International Acts of Kindness Campaign
When 600 individuals go on a Kindness Journey, everybody wins. “ I laughed and I cried when I read about over 600 acts of kindness performed by our church members,” says Michele Smith, chair of the Evangelism Committee of First UMC, Brenham who coordinated an International Act of Kindness month in the spring. On the kickoff Sunday, the committee distributed 10 strips of colored paper to members for recording their stories, in hopes the papers could be used to make a Kindness Chain at the conclusion of the campaign.
“I was totally awed after that month passed and I began to realize what a generous church looks like in action,” she adds. “Our members shared kindness with strangers, friends, animals and anything or anybody that they could find…feeding people, donating to food pantries, helping customers find things in stores or load groceries, leaving larger tips, giving compliments and taking people to appointments – for starters.”
Michele suspects there was a giant uptick in “I love you’s” and smiles, and she knows of a sizable increase in encouraging text messages, email and Facebook postings. “My favorite story was hearing about someone (who never sends cards) getting into the project and sending 32 long notes and cards to friends and loved ones,” says Michele. She also read about people that prayed when they heard sirens, rescued goats on the road, bought gifts for strangers and spoke up on someone’s behalf.
To promote this unique experience, First UMC featured children’s kindness themed artwork and poems on the Sunday bulletin, decorations placed throughout the church, distributed 70+ ideas to participants, and focused children’s sermons on kindness as well. “Two extra special additions to show kindness in our community were: 1) Our Blinn Blitz where college students and members did work for area citizens, and 2) Paint the Town where ladies from the church did over 60 manicures for seniors in area nursing homes.”
When the chain of 631 kindness strips was complete, the chain went from the pulpit to the back of the church and around to the pulpit again. “And, a visitor that attended on one of our Kindness Campaign Sundays and told us that she was taking our idea to her Methodist church in Arkansas,” recalls Michele. “But the greatest part is hearing that this spirit of paying-it-forward is still in our hearts. I hope this will be an annual event and that our chain will stretch to the choir loft next time!”