By Stephanie Nieset with Photos by Sara Jane Sargent*
The Missions Team and members of Geneva First United Methodist Church (Western Reserve District) are turning the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic into an opportunity to be a blessing to neighbors serving on the frontlines in their community.
Members gathered in the church parking lot on May 19 and decorated their vehicles with balloons and messages of love and support. Stuffed in their trunks were sub sandwich platters, snacks, and beverages to be handed out to employees at six area long-term care facilities and over 300 handwritten, “Thinking of You,” cards to be delivered to residents of the facilities.
While sounding their horns and waving to neighbors, the caravan paraded through town, traveling to Pine Grove Healthcare Center, Geneva Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Sanctuary of Geneva, Rae-Ann Geneva, Geneva Shores Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, and Broadfield Manor Nursing.
Church member Sara Jane Sargent shared that as a bonus, “After the planned caravan, several vehicles proceeded to drive down Roosevelt Drive, horns-a-honking, to greet some of our own older members who live there and who are unable to get into church.”
On April 27, the group had gathered in a similar fashion and paraded in caravan to show appreciation and support to our local first responders. They delivered healthy snacks and beverages to Geneva Hospital, Northwest Ambulance District, the Geneva Fire Department, and the Geneva Police Department.
Rev. Randy May credits Wendy Brennan and the Missions team that she chairs for creating and organizing the new Caravan Ministry in response to the stay-at-home orders that were implemented in the State of Ohio in March.
“Our Mission Team wanted to help, encourage and continue to serve our neighbors here in Geneva, but wanted to do so safely, so they came up with the Caravan Ministry which was modeled on some similar projects we had seen on the news,” he shared. “The ministry continues to grow as additional ideas are suggested, more people want to get involved, and more funds are donated by members. The ministry is having a powerful spiritual and emotional effect on our community and on the members of Geneva UMC, too.”
May said that planning is underway for another caravan in support of additional frontline workers. If you would like to actively live out Christ’s call to, “love your neighbor,” and be a part of the next mission caravan adventure with Geneva First United Methodist Church, or if you would like advice on how to do a caravan in your own community, please contact the church office at (440) 466-2817.
If you have a story of how your congregation is answering the call of Bishop Tracy S. Malone to reach out to your community in creative ways, please e-mail EOC Director of Communications Rick Wolcott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Stephanie Nieset is a Geneva First UMC member who assists with media relations and Sara Jane Sargent is a church member who serves on the Board of Trustees.