In 2011 an estimated 22,000 people from 400 churches went into the local mission field on the weekend of September 11 as part of the Serve 2011. As the weekend wrapped down, the question on many people’s hearts were, “Can we do this again next year?” A small group met at the Missouri Conference Center on February 1 to begin considering what Serve 2012 can become. The weekend for Serve 2012 is September 8 -9.
“I’ve been with the Conference 39 ½ years, and we’ve never had an event that involved so many congregations on one weekend,” said Max Marble, director of the Office of Creative Ministries.
Rev. Bill Kenagy of Waynesville UMC fully embraced the idea last year. His church was involved in a wide range of service that weekend, including roadside cleanup, helping Habitat for Humanity, working at the animal shelter, giving out quarters at the laundry mat, shopping for the food pantry, tending community gardens, organizing materials at head start, and cleanup work at the women’s shelter, to name a few.
“The church was out in the community,” Kenagy said. “There were 200-plus volunteers involved.”
The weekend at Waynesville ended with a celebration at an apartment complex, complete with bounce house and praise band.
Currently the group is considering ways to promote the weekend, branding strategies, and ways to help guide churches to consider the possibilities that a local mission event like Serve 2012 can present. Last year, many churches that engaged in local mission in a more active manner than they had previously, decided to make their mission work a regular part of what they do all year.
It was discussed that now mission is often the doorway for new people to become involved in church. People who may be hesitant to attend a worship service on Sunday morning will engage in a church-organized work day that is making a difference in the life of others.
“Mission can be the piece that makes the church accessible to others,” Marble said.