Tina Harris, pastor of the Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church in downtown Kansas City, pointed out the power and pitfalls of partnership during the Sunday evening session of the Missouri Conference.
“We could not do the work we do every single day without the partnership of many churches in the Missouri Conference. It is through your volunteer outreach that we are able to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ,” she said.
The congregation at Grand Avenue Temple isn’t large, but the ministry provided at the church through partnerships is extensive. The Lazarus Table started in the mid-1990s at Grand Avenue Temple to feed the hungry people at the door, and in the first year with the help of other churches it provided 10,000 meals. Since then the name has changed to Lazarus Ministries, and services include a clothing boutique; free clinic staffed by UMKC Medical Students; library; drop-in center; hair salon; free eye clinic and a women’s emergency overflow shelter. The shelter houses approximately 16 women per night and opens December – April, during the coldest months of the year when area shelters are overflowing and turning people away.
Harris said it is important to consider the length and breadth of the partnership, because eventually that partnership may end. “There may come a time when you are called to new directions, or you are called to a new, unlikely partner. It takes courage to say, ‘let’s partner together’,” she said.
Certain things may indicate when it is time to end a partnership. “If you are walking in faith and your partner is walking in fear, it is time to end the relationship. Fear and faith will never partner together,” she said.
One of the things Grand Avenue Temple is changing is to become a blessing to others. “When you are always receiving outreach, you forget that you, too, can reach out to others,” she said. “This year we are finding ways we can be a blessing to others.”
She invited teams to come to Grand Avenue Temple and join them as they do amazing things for God.