After the 2012 Palm Sunday worship service at Francis Street First UMC in Saint Joseph, Jeff Berdon and Arsy Sauder approached Lay Leader Fred Hannah and asked to speak to the minister. Berdon serves as the lay pastor of a group of approximately 30 Micronesians, most related by blood or marriage. Approximately six months prior, they came to Saint Joseph along with the family breadwinners to work for Triumph Food, a large pork processing plant. They live near the church and were seeking space to hold a Sunday afternoon worship service. Micronesians identify themselves as either Protestant, representing 50% of the population, or Roman Catholic.
On Easter, the Micronesians attended the traditional service en masse, spreading themselves throughout the congregation of 170. The Micronesian women’s traditional flowing, floral-print Muumuus added a colorful spectacle to the service. Several Micronesian children joined the other children for the Children’s Message. Smiles helped quickly overcome any language barriers.
During the following week, several meetings were held between representatives of both groups. At the present time, the Micronesians have an arrangement to use the church’s chapel on Sunday afternoon for a service in their native language. They also have attended a church-wide dinner and periodically attend the church’s late morning worship service, where they recently shared worship music from their homeland.
Francis Street First UM Church and the Micronesian community are continuing to explore ways in which they can carry out cooperative ministries.
For additional information, please contact David Lewis at 816-901-4603 or dlewis@nvb. com.