Change the World—Starting With Your Community

What if…on one weekend all around the world, United Methodists came together to work with their local communities? What if…as we serve people locally, we unite globally to eliminate a preventable, treatable disease that kills one child every 30 seconds?  

"We all want to see change in the world and by serving our local communities, we get to see that change up close and personal. But we can also touch those we do not see and may never meet. By raising awareness and funds, we can save lives and conquer malaria – a disease that the U.S. has already defeated.” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications.

On April 24-25, 2010, United Methodists around the world are invited to participate in Change the World, a weekend event that coincides with World Malaria Day on Sunday, April 25. Congregations are invited to schedule a community-based workday, and use World Malaria Day sermon starters (coming soon) on Sunday. A special offering is encouraged to support the fight against malaria.

Rev. Mike Slaughter, lead pastor at Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio has written a book called “Change the World: Recovering the Mission and Message of Jesus,” set to be released in February 2010. He emphasizes, “As the United Methodist Church, we have worried too much about getting numbers into our churches instead of getting the people in our churches out into the world in relative ways. Even our smallest churches can have incredible impact when they leave their four walls to serve the needs of their neighbors, alongside of their neighbors.” 

United Methodists are known for their commitment to social action. To read about the work of faithful Christians committed to making a difference, see the story below from First United Methodist Church of Watauga, Texas. More will be posted in the coming days.

Be one who makes a change and together, we can change the world. To get involved go to rethinkchurch.org/changetheworld.

A Texas Church Worships by Helping Others

First United Methodist Church, a small, but motivated, congregation, set out to make a difference in the community of Watauga, Texas and found it also brought them together as a congregation.

In November, the 125-member congregation went to work as a Sunday morning worship experience. On W.O.W .(Worship Outside Walls) Sunday, teams of congregational carpenters, construction collaborators and cleaner-uppers decided to forgo their formal worship service and venture from the church pews out into local mobile home parks to make desperately needed repairs to the homes of older adults in the Fort Worth-area community.

“We took the idea of rethinking church very seriously,” said Marcy Sylvester, a W.O.W. participant. “We worshipped God by helping others.”

While the volunteers were building a handicap ramp for one of the disabled homeowners, a woman in a wheelchair stopped by, fearing for the welfare of the resident. Relieved to hear her next-door neighbor was just getting a new addition to her home, she told the work team she had not been able to visit for years because the trailer lacked handicap access. “Oh, I’m so happy,” she said. “Now I can visit my friend.”

Sylvester said that for many of the volunteers, the experience reminded them of when they were kids on a church mission trip.

“It brought the spirit of camaraderie and fun that went beyond the usual polite hellos and nodding at one another at church,” she said. “It brought us together as good friends.”

“It also dawned on a lot of us about how important it is to do mission work right in our own back yard.” Sylvester said. “We know it’s important to do international mission work – which we do – but people, especially the younger folks, like it when they can see, feel and touch the mission. They like to see the fruits of their labor.”

She also told of a curious couple that stopped by the work site wondering about the helpful hubbub.

“When they found out we were a church group, they said, ‘We’re not churchgoers – it’s just not something we do – but this makes us want to come to your church.’”

W.O.W. organizer Jim Bates labeled this first event as “just practice.” Plans are already under way for the next W.O.W. Sunday.

“People were watching us,” he said. “I just felt we were a testimony and an example. You hear Christians say they do good deeds. The public doesn’t always see it, but on WOW Sunday they saw it!“

Resources

First United Methodist Church of Watauga, Texas

Change the World Book Site

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