In case you missed the news, our church’s float won for best church float in the 2014 NLR Christmas parade. We started off with a truck and a UHaul trailer that looked about like this:
Our chief decorators, Julie Mott and Karen Hicks, came armed with only some cotton batting, some fringed tinsel, a banner and some packing tape. How could they possible hope to transform an orange trailer into festive (even award-winning) float?
The finished product looked like this:
Turns out we didn’t need a lot of materials–just a creative vision, some people willing to execute the vision and, of course, some really cute kids.
Our church is a lot like our Christmas float. Material-wise, we don’t have a lot to work with. Our budget this year is not any larger than it was last year–even though expenses have gone up. The amount of money pledged by our members doesn’t even cover the salaries of the people we employ, but we are blessed with rental income, the Gary Gault fund and other gifts throughout the year that keep us going.
And yet, in the past year,
- we added 13 adult and 8 new kid members this year (four of the latter were brand new babies!)
- the school that we help support with food on the weekends, Christmas presents and coats, won an award for being one the of the most improved schools in the state in math and reading. Teachers and staff there attribute our contributions as part of the reason for the success (full, warm kids do better in school than hungry, cold ones)
- we started a Sunday School program
- we financially supported at least seven organizations that serve the poor, the hungry and the homeless
- we began offering a free community meal once a month
- members of the church opened their homes to host our youth every month
- we have pledged to open our doors to homeless families in weather emergencies
- we got meals to people who were sick, lost a loved one or just had a baby
- we held Vacation Bible School in the summer
- we have a garden that helps feed the neighborhood (albeit sometimes on a greater scale than intended)
If you look at our budget, our attendance or our membership numbers, you would never imagine the scope of the ministry that happens here. We’re a lot like our award-winning Christmas float. We may not have many materials with which to work, but with a creative vision, some folks willing to execute that vision and, of course, all those super-cute kids, we are and can continue to be a transformative presence in our community.
–Rev. Anne Russ