Greetings to the Woodlawn Community Fellowship congregation.
We are beginning our 2021 Ministry Plan, and if you are like me, I’m enjoying looking past 2020. It has been a challenging year in many ways.
From a church perspective, we have not been able to gather together for worship, study, music practice, and fellowship in 2020 as we would have liked, but let me share something that I have been reminded of:
Even during “normal” times, the church is gathered only 5-10% of the time. So that means that even in “normal” years, a church lives most of the year “scattered”, not “gathered”. The bottom-line and our theme for our 2021 Stewardship Campaign is “We are still the church, even when we are scattered.”
In the next few weeks, we will read and/ or hear examples from this year where the Holy Spirit guided our church to show God’s love when we were “the church scattered”. First , Tom Harris (Selwyn) shares his thoughts on Dinner Church.
Tom has worked with Judy Higginbotham and others to keep the ministry going even through this pandemic. We were able to serve food and love with 30-40 people for many weeks. Some were “Covid19 high risk” who were not comfortable going out of their homes; others were homeless. The “Dinner Church” ministry was originally started at Aldersgate UMC to serve the homeless. Dinner was served along with a short message and singing. While we could not continue a weekly “Dinner Church” service during the pandemic, Woodlawn Community Fellowship did continue with the ministry by delivering meals. Here’s Tom’s message:
That word, scattered, immediately reminded me of my Mom sitting at the table working jigsaw puzzles – as many as 1,000 pieces “scattered” about. Our church family is a lot like that these days, aren’t we? We’re all part of the greater good, forming a whole puzzle whether we’re physically connected or not, right?
If you think about the purpose of solving a puzzle, it’s really just patterning and problem solving. In these times of the pandemic, folks have had to quickly pivot and come up with all kinds of creative solutions to the usual way of doing things. While our physical church may be mostly “closed”, the work of the church is always “open” – kind of like Waffle House. We’re always “scattered, smothered, and covered” in God’s love and our “light” is always on.
The biblical KJV dictionary definition of “scatter” is “To be liberal to the poor; to be charitable” (Prov. 11). Whereas the Old Testament refers to churches more in the physical sense of a specific structure, the New Testament places the importance on the person – a public gathering of people comprises a church. While our church family has been scattered, we’ve continued to connect through online services, next steps in the merger process, and mission efforts like modified Dinner Church.
We’ve periodically been able to prepare and deliver boxed, hot meals to some of our more vulnerable, senior, and homeless friends and neighbors through this modified Dinner Church. Recipients of these deliveries are always so appreciative of our endeavors. It isn’t so much a need for food, in some cases, as it is the reminder of our connectedness – knowing that they are not forgotten, seeing those smiling eyes behind a mask, and receiving some variety in their typical Tuesday routine.
As you think about your church, remember that we’re always connected even when we’re scattered. Consider the ways in which your time, talents, and gifts can scatter across our community, shine our collective light, and reach others in such a way that they will know we’re still open. God bless and be well.
To develop the 2021 Ministry Plan, we need your help. Please consider how you can give your time and spiritual gifts as well as your financial gift. The real work of the church is in the former: sharing your time and spiritual gifts in 1-on-1 interactions in our community and also by working with others through a ministry. Your “hands and feet” will be needed for ministries which the Holy Spirit is nudging us to do. On the 2021 Ministry Plan, we ask you to consider how you will give: a) your spiritual gifts (examples include teaching, listening to others, serving in decision-making, serving in Dinner Church ministry, etc.), b) your time (examples include calling on others, praying, serving in Labor of Love ministry, etc.), c) financial gifts (examples include: weekly, monthly, annual giving, one-time celebration giving, etc.).
Ways to share gifts inside the church: participate in choir or hand bells, be a part of a study group, help with youth activities, teach a Sunday School class, sign up to be a greeter, serve on a committee, be a Prayer Chain caller….lots of other ways.
Ways to share gifts outside the church: serve in Dinner Church or Labor of Love or lead a Loaves & Fishes collection or help with a new ministry or help restart ESL classes, help with neighborhood involvement teams so we can find out some of the ways that Woodlawn Community Fellowship can partner with neighborhoods in our area.
Of course, we will also need financial contributions. These gifts will enable us to continue to do some needed upfits at Woodlawn as we start “gathering together” at the Woodlawn Campus. It will also allow us to continue the ministries that we have started or will want to start in 2021.
In November, you’ll receive a “Sign me up! 2021 Ministry Planner” letter. Please be in prayer now about how you will be sharing your time & gifts with WCF and our community in 2021.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop