2022 was a year that presented many joys and challenges. Many of our dear members passed away, and we were finally able to hold memorial services for those who passed during the pandemic and many more who passed in 2021-22. This is an important ministry for families and friends of those loved ones who are grieving and open to spiritual and emotional support. Not surprisingly, attendance at GriefShare classes remained strong with many survivors of loved ones needing more healing than ever! The 13 session program of GriefShare was repeated 3 times in 12 months and over half of the 31 persons attending were not LUMC members.
Stephen Ministers continued to make contact with 83 grateful care receivers who needed their presence and support. Some members picked up groceries and delivered them as well as prescriptions, and other supplies. The restored ability to make hospital and follow-up calls was very encouraging. Care center visitation was still guarded with masks required, but gratefully enjoyed by visitors and patients. Counseling and encouragement for volunteers as well as those in need was a daily activity. Members still requested assistance in facing the challenges of illness, relationship problems, finances, physical and mental decline. Many members needed help in finding the best available transportation, housing, home care, marital and relationship counsel, legal aid, meal delivery, and other community resources. Others needed emergency financial assistance.
Other responsibilities included: helping to lead worship, officiating numerous memorial services in late summer and fall, and one wedding, recording Dial-A-Prayer devotions, leading Amazing Grays and TNT meals in music and messages, regular visits in homes, care centers, and hospitals, volunteer training and supervision, program planning, and other duties as assigned. Pastor Linda and I shared the leadership of worship and mealtimes for most of June and July due to Pastor John’s retirement and Pastor Dave’s throat limitations until late August.
PRIMARY PROGRAM AREAS OF CARING MINISTRY
Stephen Ministry – Praise God for Stephen Leaders Jan Baker, Eli Reeves, Barbara Littlejohn, Joyce Steen, Kathe Wilson and Betty Stewart. I am honored to serve with such a gifted and committed team to head the 39 active Stephen Ministers in reaching out to our members this past year with weekly calls and visits of care and encouragement. These volunteers provide the opportunity for communion, prayer, Bible reading, and friendship in member’s homes who are facing difficult situations.
Christmas and Easter gifts were delivered to our homebound members by Stephen Ministers and other caring volunteers. This year each recipient was especially grateful for the gifts received. Eight new Stephen Ministers were trained primarily by myself and Pastor Linda. These 8 great new Stephen Ministers were commissioned and put to work.
Phone Friends – This group has not yet met since the onset of the pandemic, but many isolated and homebound people are called each month by these great volunteers. They call me when they discover a need that has to be addressed.
Homebound Day Out – is a special event that was held on Wednesday of the week of Valentine’s Day in February with 23 of our precious homebound saints in attendance.
GriefShare Support Groups – provide a safe and spiritual environment for healing and growing through the journey of grieving a loved one. Participants express a great appreciation for the tools and truths they learn, and for the new friendships they develop during this program. Several have joined LUMC as members!
People Abounding in Love & Service (PALS) – provides a new, more organized framework of volunteers to do weekday transportation, doctor visitation assistance, home handy-man service, financial organization, computer related help, and other valuable services. Several estate sales were held thanks to Susan Briner and her dedicated team of helpers.
Amazing Grays – provides a noon meal prepared by volunteer cooks and servers on Wednesdays from October through April. This fellowship meal makes friendships possible for those members and their guests who may not be able to attend our TNT meals or drive after dark. There is a game time immediately following lunch for continued fun. The average number who attended was about 50-60 and sometimes more. Many non-members attend this luncheon and the game time afterwards.
Transportation Ministries – include Sunday and weekday rides provided by our church. Sunday rides to the 9:30 a.m. worship service are arranged by our wonderful driver, Tim Kenny. Weekday rides are given by Tim in the bus or by volunteers in cars, as the individual need dictates.
Caring Ministry takes place every hour of every day as our pastors, staff, and members demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ in contacts with people in our community. Every week I hear of uncommon acts of kindness and generosity that members of Lakeview United Methodist Church perform. This is because the presence of God’s Holy Spirit dwells in them.
We are making a difference! We care for others. God is with us!