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,
We still have two months before winter officially departs and spring arrives. Are you looking for something to do to chase away the winter doldrums? This issue of Beyond the Bricks is packed with learning and serving.
There are opportunities to hear a lecture, join a community discussion, and watch a play. You'll find a place where you can donate your used furniture, and a place where you can spend the night in your car. You'll discover where to volunteer to read to children, and where to become involved on Bloomington's West side. This issue contains much for you!  
Take a look!
Grace and peace,
Jim Warren
Donate to Recycling Furniture for Families   
515 N. Center Street
Bloomington, IL  61701
A note from RF4F:   
The families and individuals who use our services to get back on their feet need the furnishings that make new surroundings feel like a home.   We take basic household items that are in usable condition, except large appliances. Our greatest items of need are key furniture pieces, such as bed frames, end tables , dressers, coffee tables , and kitchen/small dining tables.
Schedule a free pick-up: 309-829-6500
In addition, eating utensils and lamps are always in high demand.
   Please visit for a complete list of items we can accept. You can also support our operations financially by giving at or by check.
Join the The Second BloNo Interfaith Green Team Gathering   
Thursday, January 23, 2020
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church
2000 E. College Avenue
Normal, IL  61761
Welcome members of Faith Communities in the Bloomington/Normal area. Feel free to invite others you know who might be interested.  No meal will be provided this time. Refreshments provided but we will get right down to business.
We will continue to explore common goals and collaboration for Creation Care or better Stewardship of Creation.
Attend, "A Community in Conversation," Sponsored by Not in Our Town, Bloomington, and the McLean County Museum of History   
Various Locations, Dates, and Times (see below)    
 Inspired by the Museum's newest exhibit, Challenges, Choices, and Change: A Community in Conflict, this four-part program will provide opportunities for community conversation, highlighting the historic and modern significance of four  questions featured in the exhibit -- asking always,  "Who has the power?"

The programs:
Who Has the Power to Choose Their Work?
Tuesday, January 28 at 6:45 p.m. at the  McLean County Museum of History Governor Fifer Courtroom

  Who Has the Power to Get an Equal Education?
Thursday, February 27 at 4:00 p.m. at Heartland Community College,  1500 W. Raab Rd., Normal
  Who Has the Power to be Heard?
Saturday, March 21 at 12:00 p.m. at the YWCA,  1201 N. Hershey Rd., Bloomington
  Who Has the Power to Define Morality?
Tuesday, April 28 at 6:45 p.m at the  McLean County Museum of History Governor Fifer Courtroom
Attend #Friends2Seniors in McLean County
Tuesday, January 28
6:00 p.m.
The Village at Mercy Creek
1501 Mercy Creek Dr.
Normal, IL 61761

 The Village at Mercy Creek is excited to host a new kind of fellowship opportunity for pastoral care team members who work with older adults!  Come and expand your knowledge about senior issues, network with other in the community, and discover local resource that help adults age with dignity and grace.   
Guest speaker Jane Edge, RN, BSW, is a longtime Bloomington-Normal resident.  She will share insight about meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those you serve.  Jana is recognized for pioneering the first parish nurse program south of Chicago and has received any area awards.
More information and to RSVP by January 23, call 309-268-1402 or email
Attend #ShePERSISTED:  A Festival of Staged Readings  
Presented by Coalescence Theatre Project   

Friday, January 31  7:30 p.m.
Perfectly Normal -
By Karen Cecilia - Directed by Kat Gregory
Sunday, February 2  2:30 p.m.
Black Like Us -
By Rachel Atkins - Directed by Elaine Hill
Sunday, February 2  7:30 p.m.
Parts & Pieces -
By Amy Tofte - Directed by Tabitha Miller

Location: BCPA at 600 N. East Street, Bloomington, IL 61701
Each performance $10, general admission
Coalescence Theatre Project #ShePERSISTED New Play Festival curators, Rachel Hettrick and Ann Haugo have made their final selections for the festival to be held at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts on January 31 and February 2. Out of 256 scripts submitted from across the country, the plays chosen are a sampling of some of the incredible works that are being written by talented women, trans, femme, and non-binary playwrights from around the world.
The plays selected will present the Bloomington-Normal audience with three different points of view on what it means to be a family. The #ShePERSISTED Festival allows the audience an opportunity to not only experience these exceptional plays but also provide feedback to the playwrights in a talk back after each performance.
More information:
Phone: 309-434-2777
Toll-free 866-686-9541
At BCPA Box Office: Monday - Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Attend BCAI's Fully Defend Yourself Conference  
Saturday, February 1
8:00 to 10:00 a.m. (Specific to Professionals and Students)
1:00 to 5:30 p.m. (Full Community Conference for Ages 7 to Adult)
State Farm Hall of Business
ISU campus
Bloomington, IL 61702
BCAI School of Arts:  Fully Defend Yourself 
A free community conference educating in easily overlooked ways to defend yourself and your family.  
Dr. Rosenna Bakari will be joining us as keynote and interactive lecturer on the subject of "holistic and effective parenting from family and social work perspectives"


Altogether, this year's sessions include:
    • Dr. Bakari's keynote 
    • Intellectual property rights
    • Physical anti-abduction techniques for self, family, and friends
    • Food security: healthy eating with tight budgets and difficult eaters
As always, supplies, food, snacks, yoga, and chair massages are complimentary - YES, chair massages - from some of the finest massage therapists in the area.  Why? Because every conference should end with a massage!
Experience an Elegant Night at the Mansion to Benefit MCCA  
Saturday, February 1
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
701 E. Taylor Street
Bloomington, IL  61701
$75 per ticket
Join us and experience all the quiet old world charm and elegance of this Italianate-style mansion as we raise funds for Mid Central Community Action which supports Neville House and Mayors Manor. Relax in the parlor with a glass of wine or beer and hors d'oeuvres catered by Baxters American Grille.

Included In Your Ticket:
    • Hors d'oeuvres
    • 2 Drink Tickets (additional drink tickets can be purchased at event)
    • 1 Entry for a Mystery Gift Raffle provided by Refine 309
Attendees can look forward to taking a chance to win our Romance Package that includes a night stay at the Vrooman Mansion and many other luxuries.

Raffle Ticket Prices:
  • $10 - 1 Ticket
  • $25 - 3 Tickets
  • $75 - 10 Tickets
Experience "Night in a Car"  
Friday, February 7
7:00 p.m.
Trinity Lutheran Church
801 S. Madison Street
Bloomington, IL  61701
How would you manage if you had to spend a winter night in your car? 
On February 7, you and dozens of others can experience homelessness on a small scale at Home Sweet Home Ministries' Night in a Car event, to be held at Trinity Lutheran Church's parking lot. 
Last February 50 people, representing 12 area churches, hunkered down to gain an appreciation for the plight of individuals who are homeless.  Those who participated gained valuable insights into homelessness and raised funds for the services provided by Home Sweet Home Ministries while doing so.
This is an opportunity to learn about neighbors who do not have a warm bed to sleep in on cold winter nights. Last year Home Sweet Home Ministries provided 18,000 nights of safe shelter to 287 men, women, and children who had nowhere else to stay.  We provided 87,000 meals to our shelter residents and community members.  450 households accessed our Bread for Life Food Co-op.  Night in a Car supports all of these services.  Our goal for Night in a Car 2020 is to raise $125,000.  We are challenging participants to raise $1,000 per car. 
Please consider being a participant for this year's Home Sweet Home Ministries' Night in a Car 2020. You can sign up at or send an email with questions to:
LeeAnn Kiper
Home Sweet Home Ministries 
Phone: (309) 319-2839

Join with Welcoming America to Support New Neighbors 
Bloomington-Normal, IL, Area and Beyond
Welcoming America provides direction and support to communities to become more inclusive toward immigrants and all residents. Launched in 2009, Welcoming America is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that fosters a culture and policy environment to make it possible for newcomers of all backgrounds to feel valued and to fully participate alongside their neighbors in the social, civic, and economic fabric of their adopted hometowns. Its approach goes beyond a single program or service to work with institutions across the community to reduce the barriers that immigrants face to fully participate and build bridges between newcomers and long-time residents.

To get involved, contact Kris Williams at 
Attend the IF:Gathering 2020 at College Park Christian Church  
February 7 from 5:30 to 10:00 p.m.
February 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
College Park Christian Church
116 N. Cottage Avenue
Normal, IL 61761
About the gathering: 
At IF:Gathering 2020, we are going to focus completely, entirely on the person of Jesus. That is it. This is our hope and we need hope.

Across the earth, across every different country and nation, let's come together for two days and ignore our feeds and ignore all the noise and ignore the chaos inside of us and listen to the word of God taught.

The world is spinning out like crazy and so are the insides of us, and we need the thing that is going to steady us.

We're not in this to grow IF:Gathering, we are in this to grow the kingdom of God. We don't want you to miss it as we study Romans 8 this year! Let's stand back and watch what God is going to do.
Volunteer as a Reader as Part of the Grandparents are Gifts Program at the Boys & Girls Club 
Now through May 15, 2020
4:00 p.m through 5:00 p.m.
Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal
Bloomington and Normal, IL
We are looking for volunteers for our Grandparents are Gifts program, a small group reading program at the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal.  Come as often as you like.  To get involved, contact Jenny Hall at or by calling 309-829-3034 x109.
Volunteer at or Donate to the WBRP  
(West Bloomington Revitalization Project)
724 W. Washington Street
Bloomington, IL  61701
Whether it's repairing tools, painting, assisting with the Bike Co-op or riding the Book Bike to community events, we have something for every volunteer. Stop by during our hours (below) to get more information or to sign up. You can also email for more info.

Monday: 10:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.; 5:00-7:00 p.m.
              (Bike Co-op open 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.)
Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.; 5:00-7:00 p.m.
*Thursday: 2:00-7:00 p.m.
*Saturday: 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
               (Bike Co-op open 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.)

                              *need extra help these days
Make a one-time or monthly donation that will help keep the WBRP programs thriving.  Donate Online
Around the Community
First Christian Church || 309 829-9327  |
401 West Jefferson St.  Bloomington, IL  61701
Bloomington's Oldest Continuing Congregation
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