Ecumenical Activities Strengthen the Community and Congregation of Faith UMC, Richmond
Rev. Ben Trammell shares how externally-focused congregations can serve as a catalyst for powerful changes in their communities.
When 16 churches lock arms to focus on improving their communities, they can effectively be “Christ Together.” Rev. Ben Trammell, pastor of Faith UMC, Richmond, has been in the center of an ecumenical pastor’s alliance for the last several years and is excited to see the fruits of the group’s efforts taking many different forms. “We formed the Christ Together group in 2012 and have been adding churches ever since,” he explains. “One of our first initiatives was to preach the same 3-week sermon series and have a joint worship service featuring 300 attendees. We are primarily focused on being a blessing to the geographic neighbors we have in common, particularly to local schools.” Additionally they have sponsored Saturdays of Service and jointly determined to send a message of Christ by building a legacy of love.
Rev. Greg Murks, pastor of Pecan Grove Baptist just west of the Houston city limits, adds, “The We Resolve campaign and the larger ‘Christ Together’ movement is a great source of encouragement and hope to the people of our congregation! The essence of this focus is not about changing our methods or how we worship in order to be like our brothers and sisters who are from other denominations or churches. It is about changing our hearts - being able to see a larger picture when we look at the Body of Christ and see His people throughout our community and lock arms with them. Christ Together reminds us that it's not about the name on the back of the jersey but about the name on the front of the jersey. That name on the front of the jersey is Jesus Christ!”
Christ Together Fort Bend’s “We Resolve Campaign”
The list of partner churches is growing. The ministry alliance produced a document that was communicated on reminder cards and invitation notes that congregations could use to inspire, unify and invite others to join. The document begins with, “Just imagine individuals from churches across Fort Bend County taking similar steps of obedience in their walk of faith each day for three weeks. We believe it can be done and we’ve RESOLVED to help you do just that.”
Below are We Resolve Action Steps for each week. Make a commitment to take a daily step with us Use the hash tag, #weresolve, on social media to track God stories within the city and across churches.
We Resolve Action Steps:
WEEK ONE – Be Christ-Centered
Monday: Download the prayer app at www.christtogetherfb.org, commit 15 minutes a day to pray
Tuesday: Pray that Christ would be the center of your life and your family
Wednesday: Pray for a missionary serving Christ
Thursday: Pray for a Public Servant today (city council, mayor, officers, etc.)
Friday: Pray for a family member needing salvation
Saturday: Pray for your city and surrounding area
WEEK TWO – Bless Our Neighbors
Monday: Buy lunch or coffee today for someone
Tuesday: Do something unexpected to bless your neighbor
Wednesday: Pray for a coworker in your workplace
Thursday: Call someone that is hurting and offer encouragement
Friday: Bless a Police Officer, Firefighter or EMT today
Saturday: Invite a neighbor(s) over for a meal or game night
WEEK THREE – Build Relationships
Monday: Leave your spouse a love note around the house (singles-encouragement note for friend)
Tuesday: Call a relative who is distant to reconnect
Wednesday: Share your faith with a coworker or friend
Thursday: Connect with one of your kids in a meaningful way
Friday: Ask for forgiveness for an offense you may have caused
Saturday: Do something nice for someone in your church
According to Ben, the group has adopted nine elementary schools in the area thus far. “How each congregation partners with the schools looks different for each church – from backpack programs to teacher support in many forms, but many are forming brand new relationships geared toward long-term commitment and community betterment.” One of the leaders in the school enhancement ministry is Rev. Deborah Prihoda of First Rosenberg Assembly of God. “When it comes to working together to do Kingdom ministry in our community, we look for other pastors/leaders who are willing to press through and find the unity in the midst of our diversity while never compromising God’s truth,” Deborah shares. “Jesus Christ gave us a mandate to go into all the world and preach the gospel, making Christ-followers and that is too big of a job for one church in a city. If we as pastors/leaders can agree not to waiver on the essentials that our faith is based upon and agree to disagree on the non-essentials, then there is nothing that can stop what God can do in and through His united Church in a city or region!”
Ben is particularly excited that Faith UMC was able to put in a track for students in their partner school and an ice machine for the teachers. “This is not a church growth strategy but a people helping people movement,” he says. “We consider it a huge success that the school comes to us when they have a need, and that teacher satisfaction is higher and student test scores have come up by double digits in the three years we have been in partnership.”
There’s an App for That
As Christ Together Fort Bend unifies to consistently demonstrate and communicate the gospel to their given geographical footprint, all strategies have been about 1) Praying 2) Owning responsibility in each congregation’s circle of accountability, and 3) Caring. “Our discussions have even lead us to create a prayer app,” adds Ben. Nolan Donald the Pastor at Wordserve UMC in Fulshear was the instrumental lead on getting the app constructed and operational.
See video testimonials here.
To learn more about this unique and impactful outreach effort, or obtain documents and information on creating something similar in your ministry field, see www.christtogetherfb.org