Free Methodist Church
Guiding theological question:
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Share one story that illustrates your congregation living out your mission.
The clock displayed 2:55 PM and our Communities of Calling discernment meeting was set to start in five minutes. Already lay people gathered in the library, eager to join in the discussion. I assumed the ringing doorbell simply signaled the arrival of another participant. But it was Ann.
Ann had become a familiar face at the church door over the past several months. She stopped by for counseling when her marriage fell on hard times. She came to ask hard questions of faith. She sought us out when her cabinets were bare and her gas tank empty. She joined us for our regular free community dinners.
But this day Ann didn’t carry herself quite the same; she walked a little taller and her smile was unmistakable. Immediately she shared her success. “I got a job at Dollar Tree!” I celebrated with her, knowing a steady paycheck would go a long way in helping stabilize her situation.
But she hadn’t come just to share her good news. “Do you have a green shirt? I need a green shirt to work there but can’t buy one until I get my first paycheck. But I can’t get a paycheck until I get a green shirt!” After a quick trip downstairs to our clothing ministry, Ann walked away with not one, but two, green shirts for her first week of work. We hugged, I prayed for her, and she left, vowing to return on Sunday morning if she wasn’t scheduled to work.
Our discernment meeting started a few minutes late, but Ann’s green shirt emerged as a guiding metaphor for our discussions. Eighteen months ago our congregation committed to remaining in this community, despite the many challenges of ministering in an urban, decaying neighborhood with an oversized, outdated building. With this recommitment, a new passion for engaging our neighborhood was slowly birthed. Through our Community Dinners, Little Free Pantry, Clothing Ministry, neighborhood activities, and outward focus, we’ve increasingly begun living into our mission of “Loving God – Serving Neighbors” by walking alongside those who are hurting, focusing on individuals’ assets, and making a difference one person at a time—a mission beautifully demonstrated by Ann’s green shirt.