Chapelwood UMC Brings Unique Focus to Global Issues on World Communion Sunday
Although human trafficking is quickly reaching epidemic levels as a modern-day form of slavery, many people do not know what it is, or how they can help. After a multiple-month emphasis at her home church of Chapelwood UMC in Houston, Carrie Hoye sees the issue of human trafficking much differently. “As a board member of my UMW group and through the programs offered at Chapelwood, I now have a deeper understanding of this issue, both globally and locally, and an understanding of how I can help curb it,” notes Carrie. “Our UMW group was invited to attend a study on the book Sold, by Patricia McCormick, which helped us understand how forces such as cultural, economic, governmental as well as natural disasters lead to human trafficking, and what trafficking organizations within the City of Houston are doing to fight trafficking in the U.S and locally. We also learned that Houston is the largest hub for trafficking in this country. I have no doubt that everyone who attended the study is sharing what they learned, and making more people aware of this tragic and far-reaching issue impacting so many of God's children. All who have heard of human trafficking can certainly join us in prayer for those affected by this horrific injustice.”
The UMW of Chapelwood also hosted a presentation by Maria Trujillo, executive director of the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition. Adds Carrie, “This was one of our best-attended general meetings, with 55 present for the message. Ms. Trujillo told us what slavery and trafficking look like in our community, and how each of us can potentially identify it and what we can do to help stop it. I believe many in the room are being moved into action, and repeating the stories we learned, creating a growing army of vigilant observers around our city.”
“World Communion Sunday, was the apex of our year-long focus on global missions and specifically, the human trafficking issue,” says Chris Archer, associate director of the Serving Ministry for Chapelwood. The special October day of focus included a special concert, preaching from Serving Ministry Pastor Melissa Maher, opportunities for World Communion Sunday giving, a human traffic art exhibit, an educational piece for Adult and Youth Sunday school classes, and a multimedia worship/intercessory prayer event.
Leading up to World Communion Sunday, Chapelwood has worked to offer something for everyone, including movie nights (featuring the movie Amazing Grace and a related documentary) and even a yoga event that highlighted human trafficking awareness. Currently, Chapelwood is responding locally through a growing connection with Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition: http://www.houstonrr.org/.
The weeks ahead will also include another book study and documentary as well as contemplative prayer labyrinth that will facilitate prayer for victims. “Many of us are about to start a four-week study on the book, Not for Sale -- the return of the global slave trade and how we can fight it, by David Batstone, so the learning, growing, praying and sharing will continue,” says Carrie.
How can churches become more fruitful?
“By offering themes of prayer, giving, education and entertainment, these events are attracting wider participation since they give us a number of handles for the community to latch on to,” adds Chris. To give voice to this important conversation, Chapelwood created a comprehensive booklet and depended heavily on word-of-mouth and social media buzz in addition to accessing distribution lists of partnering organizations. “To address these missional challenges, we are issuing a call to action with choices ranging from giving, to being more aware of the food you buy, to issuing phone numbers for individuals to use to provide suspects or tips to the authorities.” Adds Chris, “Chapelwood is also hosting the Dark Side of Chocolate on October 12, an event to tie into the free trade aspect of slavery. Additionally, we’ll be looking at how we might engage in long term response globally, through our Methodist Partnerships in Kenya, the Philippines, Mexico, Estonia and Haiti.”