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A Texas church worships by helping others

A work crew from First United Methodist Church, Watauga, TX puts finishing
touches on a front porch. Photos courtesy of Marcy Sylvester.

Feb. 1, 2010

First United Methodist Church, a small, but motivated, congregation, set out to make a difference in the community of Watauga, Texas and found it also brought them together as a congregation.

In November, the 125-member congregation went to work as a Sunday morning worship experience. On W.O.W. (Worship Outside Walls) Sunday, teams of congregational carpenters, construction collaborators and cleaner-uppers decided to forgo their formal worship service and venture from the church pews out into local mobile home parks to make desperately needed repairs to the homes of older adults in the Fort Worth-area community.

“We took the idea of rethinking church very seriously,” said Marcy Sylvester, a W.O.W. participant. “We worshipped God by helping others.”

While the volunteers were building a handicap ramp for one of the disabled homeowners, a woman in a wheelchair stopped by, fearing for the welfare of the resident. Relieved to hear her next-door neighbor was just getting a new addition to her home, she told the work team she had not been able to visit for years because the trailer lacked handicap access. “Oh, I’m so happy,” she said. “Now I can visit my friend.”

Sylvester said that for many of the volunteers, the experience reminded them of when they were kids on a church mission trip.

“It brought the spirit of camaraderie and fun that went beyond the usual polite hellos and nodding at one another at church,” she said. “It brought us together as good friends.”

“It also dawned on a lot of us about how important it is to do mission work right in our own back yard.” Sylvester said. “We know it’s important to do international mission work—which we do—but people, especially the younger folks, like it when they can see, feel and touch the mission. They like to see the fruits of their labor.”

She also told of a curious couple that stopped by the work site wondering about the helpful hubbub.

“When they found out we were a church group, they said, ‘We’re not churchgoers—it’s just not something we do—but this makes us want to come to your church.’”

W.O.W. organizer Jim Bates labeled this first event as “just practice.” Plans are already under way for the next W.O.W. Sunday.

“People were watching us,” he said. “I just felt we were a testimony and an example. You hear Christians say they do good deeds. The public doesn’t always see it, but on WOW Sunday they saw it!“

Related Resources

Rethink Church campaign

Change the World Event

First United Methodist, Watauga, Texas

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