More than 800 people took part in the second Afternoon of Service at the 2011 Kentucky Annual Conference. Projects included delivering food to local food banks, assembling health kits for UMCOR, making repairs and distributing books at Ida Spence Mission, and serving meals at Immanuel UMC’s Grace Campus. There was also a blood drive.
We asked AOS participants to share their memories of June 10, what they did and where they saw God that day.
Betty Rush, Settle Memorial UMC (Owensboro District)
During the Afternoon of Service, I helped with the UMCOR Health Kits. I see God as these kits, including the bare necessities, are distributed to persons who have lost everything during a disaster.
Steve Pescosolido, Trinity UMC (Columbia District)
Prayer Walk Leader – Madison Ave. to 12th Street
Looking through a large window on the second story of the Convention Center, our Prayer Walk group was given a visual tour of the city. Since the rain was so heavy, we elected to find a vantage point where we could see our assigned route. The window we found looked south down Madison Avenue – through the very heart of Covington. The group learned of the struggles of church life in Covington. Being the former Grace location pastor (Immanuel UMC), I shared with the group the realities of life in Covington. They learned of the challenges to establishing a church in Covington. If a church does open, that new congregation will have to work with the homeless, with the addicted, with the mentally ill, with the single parent family, and with the occasional committed Christian. The group learned how the city administration tries to push the homeless and low-income persons south – away from the riverfront. They learned that Covington used to be place of large congregations and now is almost devoid of functional congregations. They learned that Covington used to be a place of crime, vice and sexual immorality and is now trying to clean up its name. They also learned that there are places where persons can eat lunch and supper for free. And that there is a cold shelter in the winter months.
After I shared about these challenges, each person in the group took an area of need and led the group in agreement prayer interceding for that need. The eight person group prayed for at least these needs in Covington: Churches, Addictions, Community Relationships, Employment, Homeless persons and Help Agencies. This was a very needed and meaningful ministry that the members of the Annual Conference offered. I am glad that the Annual Conference offers so much help in so many areas in Covington and surrounding cities through the Afternoon of Service.
Charles & Mary Ann Brockwell, Fourth Avenue UMC (Louisville District)
We participated in distributing books to children in the Ida Spence Mission neighborhood. It was a joy to talk with the young moms and their children in their homes, and to visit (Latin, visere -- to look upon attentively) briefly with others sitting outside their apartments that hot afternoon. We believe people received an affirmation from the United Methodist Church that, "What happens to me matters to God."
Mary Jo Cain, Flemingsburg First UMC (Ashland District)
I went to my room and arrived late for the afternoon of service. My name was not on the list, and I had forgotten my shirt and left it at home. I went in anyway and worked on cutting labels for Red Bird Missionary Conference. With sore fingers from arthritis, I worked with scissors. Everyone was working hard at the project. One of the fellow workers took notice of me and asked if I needed a massage. He said that I was working hard. He came over and gave me a massage. I told him that another lady there was having neck problem and he gave her a massage also. How blessed we were to have someone to give us this special treatment.
Val Johnson, Smith Chapel Circuit (Elizabethtown District)
My husband, granddaughter, and I served a meal at the Echo Kitchen. Our granddaughter Piper, who is 7, was very concerned about the children who came in and felt that it was her job to make them feel at home. She greeted them and asked how they were. She shared her gum and even prayed for one child who told her he was afraid sometimes. When we got into the car she told us this: God used me today as hands and voice of love to help those children know Jesus cares. We were blessed.
Michael McArter, Milton UMC (Frankfort District)
I was glad to have the opportunity to serve as a member of the group who wrote the Agape letters. This was my first time to serve in this area, and I appreciated the gracious leadership of Ken Jessee and Howard Reynolds (who both have the gifts to equip a group for the task and put the participants at ease as well).
Those of us at my table shared our sense of hesitation about what to write (writer's block?), but after a time of sharing our self-doubts, we settled into our work. It was helpful to have the names and addresses of United Methodist Missionaries to write, and we were provided the paper, envelopes, and cards to use freely.
I definitely viewed it as a ministry of encouragement (in the manner of Barnabus, "the son of encouragement or consolation," as he is mentioned in Acts 4: 36).
I attempted to offer words of hope, inspiration, and prayerful support in the cards and letters I wrote. I reminded the missionaries that their work had not been forgotten by the Lord or by persons such as me. I expressed the thoughts that although I did not understand what they were going through, at the same time I offered prayers for the Lord to richly bless them in their missionary work and to lift them up as they faced the challenges and trials that confronted them along the way.
We did not know any of these persons we wrote, but I believe it was a good way to live out our connectionalism as United Methodists as we attempted to demonstrate friendship and Christian love by writing these letters.
A by-product of the afternoon of service was the wonderful fellowship and sense of Christian spirit that was taking place around our table(s) as we shared this work together.
This is what the afternoon of service should be all about!
