January 2017


Reciprocity: Mutually Beneficial


Selma Communities of Transformation's Christmas gathering included a nativity play

When COT Coordinator Laurel Blackwell talks about what it means to be a part of Communities of Transformation, she often mentions the importance of reciprocity. Reciprocity occurs when both parties in a relationship receive benefits from the relationship. In the case of COT, volunteers and participants learn from and encourage each other and all contribute to the success of each COT site.       
Reciprocity occurs in many ways, as demonstrated in December when volunteers and participants celebrated Christmas together. At different sites throughout the ministry, members of the COT family shared food, fellowship, games, music and more.

Selma COT Coordinator Dorothy Fitts said that they thought there was not much they could do to top their 2015 Christmas celebration, but then the unexpected happened. The "Originals," referring to the first class of participants in Selma COT, lead by volunteer Lynn Tiller, presented the Christmas story in a new way, in a new place, with new characters, and the presence of the Living Christ was felt. Rev. George Bennett, Sidney Fitts and LaKayla Wilkes narrated the story. Dorothy said, "The highlight of the evening was LaKayla, backed by Gene Henderson, singing 'Mary Did You Know.' After a brief overview of the true meaning of Christmas, Rev. Steve Kopp ended the night with Holy Communion served from the manger."


Activities at the Phenix City Christmas party included building gingerbread houses, right, and singing Christmas songs, below.



Everyone enjoyed the COT Christmas party at Evergreen Presbyterian Church in Dothan. Above, l-r, Andy, Jose, Ray, Mary Kate, Safari and Les played a fun game, which Jose won. Left, l-r, Zayden, Rosaland and Donna at the piano.



Montgomery COT Sets March Launch Goal!


Pastors and community leaders of the Montgomery COT Launch Team met at Aldersgate UMC January 17 to prepare for a COT initiative in Montgomery. A target launch date in March is planned. Pictured from left to right are Peggy Spaeth, Rev. Jackie Slaughter, Clare Watson, Rev. Richard Carter, Rev. Ashley Davis, Rev. William Larkin, Jennifer Lancaster, Beth Biggs, Rev. Michael Cobb, Dennis Charlesworth, and Rev. Brian Miller. Others present at the meeting were Rev. Nancy Pugh and Rev. Mark Osgood.
In preparation for the launch, a community book study of "When Helping Hurts"  will be held at Whitfield Memorial United Methodist Church, 2673 Fisk Road in Montgomery on Sundays from 5-6 pm, from Feb. 12-March 26. Call Jennifer Lancaster at 334-590-5005, or email her at, to register or for more information!


Phenix City Celebrates Shirley Key



Tuesday, December 6 was a day to celebrate! Shirley Key was the sole member of Class 2 of Phenix City Communities of Transformation to finish her training and set her SMART goals. She received a certificate of completion for her first phase of COT, the "Awaken" curriculum. She began meeting with her circle of support the next week, and together they continue to provide support and encouragement for each other as they work toward their goals. In Phenix City, we ask all participants and volunteers to set goals. We think that all of us have something to improve on in our lives.

Class 3 for participants and volunteers will begin February 7.

Submitted by Ruth Ann Powers, COT AmeriCorps VISTA


Fairhope Study Sparks Interest in COT



A group of 20 compassionate Christian leaders from United Methodist Churches and faith-based organizations in Baldwin County recently completed a study of "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor… and Yourself" by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. The study was held on Sunday evenings, Oct. 2 through Nov. 6 at Fairhope United Methodist Church and included participants from Robertsdale United Methodist Church, Loxley United Methodist Church, and Orange Beach United Methodist Church, Catholic Social Services, Ecumenical Ministries, and Baldwin County Habitat for Humanity.

Participants enjoyed refreshments, getting to know each other, sharing insights from their reading and praying together. Each week featured a different guest facilitator who shared how the book related to their ministry, lessons learned from their past experience, and changes they hope to make in their approach to poverty alleviation based on new insights from the book. One of the most powerful paradigm shifts that resulted was the awareness that all people have God-given assets, abilities and gifts, regardless of their economic state.

Guest facilitators were: Ms. Sally Dean, executive director of Ecumenical Ministries; Ms. Phyllis Beam, executive director of Baldwin County Catholic Social Services; Ms. Sandy Folan, executive director for Baldwin County Habitat for Humanity; Dr. Darren McClellan, Baypines district superintendent of the United Methodist Church; Dr. Ed Glaize, senior pastor of Fairhope United Methodist Church; Rev. Sean Peters, pastor of Robertsdale United Methodist Church and Rev. Alecia  Glaize, Communities of Transformation Coordinator for Baldwin County.

As a result of the book study, many of the participants expressed interest in working to start one or more Communities of Transformation sites in Baldwin County within the next year. Participants were encouraged to pray for God’s direction in this process.

Communities of Transformation is a faith-based initiative that helps break the cycle of poverty by surrounding families who want to build a better future with friends who commit to long-term, encouraging (but not enabling) relationships.

For more information about Communities of Transformation visit the website: You may also contact Rev. Alecia Glaize, Communities of Transformation Coordinator for Baldwin County, AL at; 251-236-1108.

Submitted by Alecia Glaize, COT AmeriCorps VISTA


February Events

All meetings 5:30-8:00 p.m. Central time unless otherwise noted. Please check the website Events page for locations.


February   7 Leadership Team Meeting at noon
February   7 Meeting
February 14 Meeting
February 21 Meeting
February 28 Meeting


February   7 Meeting
February 14 No Meeting
February  21 Meeting
February  28 Meeting


February   6 Meeting
February 13 Meeting
February 20 Meeting
February 27 Meeting


February   2 Meeting
February   9 Meeting
February  16 Meeting
February 23 No Meeting


February 12 Community Book Study 5:00-6:00 p.m.
February 19 Community Book Study 5:00-6:00 p.m.
February 26 Community Book Study 5:00-6:00 p.m.

Phenix City (all times Eastern)

February   7 Meeting
February 14 Meeting
February 21 Meeting
February 28 Meeting


February   6 Meeting
February 13 Meeting
February 20 Meeting
February 27 Meeting

Want more?

Contact us

Laurel Akin
Communications Coordinator
Phone: 334-300-2098
Email Us

Laurel and Fred Blackwell
COT Coordinators
Phone: 334-524-3652
Email Us

Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.