Inside Collierville UMC, writers' group sends 'good words out into the mainstream'
Each month members of Collierville Christian Writers work on one aspect of writing, such as characters, scenes or plot. The group meets at Collierville UMC. Submitted photo
"Our Pets-Our Family, CCWriters Shorts" is an anthology of 21 tales about beloved animal companions, all written by members of Collierville Christian Writers. Some members of the grop hold copies of the book in this photo. Submitted photo
By Casey Northcutt and Susan Reichert
Creativity and inspiration thrive within the walls of Collierville UMC. For more than two years, the Collierville, TN, church has housed the Collierville Christian Writers or “CCWriters,” a group of storytellers dedicated to incorporating Christ and his message into their work.
Approximately 40 members currently meet at Collierville UMC to discuss new characters and plots, listen to guest speakers and hash out plans for future projects. Through these meetings, the group produces material written with spiritual matters in mind.
“We felt it important to be able to take the talents God has given each of us and use them with the intention of getting good words out into the mainstream,” CCWriters President Susan Reichert says.
And the group has plenty of talented members who can weave these words into heartfelt literature.
According to the group's Web site at Ccwriters2.com, the roster list includes people such as Nancy Newby Perkins, author of “I’ve Lost Lindi,” and Marolyn Ford, a Christian speaker with a worldwide ministry. Other members have published articles, devotions, novels, poetry and non-fiction, which they share with each other at Collierville UMC.
The church not only opens its doors for the writers’ monthly meetings, but it also allows these creative people to read their works through Writers Night events at its coffee shop, The Common Cup. Of course, the CCWriters also invite beginners to share these in events as well as in a creative process that, Reichert says, the group intentionally fosters.
“Our talent is diverse and we share our expertise, knowledge and ideas,” she says. “Each month a specific area in writing is chosen to work on: building characters, scenes, plots, etc.”
After two years of these writing sessions, she says the CCWriters have two trophies for their bookshelf. In 2011, they published a collection of short stories called “CCWriters Shorts, First Edition.” Then, in 2012, they produced “Our Pets—Our Family, CCWriters Shorts," an anthology of 21 tales about beloved animal companions. With these two works, members have fulfilled a large percentage of the CCWriter objective.
“One of the goals established when the group began was to work toward publication for the group as a whole and to publish our work individually,” Reichert says. “The second goal was to be active in giving back to the community by donating a portion of the books published as a group.”
The CCWriters donate a percentage of their profits to charities compatible with their chosen literary themes. The pets anthology benefits a nearby animal shelter while the original book of short stories raises funds for the local Literacy Council. After “CCWriter Shorts—First Edition” shipped to stores, Reichert says, the writers invited the director of the Literacy Council to a group meeting and presented her with an autographed copy of the book and a check for the first of the proceeds.
Yet, even though the CCWriters have accomplished two impressive feats, their work is, by no means, complete. They are currently editing a devotional book to be released soon, but in the meantime, members are penning stories for a new anthology with an ideal theme for Christ-centered storytelling—Christmas.
Anyone interested in joining the CCWriters can find information about the group's objectives and annual fees on its Web site. Interested writers must also submit a short application.
The group meets the first Thursday of every month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Collierville UMC at 454 West Poplar in Collierville. Or, after its summer hiatus, Writers Night at The Common Cup also will give interested parties a chance to see the CCWriters at work on the second Thursday of each month.
In between sips of Rwandan coffee, the writers will spout their thoughts about plots, characters and Christ while relaxing in their creative haven, Collierville UMC.