Cortland First United Methodist Church Faith in Action blessing bags
On Saturday Sept. 21, Cortland First United Methodist Church’s Faith in Action team gathered together to assemble blessing bags to help the homeless population in Cortland and Ithaca. Each bag contained a bar of soap, a washcloth, shampoo, deodorant, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb, electrolyte drink packets, gum, Chapstick, socks, two snacks, and a bottle of water. Forty-five blessing bags were completed. Once more socks and bottles of water are donated, the team will put together several more blessing bags. The items for the blessing bags were donated from Cortland First UMC, Homer Ave UMC, Harmony UMC, and Virgil UMC.
An element of beauty and meaningfulness was added to each bag with hand-painted cards by Cortland First UMC member Katherine Griffith. Katherine is in her mid-80s. She started painting when she was 80. Hurricane Harvey destroyed her home in Houston, TX, uprooting her life of 60 years. She moved to Cortland, NY to be close to her daughter and became a member of Cortland First UMC.
Divina Puukila, Cortland First UMC’s Missions Coordinator, wrote bible verses in each of the beautiful cards.
The approach to distributing the bags is unique. Heather Lane is the mission leader for Faith in Action. She and her husband Joe know homelessness first-hand as they themselves were once homeless. They know the homeless “hang-outs” in both Cortland and Ithaca. The Faith in Action team will bring the bags to the homeless population is their hang-out spots, showing Christ’s love directly to those suffering from homelessness.
Heather said, “My husband and I were homeless so that’s where the passion of this ministry comes from. We want to be hands-on because that will make a huge difference for these people seeing that they are cared about.”
The Rev. Eunice Kim is the pastor of Cortland First UMC. She explained how Faith in Action is just one of the seven ministries that are happening regularly at Cortland First UMC. She said, “Our emphasis is on the three Ls—the lost one, the last one, and the least one.” In addition to Faith in Action, Cortland First UMC has a food pantry and a clothing closet; they are involved with Dress our People, Quilting with a Purpose, and Operation Christmas Child and they also have a ramp ministry.
Cortland First UMC’s Faith in Action team invites anyone interested in volunteering to help with their projects. Their projects are listed on the ongoing volunteer section of the UNY Conference’s website.