Last week was a relatively typical week in the office at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Marion, VA. I don’t say typical to indicate that it was mundane or uneventful, because most every week something happens that could not be described as such. I use typical to mean that every week in the office, God is working and moving at FUMC.
I serve as the Director of Ministries at FUMC Marion, and have been in that position for a little over a year and a half now. My responsibilities are varied, but suffice it to say that my main areas are Adult Ministry and the Online/Tech side of the ministry. I work closely with our Pastor, Worship Director and Administrative Assistant on a daily basis. I want to try and give a picture of what it is like serving here, and especially all the ways that God is working. Indeed, if it wasn’t Him working, it would all be for naught.
Every week there are emails, phone calls, planning and online work to be done. This past week a few notable things happened, again that are not unusual, but rather have become the normal, beautiful workings of God in our daily lives.
On Monday a man called the office asking for help. This happens almost daily, and depending on the situation, we try to help. This man had called before. He has recently gotten out of prison and was wanting some help to get back on his feet. His last call was asking for help about getting his driver’s license back, so that he can pursue gainful employment. We were unable to connect with him to help on that issue, but Monday’s call was an encouraging update.
Our friend had gotten his driver’s license back and had a job offer! The issue now was transportation. He is a licensed, experienced plumber, but did not have a way to get to and from work. Now, you may think he was going to ask for a ride, a car or perhaps money for a car. Nope, his plan was to get a short term job at a local fast food restaurant in order to save the money needed for a down payment on a car. His request was to ask if we knew anyone who perhaps had a used bicycle that might help him get back and forth to work in the short term.
I have to tell you that this type of request was surprising to us. It is hard not to grow a bit jaded and cynical in the ministry when you see so many that try to take advantage of the church. This was such an honest and humble request that I felt that we needed to do anything we could to help this man.
I took the request to the pastor and he agreed immediately that we needed to help. So, by utilizing a fund in the church for this type of situation, we were able to purchase a bicycle for our new friend and deliver it to him. I dare say we were more blessed than he as we gave him the bike and had a good time of fellowship together.
So, that was just Monday!
On Tuesdays I have the privilege of helping to facilitate our GriefShare Support Group. This is my second cycle helping and it is a beautiful time of experiencing God’s love and grace through His children. This year’s group has a large number of widows and it is amazing to see them love on and care for one another. These folks are from all different churches and traditions, but we all come together for the purpose of learning, loving and supporting one another and God moves mightily each week. I am in awe of what God does each week with this group and the beautiful unity that we feel, especially in a time when there is so much division. I also love that what many churches offer for a fee (as there are fees associated with the GriefShare program), our church has committed for this service to be free to participants. Thanks be to God!
Now, it’s not that Wednesday wasn’t a good or special day. I was able to nail down two new small groups starting this fall, gather details about our Back to Church Sunday and begin planning to serve a meal to students at our local college campus in coordination with our community services organization. Many great things are happening and coming to First!
Thursday though, Thursday was extra special. One of the first tasks that I had as I started this job in January of 2022 was to bring our long standing Food & Fellowship ministry back inside, after the Covid-19 Pandemic. This is simply a free meal provided weekly, with a short devotion/service beforehand. Many groups within our church prepare meals, as well as other local churches and organizations. Due to the pandemic, it had been relegated to a drive thru meal pickup, going from 40 folks a week inside, to a dozen or so drive thru. After a slow start, there have been a few really awesome things happen in that ministry since I’ve been here. This past Thursday highlighted them all for me.
The move inside was slow, for participants and sponsoring groups. Folks were hesitant. But, numbers have been increasing steadily, and some new faces have become regulars. This ministry is directed toward those that may be in financial need, but all are truly welcome. Some of the new faces that I’m most excited to see every week are those of a local addiction recovery group that the church hosts on Thursday afternoon. It is awesome to see their involvement.
There are also some of the participants that are beginning to host a meal themselves. One mother came to me and said that we had been there for her and her kids all these years, and she thought it was time to give back. That is amazing. Aside from this, the general spirit of service to one another during this time is great. Many of the folks help serve and clean up, regardless of the group that is serving that week. We have several regular singers that lead us in worship before the devotion as well, and some beginning to ask to participate in the devotional time as well.
This is another one of those time where I am blessed more than those who come. Our prayer time is special each week and it is amazing to keep track of our folks and how God is working in their lives. This past week we had more than 50 folks attend the meal, which is the most since I’ve been here. Thanks be to God for what he is doing through this service in the lives of many each week, and I’m so thankful to all the groups that have stepped up to regularly serve in this area.
These are just a few examples of what I get to be a part of at First every week, and this is just from my perspective. There is much more going on in pastoral care, kids and youth ministry, and music ministry, and our Administrative Assistant (who really holds the whole thing together) could tell you countless stories, I’m sure. I just wanted to get a little bit of this down so that maybe some of our church family can see what goes on in the office. None of this would be possible without our church family. Their support in prayer and gifts truly make a difference for the Kingdom of God.