‘Being the Church’ is Fun for Givers and Receivers

Date Posted: 4/28/2016

When almost 500 people of all ages collaborate on 20 different mission-hearted  activities, they ‘build community’ and strengthen their lifestyle evangelism skills.
Generally speaking, an empty church is only a cause for celebration when it means the missing people are on a mission in the community. On April 3, members and friends of FUMC Pearland left the church building and went out in to the community to “Be the Church.”
Over 475 children and adults participated in the 20 different projects put together for this day. Projects included: planting trees for Pearland Parks and Recreation, making 1,500 sandwiches for Kids Meals, bagging 8,000 pounds of rice and beans to be taken to Mexico with Builders Without Borders, making and handing out hygiene bags to area homeless and planting corn at the Builders Without Borders facility in Alvin.
Members also had a cookout and outside activities with the residents at Kidz Harbor in Liverpool.  Volunteer Mirna Renaurd says, “I find it very fulfilling to serve on Be The Church day, and a way to pay forward the blessings that God has given me. It is a joy to spending time at Kidz Harbor bringing happiness to children who have been displaced from their homes.”
This was the fourth annual Be the Church Day for FUMC Pearland and plans are in the works for 2017. FUMC Pearland places a high priority on outreach and mission projects and keeps the options “top of mind” on the church website, social media forums and through frequent announcements geared to give members new ways to be externally focused on making disciples and meeting needs in the community.
Genie Potes, Mission and Outreach Director, shares how the event comes together. “I start the official planning for Be the Church in January, and our event is held the Sunday after Easter so the timeframe varies a little each year.  Preplanning usually begins by setting the date and being on the lookout for new projects throughout the year.  There are several organizations we help every year, but the other projects may differ from year to year.  I work with a contact person from the organization to iron out the details and see how we can best serve them by filling needs.”
Once the majority of projects are set, focus changes to spreading the word to the congregation. Adds Genie, “Our members sign up online for whatever projects they feel called to, and we offer projects to accommodate ages 5-95.  There is quite a bit of behind the scenes organization that goes on prior to the big day, but once the day arrives it is all about our congregation working to serve those in our community and beyond.”
Additionally the sanctuary choir offered mini concerts at both Hope Village in Friendswood and Kidz Harbor.  Dr. Hyeok Lee, director of Traditional Music, notes, “It is good for our choir to get out of the sanctuary and be the hands, feet and voice of Jesus out in the community.”
Each year, the Pathfinders Sunday School class designs their own project to fill a need in the community. Their projects are designed to incorporate all ages within a family.  Last year they assembled “Blessing Bags” with ready-to-eat foods to give out to homeless people in the area.  This year, they assembled emergency diaper bags to give out to moms in need in the area.  After assembling the bags, the class goes out in groups including adults and kids to pass the bags out in a variety of places.  Class member Aimee Jamison, says “It is rewarding to do a hands-on project where the kids get to see firsthand the needs of people in the community.  It is very humbling, and is a living testimony to the kids that we can share good in the world.”
Notes Genie, “Those who are on the receiving end of our projects are always very appreciative.  Whether it’s sprucing up our local senior center, doing landscaping at a residential special needs facility, or spending time with kids in a group home, FUMC Pearland’s Be the Church day is a blessed experience for all involved!”