Worked Together As One in Christ … Becoming God’s Hands to Those in Need
Read the story of how Liberty Grove UMC, various youth activities and youth ministries, a public high school football team, a Girl Scout Troop, 2 UMC Conferences, a middle school summer camp, the United Methodist Women, one seminary and three additional United Methodist congregations all worked together to live out and live into Christ’s command to “love our neighbor.”
On June 2, 2016, Mission Central in Mechanicsburg, PA put out an email plea for Clean-Up Buckets from UMC congregations. At that time, multiple flooding disasters throughout the United States, and especially in Texas, had led to the shipment of thousands of these buckets to those communities most in need … and had led to the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s (UMCOR’s) remaining supply of these buckets now being in critically low numbers. After several conversations and a lot of prayer, some members of Liberty Grove felt called by God to provide the coordination and leadership necessary to help with the Clean-Up Bucket resupply efforts. A plan had been put in place to help as we were able.
On Sunday, October 2, 2016, the Liberty Grove church bus was put into action (along with two personal SUVs belonging to LG congregants) to transport 292 Clean-Up Buckets from Messiah UMC in Springfield, VA. These buckets were funded by a line item in their church budget, were mostly assembled that
morning by worshipers of every age as they departed that morning, and then loaded onto the bus by an inter-generational group of their congregants.
Later that same evening – during our weekly MYF – the Youth Group of Liberty Grove created a human chain to unload, and to neatly and safely stack, all of these buckets into our Fellowship Hall.
Over the next few days, the leadership of the Liberty Grove Mission HUB gathered all of the items necessary to complete the buckets, and even added 20 more buckets to the pile in the Fellowship Hall (buckets which had been assembled by Liberty Grove’s MorningStar Day Camp Middle School Community Service Crew over the summer).
The next step came when the Liberty Grove Youth Ministry partnered with the Paint Branch High School Varsity Football Team. On Yom Kippur (Wednesday, October 12, 2016 – which was a day off from school for students in Montgomery County), fifty-five student athletes, as well as some of their coaches, opted to forego “sleeping in” to come to Liberty Grove at 9:30 a.m., where they participated in a non-mandatory team service project. They were given a full breakfast (wow, they can eat!) by a group of 6 adult volunteers, several of whom took a morning off from work to serve. Not only did these amazing young men finish assembling and verifying all 300+ of the Disaster Relief Buckets, but they were also able to complete and verify more than 120 School Kits as well.
On the very next morning, October 13th, Mission Central sent out another email – this one entitled “Witnessing Hurricane Matthew’s Destruction.” In this email was a letter from their Communication Coordinator, Adam Hoover, which included this sentence: “As we were going through South Carolina, my thoughts went to Mission Central. It’s easy to talk about the need for cleaning buckets or donations, but it’s an entirely different perspective when you see, first-hand, what the word ‘devastation’ really means.” It was then that it hit some of us who had worked to make these buckets a reality….it was “for such a time as this” that God had called us to action more than 4 months earlier.
On the morning of Friday, October 14th, two members of St. Matthew’s UMC in Bowie, MD brought a box truck to Liberty Grove, and more than half of the now-completed and verified Clean-Up Buckets were loaded and transported to Mission Central in Mechanicsburg. Unfortunately, the only problem was that the other 150 wouldn’t fit in their truck! But that’s okay, because St. Matthew’s will be picking up and transporting these remaining buckets on November 18th. And just an fyi, while loading from the Liberty Grove HUB that day, they’ll also be picking up more than 100 School Kits assembled and verified by a local Girl Scout group on November 13th….and 36 additional buckets assembled by Faith UMC in Rockville on November 10th and verified by our MYF Youth Group….and 100 School Kits assembled and delivered to the Liberty Grove HUB by the students of the Course of Study Summer Program of Wesley Theological Seminary (which were funded by the Wesley Learning Resource Program of the United Methodist Women of the Baltimore- Washington and Virginia Conferences).
We give to God all the credit, all the thanks, and all the glory. For it is by and through God’s limitless grace and love that hundreds of people across three states and the District of Columbia were able to serve connectionally – each one doing what they could with the resources they had, each one working individually, yet also working together as One in Christ. May God’s blessing be upon the work of the many and varied servants whose efforts made it all possible, and may those who receive these Clean-Up Buckets and School Kits know that each one is filled with not only supplies to help, but also with the prayers of those who made them….and the saving love of Christ Jesus.