FUMC Atlanta Impacting Lives Through Creative Ministry
In November, the gym/worship space was transformed into a dental clinic. In December, it became a children’s painting studio and in January, the church will serve as an art gallery – as First UMC Atlanta, Tx continues to exhibit the flexibility and creativity characteristic of a vital congregation.
Mission of Mercy Smiles on Wheels
Have church space and professional skills, will donate! In November, local dentist and FUMC Atlanta member Mike Giesler, also an SPRC member and Sunday School teacher, arranged for many dentists and dental assistants with The Smiles Foundation from various parts of the state to work with Atlanta dentists to offer free services to area residents of all ages. Over two days’ time the impact was notable:
· More than 90 3rd graders received oral hygiene instruction and 33 children received preventative dental work
· 165 adults received $150,000 worth of free dental work
· FUMC Atlanta gave away 175 bibles
· Some 60+ FUMC volunteers joined another 70 helpers to make this possible
“Our project leaders did an amazing job beginning at a very early hour. I showed up on the parking lot at 5am that day,” says Pastor Guy Williams, “and the place was already buzzing with workers!” One of the most amazing results happened after the fact. Adds Pastor Williams, “One of the adults we had to turn away due to time constraints actually hand wrote a thank you note for hosting this event.”
The note, addressed “to the Christians at FUMC, workers, dentists and pastor…As I stood in line, I watched and was in awe of our Master and found in prayer how God tends to the hearts of his children through acts of kindness, giving, sharing and compassion as each of you and the dentists working to serve…My thoughts were that you all don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. Instead of buying a thank you card I am enclosing $2 as my love offering.”
According to Pastor Williams, this note gave the church the contact information to follow up with this resident and see how the church could help her. “We were so touched that she included $2, because that was like the widow’s mite in terms of her limited budget.”
Event volunteers Dianne Bryan and Mike Geisler know their church is meeting a real need. Says Dianne, “This is one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had. The folks who come are so grateful, and it always makes we wish we had two or three more days to serve them. By 7 pm that was the ‘best tired’ I have been in a long time and all the other volunteers felt the same way.”
Adds Mike, “As our country moves further into debt and poverty, Christians will be challenged to find resources to help our fellow man. Outreaches such as this one will be in more demand, so we would encourage all United Methodist Churches to develop their own means to feed the hungry and care for the infirm. I am blessed to have such a great church home and family that believes in prayer and action. They never say no to a great Kingdom cause.”
Painting Through Scripture
Another example of a vital congregation’s creative ministry took place one Saturday in December, with children of all ages. Each artist participating in the Painting through Scripture event chose a scripture and illustrated its meaning via a painting. According to event coordinator Kerri Hanner, every artist was interviewed and asked to talk about why they chose their particular scripture and what the painting represents to them. See video clips here. "All paintings were acrylic on canvas, and it was a great way for the kids to learn about the bible while doing something artistic and fun!"
Community Invited to Help FUMC Atlanta Invest in the Young
This Sunday afternoon, the budding artists will stand by their masterpieces and help interpret the meaning for admirers passing by. This ‘meet and mingle’ with the young artists will include refreshments and a silent auction fundraiser. Proceeds will help World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization working to tackle the causes of poverty, to bring clean water to an area in need of a well.
“We have also recently celebrated new members, professions of faith and baptisms as a result of our outreach oriented ministries. These are just a few examples of what God is doing here in the name of Jesus,” adds Pastor Williams.