Yesterday I had the opportunity as an advisory board member of Stewartville Neighbors Helping Neighbors to participate in a conference call with the MN Department of Human Resources and members of Senior Independence Programs of Family Service Rochester. The purpose of the call was to review how Live Well at Home Grant funds awarded by the MN Department of Human Resources are being used by Family Service Rochester to serve older adults in Olmsted County.
I have only been on the advisory board of Stewartville Neighbors Helping Neighbors since September, but am already aware of the wealth of resources available to older residents of the Stewartville area, such as help with household chores, constructing ramps for those who are physically challenged, providing transportation to work and medical appointments, delivering Meals on Wheels and boxes of fresh produce donated by area grocers and restaurants.
When appointed to a particular congregation(s), clergy serving within the United Methodist denomination are considered appointed to the larger community in which their appointment resides. This expectation reflects the UMC’s mission of “Making Disciples for the Transformation of the World,” in that the local church is not meant to be a cloistered group of people who only gather Sunday mornings for worship, but a community of Christians dedicated to serving those in need in the community. This expectation of clergy is also meant to express the connectional character of the UMC, in establishing and growing connections between the local church and community as a way to help the congregation better live out the mission of the UMC.
While serving as pastor at Glenwood United Parish (2015-2020), the emphasis on connecting clergy and laity with the wider community resulted in these missional fruits:
· Providing the lower level of the church building for a private daycare provider (because the church was up-to-date on its apportionments, a grant from MN Builders was awarded to remove mold and upgrade HVAC in the lower level of the building).
· Establishing Jairus’ Daughter ministry in addressing the growing problem of sex trafficking in West Central MN.
· Hosting the Ugandan Ambassador to the UN during a Sunday worship (which included a lot of off-duty law enforcement and private security!) through Glenwood Rotary Club.
· Providing space and volunteers for the United Way monthly mobile food drop.
Although I have only been pastor at SUMC for six months, I already have a pretty good understanding of where God is at work through the ministries of the congregation. But as I make more community connections, I am getting a glimpse of where God may be calling us to stretch our faith and deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ through new ministries in the community and beyond. Stay tuned!
May you be open to the call of God to serve those in need through our community of faith at Stewartville UMC!