Joyce Parten, First Melbourne
Twenty-five years ago when big churches began to make their moves to the suburbs, away from the center of town with its old housing and commercially dominated areas, First United Methodist Church of Melbourne made a deliberately prayerful decision to stay in our same location so that we could serve the community around us. Many of our members are now drive-in worshipers by choice, and our outreach and missions include the community needs that exist in the shadow of the church steeple.
Our Church Mission- Love God and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
The elementary school that stands in our area has a low socio/economic student body with many second language students from families of a nearby private university. This combination provides distinct challenges for teaching and learning. Last year our pastors challenged our congregants to adopt this school and support the staff and students with our love, time and resources. This year a core group of 30 adults, plus the Youth Group, Missions and Outreach, have spent many hours reading to students, landscaping and cleaning the campus, and providing special events for teachers. One teacher and her spouse are now attending our church as a result of our presence. Others ask where our church is located and give us many thanks for our partnership.
- At the beginning of the school year, we provided 55 bags of supplies sorted using the list of teacher requested supplies by grade levels and used by the teacher when a new student arrived who could not afford supplies.
- Twelve faithful members go to first grade classes each week to help students improve their reading abilities. One volunteer now visits yard sales to stock her students’ classroom with appropriate and appealing books. Another member wrote an adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk and included characters they had read about during the year.
- Another group uses therapy dogs to encourage the children to read.
- At Christmas, our church prepared the staff a luncheon where each school employee was given a wrapped Christmas ornament. One teacher, when thanking us, said “We have been the forgotten school at the end of the road until now.”
- Youth and adults cleaned and weeded the campus.
- We helped create, paint and decorate a conference room.
- Something special was provided each day of Teacher Appreciation Week.
- The school named our church as their Business Partner of the Year.
Our goal is to be a long term presence in this school as we embrace them with God’s love and God’s work. We have just begun.
Up November 26…
Rini Hernandez, Southwest District Superintendent
Sharing his passion for making disciples of Jesus Christ, Rini calls all of us to join in the work of the Holy Spirit. Acts 20:24: “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”