Today I was asked the question every pastor should be delighted to hear, especially during Lent: “Father, I am looking for ways to connect my family to serving others in our community in the name of Christ. What are some worthy, local options for us to connect more intentionally connect to in Christian service?”
Here are some practical suggestions, based upon what I and others in the parish have done over the years, for getting our hands dirty in the service of others here in Jessamine County:
- Manna Ministries of Nicholasville UM: each Saturday (since 2008), the laity at Nicholasville United Methodist coordinate dozens of volunteers from church and community groups to feed as many as 150 local residents with a well-prepared hot, sit-down meal. This is an incredible ministry not only of feeding people, but of providing warmth, hospitality, and fellowship over a meal with a whole variety of people. Manna Ministries is an extremely family-friendly service encounter. Click here to learn more.
- St. Athanasius Sunday Bread Ministry: each Sunday (since 2010) from 12:30-1:15pm, parishioners distribute bread from Panera to families in need who stop by the church. The bread is high-quality, nutritious, and relatively fresh (day old). Volunteers participate in a rotation to pick up the bread from Panera on Saturday nights, bringing the bags and boxes of bread to the church on Sunday morning. Another group of volunteers serves on a rotation serving the bread from 12:30-1:15pm, greeting those who come to receive the bread. The distribution volunteers then take the remaining sweet breads to the residents of Rose Terrace Lodge (who greatly appreciate the treats.)
- The Jessamine County Food Pantry: has served the needy in Jessamine County since 2003! This year, our local pantry, which is a partner of God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, has served thousands of people in our county. The needs are great. The JCFP needs volunteers to:
- to help prepare for the primary distribution day each month (3rd Thursday of each month) by coming in the nights before the “big day.”
- to work on distribution day itself (usually 300 people receive food on the main distribution day.)
- to help out on the regular (but smaller) Friday morning distributions.
- to donate money so that food can be inexpensively purchased (8 cents on the dollar!)
- Jessamine County Coalition for the Homeless: is preparing to open (in summer of 2016) Jessamine County’s first shelter for the homeless. No doubt, there are many needs that are arising as the opening of the shelter draws near. You can follow the progress of this effort by visiting the group’s Facebook page.
- Grace Happens: is a 12-bed residential treatment home for women struggling to be free of substance abuse. Grace Happens, a faith-based program, has served women in Jessamine County since 2005. Read more about Grace Happens here.
- Revive House: is the first residential treatment home for men in Jessamine County, opening in 2016. Read more about Revive House here.
- Additional ideas for service:
- Jail Ministry at the Nicholasville-Jessamine County Detention Center)
- Visits to some of the homes for the aged such as the Rose Terrace Lodge.
- Visiting shut-ins from church or among old friends or neighbors. Nothing brightens the day of an elderly or infirm person like seeing a friendly face (with a child or two in tow!)
Here are some of my ideas. What ideas come to mind for you?