For the second year in a row, churches all over the Missouri Conference dedicated the second weekend in September to engaging their local communities in mission. Hundreds of churches and thousands of volunteers participated in SERVE2012. Numbers and reports are still being gathered. The following is just a small example from a few of the churches that were taking church outside of their walls.
Volunteers from College UMC in Warrenton spent the day offering hospitality at a local convenience store. They pumped gas and cleaned windshields, and customers who went inside were offered coffee and donuts, courtesy of the church. It was the first time the church had engaged in an activity like this.
“I had heard about other churches doing this, so I thought we could try it. One of our members works for Warrenton Oil, the owner of this station, and was able to get permission,” Rev. Eric Schmidt said. “It was easy to set up. We’re not accepting donations, we just tell people if they feel moved to give to donate to the charity of their choice.”
The church’s work for SERVE2012 extended beyond that morning. The church was also putting together parole kits for people who are getting out of jail in Lincoln County. They had assembled 44 kits during Lent, but they were contacted by the jail and said they were in need of more.
About 25 volunteers came together at Wesley Smith Chapel in Wright City to make 200 sandwiches for the local homeless shelter. Open Hearts UMC joined with them on the project. Two of the volunteers spent the morning remodeling a bathroom for the Agape Ministry at the local thrift store.
Mission Coordinator Geri Tucker said the morning was great, and she appreciated the weather.
“Last year during SERVE2011 we were roofing a house in the rain,” she said. “We were also making pillowcases last year. We had 15 sewing machines going in the church at once.”
At Cornerstone UMC in O’Fallon, Eugene and Yvonne Beasley were working on a big roast beef dinner that was going to be served at the church for a fundraiser for new water heaters for the Bridge, the ministry for the homeless at Centenary UMC in St. Louis. This wasn’t part of SERVE2012 though, it was just business as usual.
The SERVE 2012 volunteers were doing volunteer work at a neighboring autism center, at city hall and helping with a Veteran’s Memorial walk.
Missouri Bishop Robert Schnase also took part in the SERVE2012 action again this year. He was in a General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits meeting on Saturday in Illinois, but on Sunday afternoon he helped the youth from Missouri UMC paint the home of an elderly woman in Columbia. While he was doing this his wife Esther was working at the Central Missouri Food Bank. The day before his sons Paul and Karl had been volunteering with the Branch doing home repair in Columbia.