Working Together in Service at The Nehemiah Mission

By Rick Wolcott*

The East Ohio Cabinet recently spent the day working together in service at The Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland (North Coast District).

“As a Cabinet, a large part of our work is supervising the ministry of pastors and churches.  As a regular part of our meetings we worship together, we reflect together, we pray together, and here it is now we have an opportunity, and are being very intentional, in doing mission and ministry together, being engaged in mission, putting our hands to work together.  So that does my heart good,” said Bishop Tracy S. Malone.

“We really ask our churches to be bold, and creative, and courageous and out into their communities.  You know we’re asking them to kind of do hands on ministry, be involved in your community, so it’s fun to a part of that today,” said Dean of the Cabinet the Rev. Sondra Snode.

“We are really blessed to have Bishop Malone and the Cabinet here with us.  They’re learning more about what we do and their getting hands-on experience helping us,” said Pastor Jim Szakacs, executive director of The Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland.

“It’s really uplifting to come to a place where ministry is being done in a very effective way to reach new people who’ve never had a connection with a church before,” said the Rev. Dr. Steve Bailey, superintendent of the North Coast District.

The Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland is a program of the district’s churches.  It serves primarily as a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) hosting and receiving center for mission teams, but the mission’s reach beyond its walls extends halfway around the world.

  • It tithes 10% of tuition received from mission teams to support a church, a hospital, a school, and an agricultural program operated by the Ganta Mission in Liberia.
  • It serves as a neighborhood resource for outreach.
  • It operates an emergency pantry with food and toiletry items for people who are homeless or may have just been released from prison.
  • It provides space and volunteers for the Twice Blessed free store ministry of Rocky River UMC.
  • It creates programming for Cleveland’s west side community including the new Tuesday night Bread on Bridge meal and conversation, and the 311 trailer program which takes food and warm clothing directly to homeless encampments.
  • It runs a Boy Scout troop that has graduated 54 Eagle Scouts in its history.
  • And, during the summer It farms an onsite community garden and holds weekly outdoor worship services.

“Nehemiah and the Twice Blessed store that partners with it are shining examples of what creative ministry can be, of how ministry can help draw people into a relationship with Jesus Christ and into a community that cares about them.  In that regard, it’s really worth our time and energy to come here and see what’s possible,” Bailey said.

*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.