Gouverneur First UMC successes in Mission and Outreach
April 23, 2018 / By Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Quick
One of the two priorities Gouverneur First UMC has is growing disciples who are engaged in mission and outreach. We’re working on growing in mission and outreach by connecting our community and congregation ever more deeply, loving our neighbors with concrete, hands-on and face-to-face actions:
- Every year, we host a “We’ve Got Your Back to School” event for families, offering backpacks, school supplies, and toiletries to students. We serve more than 100 students each year. We offer prayers for our families if they choose, and we invite them to connect with the life of the church.
- Our Friday Lunch Program is entering its 20th year. Each Friday, we serve lunch at the church and deliver meals to area residents. Additionally, each Thanksgiving and Christmas, we serve more than 300 people with a hot dinner. This program was started after the ice storm in 1998. During that time of community crisis, First UMC realized there was a need to connect with folks that we could meet. Friday Lunch is thriving and growing still today.
- Our Rip It exercise ministry started a few years ago and continues to grow. Several nights a week, a group gathers in our fellowship hall to participate in Zumba-like exercise programs. Many new faces have connected with our church for the first time because of this free fitness ministry. The Rip It ministry engages in mission giving, choosing different projects in the community to support with donations each month.
We have many worshipers at Gouverneur First UMC who are new to church, and just learning about what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. To help connect some of these new folks to our outreach priority, we engaged in a “Mission Exposure” event in 2017. We had a group of about 25 take an overnight trip to Syracuse where we stayed at The ROAD. We helped make and deliver sandwiches, learned about the work of The ROAD, and also spent some time volunteering at The Salvation Army. This quick 24-hour immersion experience was a great jumping-off point for exploring disciples. We also shared in a “Mission Extravaganza” night at the church. We shared in a potluck meal, and then heard presentations from various people who had engaged in mission work: a couple who went on a medical mission to Cambodia, a young adult who attended a seminar on poverty at the General Board of Church and Society, and a report from those who took part in the Syracuse overnight.
We’re excited about how God is challenging us to grow in discipleship through serving others, and we’re continue to look for ways that we can engage in the work of justice in the world.