Modeling the United Methodist Connection

By Rick Wolcott*

Blessings abounded in Parma on Saturday, July 30 as three North Coast District churches modeled what it means to be mission outposts for their respective communities.

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The pastors and laity from North Royalton United Methodist Church, Pleasant Hills United Methodist Church in Middleburg Heights, and Ridgewood United Methodist Church in Parma hosted an event that raised funds for area youth.

The first-ever Shred-fest/Car Wash/Bake Sale gave community members a chance to properly empty their files of no-longer-needed personal documents, get their car cleaned, and enjoy tasty homemade baked goods – all while benefitting OhioGuidestone.

The shred event was birthed out of the pastors’ desire to show their congregations the importance of supporting each other’s ministries, something the clergy members have enjoyed as compass group partners this past year.

“We saw an opportunity to show our communities the importance of working together and to help one of our East Ohio United Methodist health and welfare agencies,” said the Rev. Karen Wolcott, pastor of Ridgewood UMC and facilitator of the clergy compass group.

“This helps us to know each other better and to cross church and community lines,” said North Royalton UMC Pastor Matt Anderson.  “It gives the communities the opportunity to see us working together.”

And work they did.

They carried, and emptied into secure containers, boxes and bags filled with personal documents.  The containers were then weighed before their contents were deposited into a large shredding truck in the church parking lot.

Across the lot from the truck were well-orchestrated teams of soapers, scrubbers, sprayers, and dryers who transformed dirty vehicles into shiny ones worthy of display in dealership showrooms – all for just a donation.

“It’s great to see people from all three churches working together, getting to know one another, and having fun,” Wolcott said.

The fun continued all afternoon, even when heavy rain brought the work to a halt for a brief time.

“We really need the rain,” said Bill Cain of Ridgewood UMC, who was already soaked from washing cars.

The break in the outdoor action gave everyone a chance to move inside, consume baked goods, and engage in good conversation.

“Today’s event shows that we can rally our forces to support a good cause like OhioGuidestone and to fellowship together,” said the Rev. Bev Hall of Pleasant Hills UMC.

The churches raised $766.25 from the car wash and bake sale donations.  In addition they helped community members clear 2,550 pounds of documents out of their homes for shredding.

“It’s great to be part of this event because we are connected with these three congregations as part of The United Methodist Church,” said Kathleen Hall, Grant Project Assistant with OhioGuidestone.  “Parma is one of the many communities we serve in Ohio so being here at Ridgewood helps expose more people to the many services we offer.”

One of those services is a partnership with MyCom (My Commitment.  My Community), a network that connects greater-Cleveland youth with their communities.  You can learn more about this program, and OhioGuidestone, at the Tri-City Youth Development meeting August 30.  The 5:30-7pm meeting will be held in Conference Room A at the Parma Library, 6996 Powers Boulevard.

*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church, and proud husband of the Rev. Karen Wolcott.