Means of Grace Tip: Seeking the Common Good

An idea from Tuscola UMC (Iroquois River District)
In order to establish a baseline of familiarity with scripture, our entire congregation was invited to read through the New Testament in a year. Approximately 150 booklets with the reading schedule and reflection questions were given to those planning to participate. During the time the congregation was “on the same page” reading the New Testament, and opening ourselves to the leading of the Spirit, a couple of significant new ministries were developed to reach out to the community.
PASS (Providing After School Safety) is a child care ministry for students from Kindergarten – 6th grade. PASS reaches out to the families in the community who might not be able to afford child care from established providers. This ministry provides low cost care for up to 40 children, where they have time for recreation, a snack, a time of spiritual formation, and homework help. A director, two teachers, and a number of volunteers work with the kids every afternoon. The congregation tries to further reach out to our PASS families who are not connected with any church, by inviting them to special events, meals, worship, etc. It’s an exciting ministry that is now in its second year, and we feel blessed to be able to offer it. This ministry helps us remember to create places for new people.
The Abundant Market idea surfaced about the time when many were beginning to experience the effects of the recession. The Abundant Market is an open air farmers market of locally made or created goods, which particularly encourages entrepreneurs to develop a small business to supplement their family income and become vendors on Saturday mornings from June – September. Vendors pay a very low rental fee for space each week, and the community has the opportunity to purchase fresh garden produce, homemade baked goods, craft items, and other unique items. This ministry can provide a way to reduce poverty as we empower people to use their imaginations and support the establishment of a business. This also gives lay people and the pastor the opportunity to represent Christ and the Church in the community, as the sponsoring body of the Abundant Market. The market was abundant enough last summer, we intend to offer it again next summer.
Where will the Spirit blow us next? We’re not sure, but the people of Tuscola UMC try to be open to experiencing the wind of the Holy Spirit in profoundly new ways.