Springfield Woodside UMC gets vision for reaching poor, needy


“It seems people don’t necessarily remember what they are told of God’s love, but they never forget what they have experienced of God’s love.” (Sjogren, 29)

SPRINGFIELD -- Many of our local churches have become invisible to the communities in which they reside.
Woodside UMC, located in the Laketown area of Springfield, was once the center of civic activity in the community. Woodside listed 999 members on its rolls 40 years ago. Today, it lists less than 200. Eighteen months ago, Woodside told their Superintendent, “We do not want to die, what do we do?” They were told to pray, pray, pray! Listen for God’s will.
Woodside has been studying the book, Conspiracy of Kindness, by Steve Sjogren (1993). Sjogren uses the story of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:29-37) to illustrate what servant evangelism is. Woodside has begun modeling what servant evangelism with “no strings attached” is all about. Woodside has been looking at where they are, where God is calling them to be, how do they get to where God is calling them to be, and how do they move beyond.
By listening to God’s calling, Woodside saw a vision of reaching the poor and needy of Laketwon by providing assistance for food, gas, rent, utilities and medications. The opportunity was through opening a resale store, called Laketown Ministries, Inc., on Stevenson Drive where 20,000 cars pass by each day.  Laketown Ministries, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization of Woodside United Methodist Church. All proceeds, over and above expenses, go into a fund for assistance to the needy of the Laketown ministry area. The ministry area is a two-mile radius around Woodside church where there are 16,000 people living.
The resale store has new and used clothing, new and used shoes, books, videos/CDs/DVDs, housewares and holiday items that are sold at greatly reduced prices. Volunteer workers are the mainstay of the store and volunteers may work as little or as much as they would like during the two shifts, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. The store is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. The opening of the store has been made possible by a grant from the Larson Trust. The initial opening was Oct. 15 and the Grand Opening will be Nov. 5 at 11 a.m.
Woodside UMC is living out the vision of all the poor and hungry feasting at God’s table through its new outreach ministry, Laketown Ministries, Inc. Laketown Ministries is partnering and will continue to partner with Kumler and other outreach ministries in the Springfield area to provide assistance to the needy.
You may be a part of this new ministry by calling the church office at 217-529-2736 or the resale store at 217-679-5006 to volunteer. Donations will be accepted on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment. The ministry does not accept toys, appliances/air conditioners, TVs, or furniture.