‘Be the Church’ draws Presbyterians to service
submitted by Sally S. Wright | Acting Associate Executive Presbyter, Heartland Presbytery
KANSAS CITY — Oct. 22 couldn’t have been a more beautiful morning. Hundreds of individuals and families from around the Kansas City metro area woke up and instead of putting on their Sunday best, they dressed in work clothes, boots, and gloves; gathered rakes, scissors, knitting needles, and casserole dishes; and drove to church to worship in a different way.
The “Be the Church” campaign started several years ago under the philosophy that an important part of a church community’s worship experience is in getting up and getting out to put faith in action and serve.
In 2017, over 550 individuals from across the Kansas City metro area went out to serve in over 25 locations, including local social service agencies, schools, homeless shelters, transitional housing and even their own church buildings to rake, pack, cook, clean, demolish, build and play, all with the heart of supporting and encouraging our friends in the community.
“While the work this number of people can accomplish is substantial, it’s incredible to see the awareness that comes through direct exposure to issues here in our community and the inspiration that comes through interaction with those serving at agencies addressing them,” said Jimmy Itczak-McCarty, director of missions at Second Presbyterian Church.
Claire, a teenager who served at a local transitional home for women and children, said this experience opened her eyes to the reality that families who get displaced because of domestic violence would have nowhere else to go without organizations like these.
The Rev. Kirk Perucca and the community at Covenant Presbyterian Church offered a variety of services including a trunk-or-treat for local families, painting, yard work, urban garden winterization and continued promotion of their Food Pantry and Health and Wellness Center.
Village Presbyterian Church, under the leadership of Mission Director Deborah White, offered their service opportunities Sunday evening. Village mobilized over 200 volunteers for a variety of projects, including assembling hundreds of health and hygiene kits; packing medications to be sent to a local hospital in the Dominican Republic; prepping 300 lunches for distribution at City Union Mission; and making blankets for Kenyan babies.
This and the work completed at John Knox Kirk Presbyterian Church, Heritage Presbyterian Church and Grandview Park Presbyterian Church (along with two dozen other nonprofits) represents over 1,000 volunteer hours put into serving as a spiritual act.
The morning of Oct. 22 was a different way to worship, but as Nathan, a fourth-grader, said, “I wish every Sunday we could be the church.”
If that’s the outcome of this kind of enterprise, we might just be doing something right.
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