A season of service.
In one of the reports on an Annual Conference business item they talked about a survey that they sent out to many in the denomination asking them to describe the Church of the Brethren. The one thing that came back the strongest is that we are a denomination that believes in service to others. While some would be at a loss of words to describe why this trait ranks so high, I would offer an important yet simple explanation. I think that whether we would say it this way or not, the Brethren have figured out that it is through acts of service that we experience and embody the presence of Jesus. Serving others allows us to be the face of Christ to others, improving this world. And,at the same time we experience the presence of Christ in others, our lives are changed and enriched in the process.
It’s not surprising to me then that at a recent service commission meeting we found ourselves struck by all of the many acts of service that people in our congregation have been doing this summer and will be doing in the coming month or so. In particular we noticed that there are three events that our congregation, or individuals from our congregation have or will be participating in that are all happening within about a week of each other in the month of August.
August 5th is the *Convoy of Hope. This is a yearly event that organizes free access to school supplies, shoes, medical care, dental work, family pictures, prayer, and many other services for thousands of people. The demand has been so great that they have opened a second site at McAdams Park this year and are needing more volunteers. If you are interested please contact Stacie Cathcart at firstname.lastname@example.org . Then, on August 6th we begin our next week of hosting Family Promise at our church. Previous families have graduated and now we have families with many young kids, so the need for more hands is important. Then, on August 11th the Greater Wichita Ministerial League (The League focused on the African American community in Wichita) will be holding a banquet to honor the recipients of a brand new scholarship called the Hope Scholarship. It is aimed at helping minority kids go to college and trade schools. Our church has decided to sup-port this scholarship by buying tickets for 8 people to attend the banquet.
It was striking to the people at the Service Commission meeting how these opportunities to serve our local community are coming together in August. The more I thought about it, however, the more I was struck by all of the different ways that our church serves people in our community and around the world. Very quickly many different acts of service came to mind.
We continue to support a group of girls in South Sudan, enabling them to go on to further their education through the Second Step program of the New Community Project. Our church continues to support rebuilding efforts in Nigeria in the wake of the attacks by Boko Haram. This summer we even sent Curtis Rink to Nigeria to work with them and learn about their situation.
This summer, as in the past, we have sent people out to serve around this country and around the world. We sent Colby Patton and Mira Coulter on a service trip to Nepal. Todd Flory helped to lead a summer work camp.and Molly Stover-Brown attend a work camp this summer.
Even more indicative of our commitment to service are the many ways that people come together to serve others with little to no fanfare or recognition. I think of people who help a church neighbor or distribute food to those in need. Or, I think of those who come through the church office in need of a Dillon’s gift card or a meal out of the little red wagon. Or, I think of the many people who simply help someone in need because “it’s just what we do” and never tell another soul about their good deed.
Service is clearly one of the spiritual disciplines of our congregation. It’s a way that we form a community of believers, grow closer to the Spirit of God, and become more like Jesus. For this lesson in following Jesus I continue to be deeply humbled and grateful.
Each month for our newsletter Pastor Alan writes a short article on a variety of topics. At times he will also create a video version of the article.