Staying involved in the Bloomington/Normal area, and beyond. 
Where do you fit... Beyond the Bricks?
Welcome... to the latest issue of
Beyond the Bricks!
Dear Christian Friends,

A week ago today a mob descended upon the Capitol, broke through windows and doors, and for a few horrific minutes held our democracy hostage. How can we respond?

One response is to invest ourselves in our communities, in our cities, neighborhoods, churches, etc. As we make them more reflective of the loving, just, and peaceful communities God intends, we make them stronger and more resilient. We make incidents like that at the Capitol less likely to happen.

Perhaps this issue of Beyond the Bricks will suggest to you an opportunity to make Bloomington/Normal a better, more healthy community. Please take time to look over this newsletter to see what may appeal to you. As we strengthen our communities, we strengthen our nation.

Yours in Christ,
Jim Warren
Attend Black Lives Matter in B/N Book Club's Public Discussions throughout 2021!
Books Are Being Chosen Now!
Click the button below to learn more about this group.
Memorialize Your Loved One in a Bloomington Park
The Memorial Tree & Bench Program was created to give community members the opportunity to memorialize their loved ones in Bloomington parks.
A tree or a bench memorial is a wonder way to remember your loved one and benefit the whole community.

To begin the process call the Bloomington Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts department at (309) 434-2260.
Send Greetings and Encouragement to Front-Line Care Workers  

With recommended restrictions on gatherings, a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, and weather that will likely limit our opportunities to be together outside, you are encouraged to reach out with support to Carle BroMenn and Carle Eureka staff. 

Please write cards of thanks, support, or encouragement. Please do NOT deliver directly to the hospital. A container for collecting cards is in front of the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1613 E Emerson, Bloomington. Rev. Christine, Rev. Renfroe, and Terina Carter, Delegate Church Association Chair, will coordinate getting the cards where they need to be. 

If you would like to do a little more, individually wrapped treats like energy bars, drinks, dark chocolate, or coffee shop gift cards are always appreciated. Those can also be delivered to the container in front of the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Keep in mind:
  • The cards do not need to be holiday related since some may be distributed after the holidays. 
  • The cards will go to all staff.
  • The cards do not need to be individually addressed. If you would like cards to go to your Partners in Healing department, please collect everything in one bag or envelope labelled with the name of your department. 
  • Each card should be signed and include the faith community you represent. 
  • If you need ideas for what to write inside the cards, click More Info below.
Support Faith in Action by Shopping Their eBay Site
Support Faith in Action with this ongoing Fundraiser!
Follow these steps to find what is currently for sale on FIA's eBay site:

1. Go to
2. Click on the FIA eBay button on the top left of the page
3. Click on the words "Click to Shop"
Start the New Year with Meditation

A Workshop by the Bloomington Public Library 
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
7:00 p.m. Online Via Zoom

The New Year is a time to create a clean slate. Join Andrew Vidich, PhD, for this powerful workshop. Vidich inspires audience members to learn and practice this very simple meditation technique which provides many benefits. There will even be a little meditation sitting at the end. Bring joy, peace, positivity, and relaxation into your daily life and begin the New Year with a fresh start.  

Vidich is a longtime mediator, author/editor, educator, and international speaker. He is the co-founder of The Interfaith Council of New York and member of World Parliament of Religions Task Force on War, Violence and Hate Speech. He has been studying meditation for 48 years under the guidance of three world renowned meditation teachers. 

Registration for this program can be completed online at or by calling 309-590-6141. When registration is complete, the participant will receive a confirmation email which includes the link needed to join this Zoom program.
Participate in Home Sweet Home Ministries Night in a Car 2021

Friday, February 5, 2021

Home Sweet Home Ministries is charging full speed ahead with our largest fundraising event and homelessness simulation called Night In A Car. It is a great way to experience the realities of many who are forced to live out of their car through Bloomington’s harsh winters. Night in a Car has set the fund-raising goal at $100,000. This will help HSHM continue their care for their residents and the surrounding community. 
You can choose to “Drive-In” and spend the night at Trinity Lutheran Church in their parking lot or you can “Zoom-In” and join us online from the comfort of your own driveway. Challenge yourself, your family, and friends to sign up for this unique experience today! For more information, simply visit There you will see how you or your organization can support one of our teams, sponsor the event, or participate as a team yourself. 

If you have questions, contact Todd Keller at
Support the Next Step Financial Opportunity Center
by Mid Central Community Action, inc.

The Next step Financial Opportunity Center provides employment counseling, job training and placement, one-on-one financial coaching, credit counseling, and low-cost financial products that help build credit, savings, and assets.

Our Coaches also connect clients with programs such as food stamps, utility assistance, and affordable health insurance as needed.

The cornerstone of The Next Step Financial Opportunity Center is to provide these services as a bundle with a long-term commitment to helping clients reach their goals.

The Next Step Financial Opportunity Center is a partnership of Mid Central Community Action and Heartland Community College. Next Step is supported by State Farm, LISC of Greater Peoria, and NeighborWorks America.
Support the Sunnyside Community Garden and Food Forest
West Bloomington is known as a food desert because many people in the community lack access to affordable fresh vegetables. Sunnyside Community Garden and Food Forest, located at the west end of Illinois Street in Bloomington, was established May of 2016 by Col Connelly and Jan Turner to help combat this lack of access.

The mission of Sunnyside Community Garden and Food Forest is to provide fresh, organic produce to low-income families in West Bloomington and to facilitate learning opportunities for children and adults through gardening, harvesting, and marketing food grown on site, using sustainable practices.

If you would like to make an online donation to the Sunnyside Community Garden and Food Forest Fund, or to learn more about the garden and its efforts, please click on the button below.
Volunteer at or Donate to the WBRP 
(West Bloomington Revitalization Project)
724 W. Washington Street
Bloomington, IL 61701
Focus on the Tool Library:  The Tool Library is open for walk-in customers! Tool Library hours are Tuesday & Thursday 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday & Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to noon.
Because the library is a small space, and to protect our customers and volunteers, we can only allow one person to browse at a time. Make an appointment with the button below or by calling the WBRP at 309-829-1200. You can also just stop by the building during our open hours. You can check the inventory in advance at
The WBRP has many goals:
Driven by the voice of residents, the WBRP leads impactful, collaborative efforts of neighbors and local stakeholders that honor our historical and cultural roots, build on the pride and strengths of our neighborhoods and empower residents to be leaders and achieve a vision for a better community.
Maybe you can help! Find out more by clicking the button below. And the WBRP is hiring, so check out their website for details. 

First Christian Church || 309 829-9327 |
401 West Jefferson St. Bloomington, IL 61701
Bloomington's Oldest Continuing Congregation