Submitted by Susan Hughes, Central UMC
On Sunday, April 10, Central United Methodist Church in Fitzgerald participated in “Change the World Day,” part of a world-wide movement in The United Methodist Church to “rethink church.” It is a call to refocus and ask the question, “What is God calling His Church to be in the 21st century?” Jesus gave the Great Commission, telling the church to “Go into the world” and do the things that He did: teach, heal, feed hungry people, speak out about injustice, and call people to faithful living. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to empower the disciples to begin a movement.
In too many places, we have lost the sense of being a movement, convincing ourselves it is enough to gather in our buildings and wait for people to come and find us. Jesus sends us out to meet the world at its points of greatest need, as He sent the disciples. It is this very thing that drives us to rethink how we see our church and how we live as the church.
Central UMC started our “Change the World Day” with a short gathering in the sanctuary with praise music, prayer, and an encouraging word from the pastor. We then disbursed into the community in different groups, serving and loving like Jesus. We had 19 different projects for our members. They were asked to decide which one they felt God calling them to serve. Projects included visiting local nursing homes and assisted living homes; giving flowers to public service employees; making cards and jars of cake to soldiers at home and abroad; handing out bottles of water; serving communion elements to homebound members; filling food boxes; cleaning city parks; making goodie bags for inmates at the Irwin County Detention Center; writing cards to local firemen, policemen, and sheriff deputies; filling care packages for children in need; making goodie bags for inmates in our county jail; and washing windshields and pumping gasoline.
Some of the projects were on site within the church building, and some were scattered throughout Ben-Hill County, and even extended into Irwin County. Every single member had a place to serve, from the children to the elderly. We tried to think of everyone and any condition to make sure we didn’t leave anyone out. We wanted everyone to experience service. Those who are disabled could choose a service ministry that was organized inside the church building. Every single ministry project focused on others outside our church doors. That was the purpose of this event – to focus on others and not ourselves.
This year, First Presbyterian Church, St. Peters United Methodist Church and Pine Level United Methodist Church participated with us, and next year we hope to reach out to other churches and make this one unit for Christ – one church for Christ! It is so much fun reaching out to others and our hope is for everyone to receive this blessing. This is what church is supposed to be, not sitting in a building taking care of ourselves, but reaching out to take care of others.
Will your church join us next time?