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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    news article

    Being the Change in the city of Syracuse

    June 18, 2019 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    What would a day devoted to being the hands and feet of Jesus throughout a hurting city look like? Beautiful Mess Ministries, a Christ-centered movement that uses music and missional experiences to change culture through changed lives, illustrates a day like this through their annual “Be the Change” event.

    “Be the Change" in the city of Syracuse is a Saturday filled with music and service as churches, businesses, and community groups come together to be in mission with partners around the city. The mission is to unify in music and mobilize in mission. This year on June 1, this ecumenical effort brought smiles of hope and healing throughout some of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged communities throughout Syracuse.

    Brown Memorial United Methodist Church, a Beautiful Mess mission partner, was one of the sites where two of the 10 missional events took place on this sunny Saturday. Brown UMC is known for opening its doors to members of their community. Located on Syracuse’s West Side, this neighborhood has been verified as one of the most concentrated areas of poverty in the United States.

    One of the events at Brown was a carnival for youth of all ages. Small children waited patiently for face paintings, played carnival games, and jumped for joy in the bounce house. Several tweens and teenagers had their nails painted and joined in on some games with the Liverpool United Methodist youth group. Youth of all ages were able to plant seeds in pots to bring home.

    A free lunch was served to the dozens of community members who came for the carnival.

    Mary Hoy is a member of Liverpool UMC—she brought the Liverpool youth group to volunteer at Brown Memorial UMC.  She said, “Today has been awesome. This carnival is a great opportunity for kids to get outside, get some exercise and fresh air for free. It’s hard to find free fun…and this is a community that definitely needs it.”

    In addition to the carnival, Brown Memorial UMC also had give always from their Clothing Closet which provides, at no-cost, brand new clothing to people who need it. While the kids played outside, their parents or caretakers had the opportunity to shop for new clothing or household goods. Individuals who sought hope and healing also had the opportunity to be passionately prayed for in Brown’s fellowship hall.

    “Be the Change” ended with a concert at Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse University Chapel. Tim Ehrhart, one of the founders of Beautiful Mess Ministries spoke about the healing that took place throughout the city through meals served, Blessing Bags distributed, and more. He said, “This wasn’t only about kids having fun at a carnival and hungry people getting served meals, it was about being covered with Jesus.”

    Over 150 volunteers participated in “Be the Change.” One of the band members compared “Be the Change” to Nehemiah and other Israelites rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, symbolically rebuilding strength in peoples’ lives.

    In addition to “Be the Change,” Beautiful Mess ministries offers volunteer opportunities throughout the year as well as nights of worship. The next Worship Night is Friday July 12 at Brown Memorial Church with two mission opportunities that weekend as well. For more information, visit

    With more than 134,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 85 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."