Inspiring Local Churches
By Bishop Grant J. Hagiya | Photo by Wikimedia Commons, et. al.
Editor’s note: Bishop Grant J. Hagiya is graciously filling in for Conference Lay Leader, Joan Holms’ column this month on The PNW News Blog! Our Bishop has provided a special reflection for our laity and for the role they have in supporting their local church and community. Enjoy!
As I travel around our Greater Northwest Area, there are always inspiring stories of transformation that I encounter. From the Rev. Steve Ross in Oregon-Idaho there is the uplifting story of Vale United Methodist Church in Oregon. The church went without a pastor for a period of time as they waited on an appointed Elder from abroad to wade through the visa process to get into the U.S.
But the church took seriously their need to reach out to its mission field – and a few of the UMW elderly women decided to reach out to the local high school near the church. They wondered what they could do to make a difference at the school. They realized that some of the sports programs did not attract many fans, such as the women’s volleyball team. So in an effort to support them, members of the UMW decided to attend their games.
They would attend every home game, cheer for the team, and provide snacks for the players. As unlikely a pairing as this may seem, the two groups bonded, and the UMW women became passionate fans of the volleyball team. Likewise, the volleyball athletes loved the UMW women, and a bond formed between them. It is the start of what can be a life transforming process for two unlikely groups of people, but gives testimony to the power of the ministry of Jesus Christ.
Also, during this time without a pastor, the church grew in worship attendance from 28 to 40! New people started to come to the church in its response to reach out to its mission field.
As we continue to ask our local churches to engage their mission fields, what new community groups can you engage? Where can you make a difference in the lives of secular people all around you? How can you extend the love of the church in your neighborhood and community?
The Greater Northwest Episcopal Area (Alaska, Pacific Northwest, Oregon-Idaho).
Three things are necessary to connect with your neighbors. You need to know who they are, what they need, and how to welcome them, but first and most important of all you need to want to get to know them. This DVD helps you explore your community to find and build relationships with the people God has given you (your neighbors).