On October 10, 2010, we decided to cancel our normal morning services and meet at Embassy Care Center to make the residents lives a little better. Here's a glimpse of what we did.
Photo's Courtesy of Tom Ruzinok Photography
Service To Be Service
Members of First Christian Church to Be the Church Staff report (Excerpted out of Wilmington Free Press, September 1, 2010)
The First Christian Church of Wilmington congregation will not be filling the church's pews on Sunday, Oct. 10. Instead, the men, women and children who attend services there will be out serving their community.
Pastor Dallas Henry recently followed a link in an e-mail that brought him to a website promoting the idea of joining thousands of churches nationwide who were choosing not to have services on Oct. 10, and who were choosing to go out into the community and doing a service project.
The initiative is called Don't Go to Church, Be the Church and it fits in well with the ideals of First Christian's religious leaders, who have come to focus on serving Wilmington rather than being a church in Wilmington.
"This is a very unique opportunity, because this is what we're about," Pastor Henry said. "That's what we teach here. We teach that it's great to come here on Sunday mornings, and I'm glad that everybody's here, but at the same time if they are not living this stuff and serving the community during the week, then what's it really matter?"
Henry tried to find a project big enough for a large volunteer force, that could have a lasting impact. Through his personal studies, he came across a passage in the book of James, Chapter one, "It says that to serve widows and orphans is what true religion is." Studying the passage in the original language, he adds, the words true religion could be clarified as genuine worship to God.
"It hit me that we have a nursing home in this town that really could use some help," Pastor Henry said.
The staff at Embassy Health Care Center is working on improving the outdoor facility for the Alzheimer's unit. They're hoping for handicap accessible picnic tables, raised flower beds that will allow the residents the opportunity to care for the plants and a flowering crabapple tree and bushes. They would also like some beanbag games and to have the gazebo in front of the building painted.
"That's all they've given me so far. But I left it with - we can do more than that," Henry said. The potential work force will be able to accomplish much more, he added.
The First Christian Church volunteers may come up with a multi-year improvement plan, since they have limited funds this year and Henry anticipates Be the Church will become an annual event.
"This isn't something we're looking at as a one-time deal," he said.
Not all of the service at the nursing home will include physical labor. Pastor Henry believes there are opportunities for everyone, even the youngest child, to make an impact. "Anybody can do something. You can have somebody who can't do anything but sit down and play checkers with a resident of the nursing home - but that's a significant impact. There are unlimited possibilities here."
After the work is done, participants are invited to come back to the church in Lakewood Shores to talk about their experiences. Be the Church will be the FCC's congregation blessing the Embassy Health Care Center, but the community is also welcome to join the project. Prospective volunteers should RSVP the church office at 815-476-6734.
1824 Church Street - Wilmington, IL 60481 - (815)476-6734