Archive for the ‘News event’ Category

Celebrating the Possible

March 18, 2014

2014-02-14 11.25.42

Is it possible for a stadium redevelopment project to truly benefit the urban neighborhood in which it resides? This question is burning in the hearts and minds of residents who live near Orlando Florida’s Citrus Bowl.

In 2013, hundreds of them participated in a survey that assessed their interest in being a part of the next generation of the Bowl’s history. In short, they are very interested. The survey revealed eight key ideas for initiatives that residents believe will improve quality of life in the neighborhood. Nearly 200 residents are signed-up to be involved in specific initiatives and about 40 residents have emerged to help lead the way.

Steve Hogan, the CEO of Florida Citrus Sports (FCS), has expressed his commitment to work with the community. FCS is a non-profit that has been using the proceeds of its events to benefit children in the region for decades. Now, as the new stadium becomes a reality, they want to work with the neighborhood in which the stadium resides to focus this positive impact while still creating opportunities for children throughout the area.

Steve is part of a larger group of business leaders now known as LIFT Orlando who are making the same promise – to partner with residents to improve quality of life in the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the stadium.

One of the last events held at the stadium before much of it was demolished was a Family Fun Day. Residents were invited out to be the first to see the results of the survey and to hear Steve Hogan’s pledge to meet the neighborhood half-way in order to make positive things happen. Children played and danced. Adults laughed and talked. Inspiring art work from the children depicting their hopes and dreams were on display for all to see. It truly was a celebration of what’s possible.

Now the work begins. Meetings have been taking place. Leaders are emerging. Ideas are taking shape. Here are the initiatives that are being discussed, some of which are underway.

  1. Youth Recreational Programming
  2. Neighborhood Advisory Board to Citrus Bowl
  3. Farmer’s Market
  4. Community Computer Center
  5. Walking Trail/Walking Clubs
  6. Housing Redevelopment
  7. Lake Lorna Doone Park Improvements
  8. West Downtown Business Association

If you are interested in more information or would like to be involved, please contact POLIS at If you are interested in reading the summary report distributed at the event, it is available here.

Phil Hissom

Phil Hissom is the Founder of the POLIS Insitute and the primary author of Dignity Serves. He can be reached at

Consider signing up for Dignity Serves, a six-lesson course that helps you rethink the way we serve others in our community. It teaches you to see problems differently and respond in a way that empowers those you serve rather than just meeting their immediate needs.


Johnny Cash Walked the Line on Forgiveness

June 13, 2013


By Michael Joe Murphy

Forgiveness and redemption compel my thoughts since I read  “House of Cash: The Legacies of My Father, Johnny Cash,” by his son, John Carter Cash.

Country music’s greatest outlaw was a man of steadfast faith, hungry for spiritual wisdom throughout his life.

Well-known were his friendship with evangelist Billy Graham, his love for Scriptures, and testimonies on stage and off.

Just as well known well known were Johnny Cash’s demons. His son writes that his drug addiction in the mid-1980s “prompted him to search more persistently for his own salvation.”

As a broken person, Cash practiced grace and forgiveness with extravagance. Tortured by physical pain and loneliness, he reached out to heal other people, close friends as well as complete strangers.

JohnnyCash“He felt a kinship with the Apostle Paul, having been blind and misled for so long and eventually finding salvation,” his son writes. Cash, famously known as The Man in Black, wrote a book called “Man in White” about the transformed life of the former Saul of Tarsus.

Johnny Cash never experienced Dignity Serves training. Polis Institute was founded long after his death. Yet the lessons of Dignity Serves played out time after time throughout his life.  He searched for where God was working and built relationships in those places through sharing of each others’ stories, mutual exploration and offering of assets, and acceptance of help from one another.

Cash’s powerful acts of kindness confounded many.

In New York, in the 1970s, a man on the street hurled a rock through the windshield of a stretch limousine in which Carter, his son and wife, June Carter Cash were riding. The car came to an abrupt halt. Though “tiny shards of glass exploded everywhere,” the Carters were unhurt except for a few nicks, his son writes.

Johnny Cash picked up the rock from the floorboard, and he leapt from the car to confront “a tall shirtless young man, his eyes glazed over and his face blank,” jabbering in a language they did not understand but mixed with a few words of English.

Cash held out the rock and said, “Take it.”

He refused.

Again, Carter challenged him, “Take it.”

