2:30 P.M. EST April 14, 2010 | SAN DIEGO (UMNS)
Volunteer Martin Moss from Foothills United Methodist Church wields a
paintbrush in La Mesa, Calif., during “Impact San Diego.” UMNS photos by
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Take five United Methodist congregations; add a dash of inspiration,
a pinch of imagination and 750 eager volunteers in red shirts, and you
have “Impact San Diego,” a successful Rethink Church event.
People of all ages from the congregations and the community gathered
Sunday, April 11, to receive and complete their assignments.
“We broke it down to three areas,” said the Rev. Christian DeMent,
- assisting older adults in their homes,
- working at elementary schools and
- improving the environment.
Outdoor lovers gravitated toward repairing homes and doing yard work
for the elderly; tackling cleanup at lakes and parks; landscaping
church campuses; painting, planting gardens and beautifying grounds at
schools; and installing fences at a wildlife refuge.
Volunteers who preferred to work indoors wrote cards and letters to
the homebound, the military and missionaries, and served meals to
children and adults struggling with poverty.
Children especially liked assembling health kits for local outreach
ministries, creating placemats for a homeless shelter, making toys for a
non-profit dog- and cat-rescue organization, and providing socks for
people in poverty worldwide through the Sox-in-a-Box program.
“I love the church, and I just want to help,” said Matthew Naslund,
15. Joining church friends, he painted, washed windows and took out
trash at a nearby school.
Dorothy Relaford, 83, did her part as well. “I sang in the choir at
the opening worship service and looked out at the congregation. All
those red Impact Community T-shirts were so inspiring,” she remarked.
After singing, Relaford reported to the Casa de Oro School, which
her four children attended 50 years ago. “I took my grabber and picked
up trash,” she said. “Others planted flowers in window boxes.”
Pruning dead growth during “Impact San Diego” is part of the “job” of
Ken Lange from Foothills United Methodist Church.
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Lianne Moss, her husband and their two teenagers are active
Foothills United Methodist Church members. “It was so incredibly
enriching to be there,” Moss said.
She and three other volunteers went to the home of a woman, 93,
referred by Meals on Wheels.
“It was obvious she loved gardening, but her yard was a jungle,” Moss
recalled. “We had fun pulling weeds and clearing a pathway so this
sweet woman could enjoy her garden again.”
As the day concluded, the volunteers gathered at a shopping mall. A
jazz band provided entertainment, and community groups shared
information “to offer other ways people could serve on an ongoing
basis,” Relaford said. A restaurant donated 20 percent of its proceeds
to provide camperships for needy children and youth.
The sea of red shirts was an attraction, Moss said. “Strangers
stopped me and said, ‘I see your shirt. I love it. Tell me more.’ It
“One young lady had just moved to the area and said she was looking
for a church home,” said Moss. “I told her all about my church.” The
YMCA director approached Moss about involving Y youth in a similar
“It brought the whole church—young and old, traditional and
contemporary—together as one big family,” Moss added.
‘A church doing something’
While evangelism wasn’t the primary goal, “Impact San Diego” drew
attention to the denomination. “I think people identify The United
Methodist Church as a church that is doing something,” DeMent said.
Kylie Greaves holds a puppy up for adoption during Foothills’ project to
make pet toys for Second Chance Dog Rescue.
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San Diego was one of three U.S. cities
where Rethink Church events were held April 11—the others being Little
Rock, Ark., and Topeka, Kan. Rethink Church is a United Methodist
movement designed to remind people that church is not just a place but a
way of living—following Jesus’ example, serving those in need,
engaging in community and calling the world to more faithful life.
Cooperating with secular organizations was a plus, he said. Secular
groups “were pleased with our openness to working with them.” While
the congregations already were involved with many of the community
organizations represented, “Impact San Diego” invited people to serve
in different ways.
“For us to provide a volunteer base,” DeMent said, “helped the
secular organizations financially.”
DeMent is one of three clergy serving the 1,300-member Foothills
United Methodist Church. Members are planting a new congregation, and
DeMent hopes to make new connections with the community through a
follow-up event. “Many volunteers said they would like to do this more
than once a year.”
He was quick to credit a United Methodist Impact Community grant
with helping “to get the word out. We flooded the community” with
advertising, he said. The grants are provided through United Methodist
“Impact San Diego,” he continued, showed “our apportionment dollars
at work ... making a difference in our community” and engaging in
Andrew Naslund, 12, summed up his experience. “It was a great
opportunity to go out and be God’s hands in the community because
that’s what I think the church is about.”
*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist
News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., (615)
742-5489 or firstname.lastname@example.org.