By Rick Wolcott*
The United Methodist Church continues to make a positive impact on the lives of people inside and outside the walls of its sanctuaries. Change the World weekend made headlines across the nation for the fifth consecutive year as thousands of volunteers became the living hands and feet of Jesus Christ in their respective communities.
Once again this year East Ohio congregations reached out into the communities to change lives and transform the world. Listed below are projects completed by churches in our conference that registered at www.umcom.org/changetheworld.
If your church is not listed below but participated in Change the World weekend May 17-18, please share your ministry with us by writing a comment below.
Hudson UMC (Canal District) walked in the 10th Annual Walk for Kids in support of OPEN M (Opportunity for People Everywhere in Need Ministry), which helps people throughout Akron meet the spiritual and physical challenges of living with scarce resources.
Lakewood UMC (North Coast District) did yard work and minor home repairs for senior citizens in the community.
Lodi First UMC (Firelands District) hosted a free community meal.
Lorain Faith UMC (Firelands District) hosted a book fair for neighborhood children.
Lorain Lighthouse UMC (Firelands District) provided 16-foot raised gardens to 20 families identified through the local elementary schools.
Mt. Zion UMC (Canal District) cleaned cemeteries and a school learning lab, assembled relief supply kits, did outreach to thank Sunday retail workers, raised funds to purchase mosquito nets, hosted a blood drive and served at three Christian-based organizations.
Mansfield Main Street UMC (Mid-Ohio District) knocked down old cabins and removed the debris to make the area ready for new cabins to be built for camps related to the local Blue Rose Mission.
Mentor UMC (Western Reserve District) hosted a Stop Hunger Now mobile packing event. The congregation raised $8,000 to purchase the ingredients and transport the meals. On May 17 more than 150 volunteers packed 30,000 highly nutritious dehydrated meals.
New Concord UMC (Southern Hills District) collected items for and packed five UMCOR cleaning buckets, which will be taken to Lakeside and placed on the truck at Annual Conference. The congregation also collected furniture to be given to the LifeWell Furniture Bank in Zanesville. The ministry of the Vineyard Church provides gently used furniture and appliances to needy families in Muskingum County.
New Philadelphia First UMC (Tuscarawas District) made placemats for Hospice House, built four wheelchair ramps, stuffed mailers for Big Brothers Big Sisters, cleaned the cat shelter and walked dogs at the Humane Society, made pizzas and played board games at the Juvenile Attention Center, passed out groceries and loaded vehicles at the Food Pantry, wrote letters to soldiers, police officers and fire fighters, prepared and delivered lunches and provided child care to work crews, painted an office at United Way, sewed Little Dresses for Africa, did landscaping at Harbor House, did interior tear out for renovation on behalf of Habitat for Humanity, provided yard work for Salvation Army and hosted a petting zoo to teach children how the animals they have donated through World Vision the past two years are utilized by their recipients.
Pleasant Hills UMC (North Coast District) held a Hunger Walk to the Middleburg Heights Food Pantry. During the walk participants collected canned goods, boxes of pasta, cereal, jars of peanut butter and jelly, canned fruits and vegetables, soup and other non-perishable food items.
Ridgewood UMC (North Coast District) served one of its free, bi-monthly Caring Dinners. These meals are provided at no cost to senior citizens and those in need in the nearby Parma Circle area. Approximately 200 meals are served, some eat-in, some take-out and others delivered by church members to people who are homebound.
Rockport UMC (North Coast District) hosted its famous all you can eat spaghetti dinner and collected items for health kits to be used around the world.
South Vernon UMC (Three Rivers District) assisted with an elementary school clothing drive and hosted a Malaria awareness program and offering.
*Rick Wolcott is director of communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.