Finally the young man reached out his hand and took the rock.

As his son writes, the young man “looked up, not seeming to recognize my father as the same person who had just handed him the rock. I saw my father bend down on one knee, and then my mother with him. As they prayed, the man closed his eyes and began to cry. … My father showed that man immediate forgiveness and tenderness. There was never a moment’s hesitation on Dad’s part once he realized the man was confused and in pain. My mother was right beside him.”

There were no iPhones and texting. There were no paparazzi. I cannot find a reference to it on the Internet. Maybe you can. The account, to my knowledge, resides only in John Carter Cash’s book. It reminds me of Les Miserables and the forgiveness about candlesticks. (Check out The Les Miserables Bishop: An Example for Us All.)

Relationship is what God seeks with us and for us. Jesus Christ is the standard for human dignity. In Him the fullness of deity dwells (Colossians 2:9) and through his death you and I – as well as Johnny Cash and the stone thrower – may be reconciled to God (Colossians 1:22).

We don’t know what happened to the man who threw the rock through the limousine window. We know what happened to Johnny Cash. And we know our own perspective, responsibility and opportunity to love other people, close to us and in our circumstances – even in the most fleeting of moments.

When justice and peace seem impossible, one person can be an agent for God’s work. You don’t have to be a famous musician to change the world.

You just have to follow Jesus.

Michael Joe Murphy

Michael Joe Murphy

Michael Joe Murphy, a volunteer for the Polis Institute, can be reached at


Consider signing up for Dignity Serves, a six-week course that helps you rethink the way we serve others in our community. It teaches you to see problems differently and respond in a way that empowers those you serve rather than just meeting their immediate needs.



Are You a ‘Have’ or a ‘Have-Not’?

September 3, 2012

By Bill Behr

The story of Anders Breivik is very sad. The mass murderer admitted to killing innocent Norwegian men, women and teenagers in a bombing-and-shooting spree in 2011. He was recently sentenced to 21 years in prison.  What brought about this great tragedy?

He justified the 77 deaths, and more than 240 injured, as necessary to prevent “Islamization.” He insisted he is sane. He feared that Norway (and all of Europe) was losing its identity to Muslims settling in his country.

Breivik radically took matters into his own hands.

How many times throughout history have we seen people persecuted or oppressed – looked down as having less value, less worth, less dignity – just because they were “different”?

The oppressors said they had a different colored skin, a different race, a different sexual orientation or maybe just lifted under a different set of rules – and these people groups could not be tolerated.  Thus, illogical and hate-filled tragedies (some call them wars) occur again and again in the name of fear, protection and control.

It is in our nature to compare ourselves to others and decide who is better. So begins the slippery slide, as we focus solely on ourselves. (“How can I get more control of my life and become better than others who have less, look better, are popular, and achieve more recognition at work?”)  This focus becomes an obsession and way of life.  It leads us to judge and segregate other people and groups, treating them as “beneath us.” These are the  “have-nots” of our society.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you know that Jesus became man and, out of unconditional love, sacrificed Himself to pay for all the sin in each of our lives.  In Jesus’ time, the Jews lived under Roman oppression.  Jesus did not condone fighting the Romans. Instead, in Matthew 5:43-45, he said,  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

Paul wrote to the Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

I am the first one to admit that I sometimes look down on others.  I compare myself to everyone. The world tells me what is pretty and what is not, who is successful and who is not, who is poor and who is not.  The world dictates that there are “haves” and “have-nots.”

“Comparison is the enemy of contentment,” my Pastor says. If you are living an anxiety-filled life of fear, sadness or loneliness: turn your focus off yourself. Then, start sharing God’s love with those you look down on. Even better, let them give back to you. (One idea: Let them pray for you.)  You will recognize their dignity when you let them serve you. And you just might discover after that, after spending time with them, they were “haves” (like us) all along.

Thank You Lord for showing us the real beauty of every person we meet. Help give us the strength to reach out and love the people (our family, our neighbors, and the marginalized) you put on our hearts.  Praise you, Father. Amen!

Bill Behr

Bill Behr is the Associate Campus Minister of Summit @ 33rd St. and can be reached at

Consider signing up for Dignity Serves, a six-week course that helps you rethink the way we serve others in our community. It teaches you to see problems differently and respond in a way that empowers those you serve rather than just meeting their immediate needs.