopping directly impacts the artisans living around Peru.  You can check out their projects at!!

In the afternoon, we went to Brisas de Titicaca  for lunch and a local Peruvian dance show. This was amazing, and we even got to see the national champions for one dance. In between, we got to try out Peruvian dance moves and hit the floor. We aren’t modest, which made it an fun afternoon of laughter. We were filled and inspired by the beauty of this country and its people.

Peru (8) Peru (10) Peru (9)Today, one of us is headed back stateside to get back to work, while 11 of us traveled to Cusco at 11,000 feet to see Machu Picchu tomorrow, and 2 of us went with mission co-workers Jenny and Jed to Moyobamba to learn more about the mission work happening in the jungle region. Splitting up wasn’t easy, because after one short week, we are already a family!

Peru (6)

The work is hard, the laughs are harder, and our time together experiencing God’s diverse world is filling the team with joy and hope.

Until next time, love for your Peru team!

Peru Team on the Last Night At the Shelter

On our last night at the shelter, the staff and girls hosted a farewell party for us. After three days of sharing and laughter at lunch time with the girls, the fiesta was the perfect way to celebrate our time together and the connection we have throughout faith in God.

Peru (11)The night was filled with dancing, songs and lots of smiles and laughter. Similar to a talent show, the girls performed, taught us songs and dances, and gave us handmade cards – all of which expressed the friendship we developed during the week. To cap off the joy filled night we each had the opportunity to pray individually with a small group of girls. All the girls expressed how grateful they were for our hard work and presence at the shelter, but little do they know we are also the grateful ones. Every connection this week has brought each one of us closer to God and this special experiences has opened our eyes to so much. After a quick dance party that included a song from Grease, we said our thank you’s and goodbyes with full hearts. Eternally thankful for such a special week, in such a sacred place.

Rebecca Howson & Lizzy (“Lucy”) Chester on behalf of the Peru team

Peru Team in Huanuco

Arrived safely back in Lima. Some reflections and updates from our time at the shelter in Huanuco…

In short – we had FULL days of work balanced in near perfect harmony with community building, fellowship and love.

It all began with the unloading trucks of sand and rocks. We dug holes, placed boards, carried buckets of concrete in our now lovingly named “bucket brigade.” We secured a chain link fence to reinforce a vulnerable side of the property. And the painting crew tackled nearly three rooms!
Peru (2) Peru (3) Peru (1)
Now onto the soon to be volleyball/basketball/soccer court – the rocks, oh the rocks! With the highly anticipated arrival of the tractor we were able to clear the area and begin laying the rock foundation. Quickly forming an efficient assembly line  methodology – the teamwork was unmatched.

Every day closed with cold showers, warm meals, meaningful reflection and hearty laughter.
Peru (4)
We had the loveliest of hosts at the farmhouse. The staff, girls and women of the shelter were as gracious and welcoming as ever. Last nights party with the girls (and 2 young boys) was just what the doctor ordered as we were blessed with the opportunity to celebrate our time together and the bounty of Gods grace and love for us all.  Many tears were shared this morning as we said our farewells.

More reflections to come…

Warmest regards,
Kim & Kate Wilson
The Peru Team