Friday, February 13, 2015

A small church serves, reaches out, grows

Rev. Kathy Harvey Nelson is a quarter-time pastor of a very small, rural congregation in York District. Salem United Methodist Church in Martinsville has a regular worship attendance of 32-35 persons (up from 18-20 persons in July 2013) and recently celebrated paying their full Shares of Ministry in 2014 for the second year in a row.

Each year on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, this small church hosts a car show and pig roast that in 2014 drew in excess of 400 people. More than 100 cars entered the show, with trophies being awarded in a variety of categories. There was a band playing blue grass/country music and a silent auction.
“We opened the church so that folk could walk in and sit in the sanctuary, and we offered a box for written prayer requests, which was used by a few folk,” said Harvey.

At the 2015 car show, the church will be doing a “blessing of the cars and drivers” before giving out the trophies and adding some organized children’s tables/games, etc. “It’s all about sharing love and laughter with folk who aren’t with us yet.”

After recently hearing a presentation on the Bishop’s Partners in Mission initiative, Harvey didn’t know if her congregation would be able to meet the “tithe of worship” partnership challenge issued by Bishop Park, but she left the meeting with a couple of ideas that she wanted to try.

One Sunday, Rev. Harvey used one of the Sunday worship services to talk about being in ministry to all the world, and talked specifically about the fourth Sunday offerings that the church collects for selected mission projects.

“We usually receive about $20 to $30 in those offerings each month. The offerings are given to four different mission projects throughout the year. This year, one of those projects will be the Bishop’s Partners in Mission,” said Harvey.

In addition to choosing the Bishop’s Partners as one of the special mission projects, Harvey explained to her congregation what needs would be met by the monies received, and the Bishop’s vision for being a connectional church that is alive together in Christ and moving forward in mission and ministry for the transformation of the world.

Rev. Harvey is thrilled to report that one of the couples in her congregation gave $100 to become Bishop’s Partners, along with her daughter (who lives and works in New York City but is still connected to the Susquehanna Conference) who gave $100 to be a Bishop’s Partner. Rev. Harvey and her husband also gave $100 to become Bishop’s Partners. In 2015 Salem UMC will combine three “fourth Sunday offerings” with the goal of raising $100 so that the whole church can become a Bishop’s Partner. With those contributions, they have exceeded the tithe of worship attendance challenge to become Bishop’s Partners in Mission.

“I am so proud of my little country church and their heart for mission and ministry. They are good people who want to be the church and serve Jesus wherever and whenever they can. I give thanks to God for them and for the gift of my appointment there,” Harvey exclaimed.

“Our prayer is to continue to serve our community where we are planted in any way that we can. May God be praised.”

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