For God, the Faithful One, is not unfair. How can he forget the beautiful work you have done for him? He remembers the love you demonstrate as you continually serve his beloved ones for the glory of his name. Hebrews 6:10 (TPT)
UPDATE: ONE THEME FOR 2021
The Pandemic is not over but we’re beginning to look forward to the future with a bit more certainty. In view of that and because the normal we knew is not coming back, we’re going to focus on creating a new, better, and more kingdom like new normal, the kind Jesus was teaching us to build in the first place. We’re basing the theme for Pray. Act. Give. 2021 on John Wesley’s three simple rules: Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
To that end, we as a church and you if you so choose to will be focusing on finding and implementing ways we can serve the community beyond the walls of our church. We’ll be adding our projects and activities here on this post. If this inspires you to do something, we encourage you to tell us about it and allow us to share your project as well. Who knows? There may be others who like what we’re all doing so much, they ask to join us in our labor.
O, Heavenly Father, give me a heart like the heart of Jesus, a heart more ready to serve than be served, a heart moved by compassion towards the weak and oppressed, a heart set upon the coming of your kingdom in the world of men and women.
I pray tonight, O God, for all the different kinds of people to whom Jesus gave special concern and care when he was on earth:
For those needing food or drink or clothes;
For the sick and all those who are wasted by disease;
For the blind;
For the disabled;
For people suffering from life-shattering diseases like leprosy in Jesus’ time and HIV/AIDS in ours;
For those oppressed by any injustice, and for refugees and asylum seekers’
For the homeless, and all the lost sheep of our society;
For all victims of sexual exploitation and abuse;
For the lonely;
For all single parents;
For the worried and anxious;
For those who are living faithful lives in obscurity;
For those who are fighting bravely for unpopular causes;
For all those who are working diligently for you throughout your world.
Grant, O Father, that your loving kindness in giving me so much may not make me less sensitive to the needs of others less fortunate, but rather move me to lay their burdens on my own heart. If I should experience any adversity, help me to to brook on my own sorrows, as if I were alone in the world of suffering; but rather help me to take time to serve, with compassion, those who need my help. Let the power of my Lord Jesus Christ be strong within me and his peace invade my spirit. Amen.
— John Baillie from A Diary of Private Prayer
- Ask Spirit to help you set aside any preconceived notions and see the people you encounter locally as if you’re seeing yourself or, more importantly, as if you’re seeing Jesus.
- Ask Spirit to reveal to you those in the community most in need of your service.
The second step is taking action.
- Once you identify a need, take a personal inventory of your own talents, skills and resources.
- What can you offer your “neighbor” that will ease their burden?
- Do you need to seek some personal education on how to better understand their needs?
- If you’re in a position to work with others to make a better way, ask yourselves where you can have the greatest effect:
- Is the need you identified something you can remedy alone, or do you need help?
- Are there existing organizations that can help meet the needs you’ve identified?
- If there are no existing organizations, is it possible to put together a local grassroots group?
The third step is giving to support your actions:
- We often connect the word “give” with taking out our wallets or checkbooks and giving someone or some group money. Financial support is definitely a form of giving, but there are other forms of giving as well.
- Could you organize a yard sale, bake sale, or another type of event to raise any money needed?
- Could you reorganize your schedule to budget some time to volunteer with a local group?
- Do you have special skills that a local group is seeking?
Below are resources for your use during your period of prayer (discernment), action, and giving. To access them, just click the tabs.
- Prayer & Discernment Resources
- ACT - Union Grove UMC Virtual Community Center
- ACT - Union Grove UMC Community Garden
- Act - Existing Opportunities in the Wider Community
- Give - Existing Opportunities in the Wider Community
- Finding the Courage to Change
- When Love Seems to Fail
- Spiritual Life In a Pandemic
- Book: When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . . and Yourself is a non-fiction book by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. The book explores and dissects common perceptions on poverty and the means to relieve it, from a Christian perspective.
Virtual Community Center
We are facing a new normal that will continue to require use of digital meeting spaces. While you can sign up for free services for such meetings, they often come with limitations and the paid subscriptions can get pricey. We have a Zoom account that allows us to host meetings and gatherings for up to 300 participants. Community, social interaction, and celebration are necessary activities for healthy living.
We’re offering use of our Zoom resources to the community*. Need to book a virtual birthday, anniversary, or other family celebration? We’ve got you covered. Does your club or civic group need a way to meet? We can provide the means. Thinking of starting a virtual choir, band, rehearse a play? Yes, you can do that, too. And here’s the upside to Zoom. Every Zoom meeting comes with a link to participate via the Internet and a phone number specific to your meeting for those who don’t have Internet access, so no one gets left out!
To make a reservation for our Virtual Community Center, visit https://calendly.com/uniongroveumc/union-grove-umc-virtual-fellowship-hall-reservation. (Opens in a new window). If you have questions about using it, email our pastor.
*Union Grove UMC is opening its virtual (Zoom-based) community hall to use by members of our community. You may reserve up to 3 hours for your online gathering and include up to 300 people. Use of the virtual hall is free. There is no penalty for cancellations, however, we would appreciate it if you would cancel as early as possible in the event someone else could use your time slot.
Use of the virtual hall is not available for the following types of meetings:
- political parties, political action committees, political campaigns, political fundraisers, political meet and greets
- any activity that is illegal
- any activity that supports or promotes white supremacy, racism, or discrimination based on gender, lifestyle, ethnicity, or religion
- any activity that supports or promotes disinformation including but not limited to election results, QAnon, vaccinations, or vaccines
Union Grove UMC reserves the right to refuse, reject, cancel, or end prematurely any meetings that are found to be in violation of the above.
With steadily rising prices and the economic setbacks caused by COVID-19, eating healthy can be a challenge. There’s nothing healthier or tastier than homegrown vegetables straight from the garden, especially if you’re the one who grew them. What’s even healthier? All that fresh air and being out in God’s creation, spending time with your family and kids, sharing (or learning) gardening skills with a new generation.
Union Grove UMC has a fenced area (formerly a children’s play area) that we will be converting to a community garden. We’re planning to have everything ready for planting winter crops, although with enough volunteers, we could potentially be ready to sooner. If you live in an apartment or rental where you can’t grow your own vegetables, consider this opportunity. There is no cost to this. The only thing we ask is that you share any extra bounty with our food ministry (coming soon).
- The Blount County Office on Aging is looking for some volunteers to help with urgent senior home repairs. Please contact Joani Shaver at the office – (865) 983-8411. It’s a great way to take care of our “neighbors”!
- The Blount County Community Action Agency is in need of volunteers for a variety of activities. From their website: “We continue to be so proud of the folks who step forward to give of their time, energy and spirit, especially to help those who need an extra hand. Even in this time of precautionary isolation, we still need you to stand ready. We are anticipating that many of our seniors and programs will need additional supports. If you are able to volunteer if needed, please email Tammye Pirie at firstname.lastname@example.org, she will be in contact with you. We do anticipate that we may have some high capacity limits on our current telephone system. Respectfully, please email instead of calling to offer to volunteer, in efforts to support that our telephone lines are available to best serve our clients in need. Thank you for your incredible support.
Existing fundraising campaigns you can support:
- The “New Generation Project” will start with an All-Inclusive Playground to provide social interaction between children with and without disabilities. The All-Inclusive Playground and Pavilion area will be able to serve all children. People with disabilities are the largest minority group in the United States and the only one that anyone can join at any time. Your investment will help ensure that children with special needs will be a participant instead of a spectator and provide an opportunity for every child to be able to experience the freedom of being a kid. There are currently two fundraisers for the New Generation Project: