“The Work of Our Hands” generates energy for jobs

By wayne.steffen on June 6, 2014 @ 6:29am

"The Work of Our Hands: Transformation Through Social Business" attracted 140 participants—112 guests, 18 presenters and 10 staff/volunteers—to the May 29 event, organized by the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. Some 123 people were involved in last year's inaugural summit.

Turnout exceeded expectations. "We nearly ran out of space," said Randy White, D. Min., CCT executive director. "There was tremendous enthusiasm from churches and non-profits." In fact, about half of the 58 guests responding to a post-summit survey said they were thinking of the next steps they could take.

The summit's goal is to help faith-based agencies create jobs and other opportunities to improve the lives of people, families and neighborhoods. Among the highlights was the announcement of the second annual Faith-Centered Social Business Plan contest. Last year three organizations received cash prizes totaling $5,500 to develop their enterprises. A workshop for entrants is being planned for August, with awards to be announced in October.

Brad Smith, D.Min., was the main speaker for the summit, which took place at the seminary, located on the main campus of Fresno Pacific University. Smith has been a pastor, an aid to two U.S. Senators, a businessman, a non-profit leader and is currently president of Bakke Graduate University. Workshops addressed micro-loan programs, small-business incubation, businesses for church youth, jobs clubs and church-based social businesses.