In his October column, Bishop James Swanson requested that churches share news of their outreach missions:
"It would be interesting to discover just all that our local churches are doing to extend the love of Jesus Christ outside the church walls," Swanson said.
"Please send me information on the mission activities your church sponsors – including mission trips inside and outside of Holston or the U.S.; missions directed outside your church membership; monies given to individuals, groups, or ministries outside your church; projects pursued with other churches or with coalitions or groups outside your church. (I don’t want to know how much money is given.)"
To encourage more congregations to respond, Swanson requested the sharing of a few reports. Here are four (see below).
- Send your church's outreach report to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Bishop’s Mission Request” in the subject line.
Ft. Oglethorpe United Methodist Church
Dear Bishop Swanson,
In answer to your request to learn "What have you done for the least of these?" I'm attaching a summary of the Outreach Ministry efforts for Ft. Oglethorpe (Ga.) UMC for 2010.
We are a small congregation but are still able to practice not only extravagant generosity but are also continually striving to step out of the box with risk-taking mission and service.
The Global Soap Project is new for us this year. Used soap that normally would be thrown into the landfill is collected from area motels, reprocessed, and sent to third world countries. This project was started by a Ugandan refugee who escaped a firing squad to come to live in the U.S.A. His dream, which is now reality, is to literally save lives by sending soap around the world. The cost of a bar of soap in Uganda would be the equivalent on a day's wage! You can learn more at www.globalsoap.org.
FOUMC plans to take church members to Atlanta for a hands-on volunteer day within the next two to three months and will send in pictures and a story at that time.
Linda V. Callahan, Coordinator
Outreach Ministry Team
Virginia Avenue United Methodist Church
1. Food Pantry twice each month for the needy in the community (Virginia and Tennessee residents)
2. Quarterly "Feed the Homeless" on State Street in downtown Bristol, Tenn. The church gathers and cooks all the food that is necessary to feed approximately 50-70 people in the warm months and more
in the winter months.
3. Virginia Avenue collects and distributes pamper products and wipes for young mothers in need through the Faith in Action Agency in Bristol, Va.
James T. Oxendine, Pastor
Trinity (Morristown) United Methodist Church
Dear Bishop Swanson,
I want to share how our Children's Ministries Department led our congregation to bring the love of Christ to families in our local area of Morristown.
Personal invitations were passed out to homes in the low income area of our town, to make sure we reached those people we wanted to help, and invited them to a fun "Back to School" Block Party.
It was a typical block party with games, crafts, rides, face painting, and of course, lots and lots of food. Over 100 children, plus their parents, registered their attendance and joined in the fun. At an appointed time everyone was invited into the multipurpose room, and our pastor, Rev. Carole Martin, shared a devotional with the crowd. Then the children's names were divided according to age ranges, placed in hats,and we drew names for prizes donated by congregation members.
Fifty backpacks, filled with school supplies, were given out to school age kids, while younger children received books, coloring books and crayons, and kids' DVDs. We anticipated that we might have more then 50 school age children attend, and the ones whose names weren't drawn for a backpack received other gifts, including gift cards to Wal-Mart, purchased by the Children's Ministries Department. We also had various door prizes for adults, which included gift cards donated by local restaurants, passes donated by Wilderness at the Smokies, etc. A dentist in our congregation donated dental hygiene supply bags for all the children. Every child received a gift, and smiles were on every face.
It was such a blessing for everyone involved and we plan to hold the block party again next year, before school starts. We hope we will have a bigger crowd as the word spreads, and those who attended this year invite friends and family.
Yours is Christ,
Lay Leader and Lay Member of Annual Conference
Cedar Grove United Methodist Church
Johnson City District
As requested by the Bishop, these are some of the things our church has done in the area of missions in the past year. I am aware he said not to list monetary amounts, but some of these were direct offerings for certain individuals.
- $500 to the Green County Coal Fund for assistance with people, who could not afford heating.
- $538 special offering for a family who had a burn-out, losing all.
- Trip to grocery store with a family for food (both husband and wife had lost jobs right at Christmas) and two presents each for their 3 children.
- $500 to Good Samaritan Ministries in Johnson City.
- 46 filled shoe boxes to Holston Home for Children with requested supplies.
- 61 Health Kits for Haiti + $61
- Collected 880 lbs. of food for the Greene County Food Bank.
- $300 special offering for the Czech Republic partnership, which the Johnson City District has.
- Collected 8 boxes of supplies for the two day care centers operated by Holston Home.
- 134 School Kits for Liberia + $670 for shipping (Annual Conference)
- $500 Change for Chidren offering
- $100 Sudan Offering
- Funds sent to Conference Office for help with the furnishing of Captain's House
- 47 Women's and men's watches sent to Maria Humbane for use in special projects
- $540 special offering for family who had a burn-out.
- Special offering for the Gideons
- $350 special offering for a church member who could not afford her medicine
- $100 covenant for Czech Republic (this is an amount we give each year for this mission)
We have an outreach ministry in connection with other churches to provide free clothing, etc. where there is a need. This outreach center is open three mornings each week. People from the church contribute items on a regular basis.
We are presently collecting food for the Food Bank again as the need is so great. It will be delivered to them prior to Thanksgiving.
This is from a church with 100 members and an average attendance of 65.
Barbara Tilson, Missions Chair
Rev. Dr. Walt Isley, Pastor