I was asked to share what it means to be able to support our church through the giving of my money, time and service to our ministries.
Throughout the 25 + years that I have been a member of the UMC in Stow, I have come to realize that this congregation is my family, and in a family, everyone contributes what they can, and supports one another in whatever ways possible- through the good, the bad, and yes, sometimes even the ugly.
I give of my money because I strongly believe in the mission of the church- to grow in personal relationship with God, to nurture one another in faith, and to share God’s love with others, so that they may have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Without financial support to pay the ministry team and the basic bills, this church could not exist and its mission would be lost.
In the past 25 years, I have given of my time and talents in a myriad of ways. I have served as a Sunday School teacher, Kid’s church volunteer, nursery worker, VBS station leader, Bible study facilitator, church sign changer, and member of UMW. I have been blessed to serve in our church mission of the UMC Preschool. I have organized many different community outreach collections, such as pillows, stuffed animals, books, and pajamas, for those in need. I support our food pantry with regular donations. I have volunteered to help organize or assist in special events, such as the Hanging of the Greens Christmas Party, special Sunday school events, and countless bake sales.
Why do I do all of this? Because I feel that if I am able to make a positive impact on someone, make someone’s day just a little brighter by what I may say or do, share the love of Jesus, even with just one person, within our congregation or in the community, then I am doing what God commanded me to do.
In the Bible, Jesus shared as the most important commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
I give in many different ways and support our church family as an expression of LOVE for each of YOU, and for those in our community and in the world whom we are called by God, as believers, to serve.
I am convinced that it’s all about caring for one another and LOVE, my dear friends…. Giving and serving in God’s precious LOVE!
Written by a member of the United Methodist Church in Stow
We love to have visitors at our church! Sometimes visitors come on four legs such as a friend’s dog, Cheyenne. Sometimes they come in wheelchairs or strollers. Last week a visitor hopped in when we weren’t paying attention. I looked over to the other staff offices and a gigantic (or so it seemed to me) toad hovered by the wall. While I pondered what to do (get a glass, pick it up with fingers, get help from others), Pastor Karen swooped up the lonely toad with her hands and carried it lovingly outdoors. “There you go!” she said. There was no hesitation about helping a visitor. United Methodists really have open doors!
I was recently asked to share where I saw Christ while on a Mission Trip. My answer was in all the connections we made with other people – connections to the members of our team, to the other team that was at the center at the same time, the staff and to the wonderful people we were serving. There was even a connection made to my grandfather that week! With each conversation and through the work done, I could feel God’s love moving back and forth between all of us.
I have the same sensation when working with the people in our church. The bonds created in the music ensembles are more than just friendships – they are based on Christ’s presence as we work together. Christ is in our boisterous fellowship after worship, in thoughtful study and discussions in Sunday School classrooms and can be felt when we help people through the Food Pantry and Clothes Closet. I even remember leaving a long Administrative Board meeting one night and feeling that God had been in our, at times, heated discussions. These connections tingle with the special sense of purpose that comes from Christ’s presence and God’s love.
I hope you feel that special tingle as well and look forward to making new connections, while strengthening the ones already made.
As we returned from our Mission Trip with the Nehemiah Mission in Cleveland, our team was asked to share the answer to this question: Where did you see Christ? I was touched by the answers of the youth and adults and they made me think of the various situations in which we found ourselves as well as the people we encountered.
One young woman talked about a family we met while painting their house. They had had so many serious set-backs, yet laughed and spoke with joy, and that amazed our team member and made her think about how she would react to disappointments in her life.
Another member of the team saw Christ in another team we met at the mission from Mount Vernon and how they welcomed us into their fellowship even though we were strangers to them.
I saw Christ in the people we served. They were, unsurprisingly, appreciative. But what really stood out was their generosity. So often those who have the least are the most generous! The lady we helped obviously didn’t have a lot, yet she surprised us with watermelon and cantaloupe on the hottest day of our painting project. It was delicious and so very humbling. We came to give to her, but she gave to us—not only the fruit that she shared but also the love that she shared. I saw Christ in her. How do others see Christ in us?
There are so many things to love about Vacation Bible School…making new friends, surprising science experiments, delicious snacks, songs that make you dance, rambunctious games, inspiring Bible stories and so much more!
One of my favorite things, and I think the participants as well, is the mission project that is done each day. On Monday, the kids made Bee-attitude bookmarks, Tuesday was decorating cookies, Wednesday was decorating the cookie boxes and making SUPER size thank you cards, Thursday was filling Super Treat Bags and Friday was a Super Scroll of Thanks! Whew, they were busy!
The bookmarks and treat bags were given to The Harvest Home in Akron. The scroll was for the kids to give to their own personal Super Hero. The cookies and cards were delivered by three Super Heroes to the Stow Fire and Police Departments and Akron General Hospital in Stow. The recipients were so thankful to be thought of and could not express how this act of kindness made them feel. We need to take time out to remember these “Everyday” Heroes that serve and protect us.
Serving others is something we need to do all the time. You get a warm, fuzzy feeling back when you give to others. Jesus wants us to leave our comfort zone and “Do good! Seek peace and go after it!” Psalm 34:14
One of the missions I enjoy is Kids’ Church. Occasionally, there is a lag time when we’ve finished our lesson or craft early and the children are restless. We love to play games but often don’t have the equipment we need. But there’s always chalk! I invented a way to make one of our favorite word games, Hangman, a bit kinder. Instead of a hangman’s noose, I draw a clay pot, so anytime the children don’t give me a correct letter for the puzzle word, I add a stem, leaves, petal, or center to the pot. This seems silly, I know, but it softens the idea of the Hangman game to one of life instead of death. Isn’t that what our faith and our children are all about? Join us sometime on Sundays and we’ll try and figure out a word of your choosing!