Johnny E. Craig, Vine Grove UMC (Elizabethtown District)
I wrote agape letters to missionaries as my Afternoon of Service area. Having been on one out of country mission excursion to Honduras some years ago, I had some idea of what they do, at least a taste. As I prayed about and wrote words of simple encouragement, I felt somehow connected to the persons in mission full time. We all have challenges in life and ministry, and I felt like the letters could at least give them a lift should they be experiencing some sort of discouragement. I know how it feels to get a small note or letter from someone occasionally, and how it encourages me. I also prayed for each one in the letter and as I wrote and kept the list for prayers even now.
OmaDell Rounsaville, Camp Ground UMC (Elizabethtown District)
I met senior ladies at the Covington Ladies' Home, where we washed windows and cleaned porches. We were really impressed with the "at home" atmosphere of this residence which began for single and senior adult women. I have always had a special place in my heart for senior adults, and I experience God as I try to do special errands for these treasures of God's love.
Bill Rounsaville, Camp Ground UMC (Elizabethtown District)
My name is Bill Rounsaville, pastor of Camp Ground Church near Bonnieville. I visited the Covington Ladies' Home, a residence begun in the 1880s for single and senior adult women, some of whom were displaced by flooding.
I washed windows, and I met with several residents, one of whom came from Vietnam. She is from Saigon, and she told me some of her experience with the U.S. presence in her country during the Vietnam War.
I often take advantage of such living history when I can, since the best witness comes from one who was there!
I was impressed with the homey atmosphere of this residence--its cleanliness, its comfort, and beautiful decor.
My father once reminded me that if I live long enough, I will age. When I do, I will appreciate visits from persons I know and love. I try to keep this lesson in mind when I experience God's presence through these precious lives.
Michael Harris, Herndon UMC (Madisonville District)
I am the pastor at Herndon UMC. We went to Master Provisions for our afternoon of service. They are an amazing company. They receive free clothing and other materials and then sort and send it to different countries. We assisted in sorting and packing for the winter clothes and then regular clothes for Ghana, Africa. One of the workers, Mark, shared with us that the employees of the company serve as missionaries for the company. They must raise their own salaries from their local churches and other area churches. What a wonderful way to be on mission if you are not comfortable traveling overseas. I thought Mark and the other men were very genuine and kind in their desire to serve our King, Lord Jesus.
Marge Welch, Christ Church (Louisville District)
I was lucky because we did something that seemed worthwhile. The organization was Master Provisions. They collect clothing around areas in the USA and send them to economically devastated countries. There are 7 employees and they raised their own salaries. Obviously they depend on volunteer help.
We went to a very LARGE warehouse, which had walls of bags filled with donated clothing. It was VERY HOT that day. We stood at a long line of tables and the plastic bags were dumped and then we sorted. We removed anything worn or damaged and then divided the items for Uganda (hot climate) and for the Baltic area (cold weather). Everything was re-bagged and made ready for container shipment. It cost more than $8000 to ship a container. They gave us a spiel on their program, and I was impressed about the large amount of commitment for such a small group.
Alisa Carman, Custer Circuit (Elizabethtown District)
This was my first Annual Conference and it was a joy to have the opportunity to serve. The choices in which there were to serve were in many areas that interested me, but I found myself writing letters to the "Marines." My father was a Marine and he instilled within our lives patriotism for country and the flag. My heart was touched as the words flowed from my pen onto the paper. Encouragement, support and just a simple “I appreciate you.” Sharing the love of Christ, his forgiveness and strength in each letter... I prayed for the Spirit to touch the heart and mind of each recipient. Assuring them that they are in our prayers as we celebrate July the 4th right around the corner & being grateful for our service men and women. But it was a blessing not only to serve, but to make new friends at the table who were also serving our Awesome God!
Ralph Martinez, Earlington First UMC (Madisonville District)
The project I worked on was sending letters to missionaries and military men and women. It was wonderful to see so many people involved in such a worthy cause. To thank others for their dedication to serving Christ in the field of the world. And then to write letters to men and women serving their country and its beliefs. I'm proud to be called a Christian as so many in this world are.
It is people like these that make us what we are. It is pride, in serving others, and sharing our love with others. What a great day it was in that room, God walked among us, from table to table and person to person.
Gale Wetzel, New Bethel UMC (Bowling Green District)
There was a new area of service this year. There was a team of 5 who went to the Kenton County Jail. They were Tom Wilson, Mike Canada, Lynda and C.G. Collins, and Gale Wetzel. Tom Wilson brought the message on Forgiveness. Mike Canada led the singing. C.B. and Lynda gave their testimonies. Gale Wetzel led the service. It was a blessed day at the Jail, and we saw God in the faces of the men. Several men prayed to forgive others and others asked for forgiveness. We plan to do this again next year and hope to take at least two teams. One for the men and one for the women. If anyone is interested, let Gale Wetzel know (firstname.lastname@example.org).