submitted by Chris Wilson (Rush Creek Christian Church, Arlington, Texas) and Rob Morris (Ridglea Christian Church, Fort Worth, Texas)
All faithful ministries begin with passion and faithfulness to serve Christ. The outreach effort for the Trinity Brazos Area (TBA) began in the same way. The goal was for the churches of TBA to come together in witness, service, and fellowship to serve the least of these in our own community. Habitat for Humanity was a natural partner that demonstrates a passion for justice to offer affordable housing and gives financially challenged families a new beginning.
Monthly planning meetings began in early 2011 to establish a plan for churches working together, creating goals and methods to raise the $62,000 needed to allow the house to be the Disciples of Christ Habitat House. It was quickly determined that a blend of collective fundraisers and churches including Habitat in their financial plan for 2012 would both be needed to make this effort possible. The planning group identified at least sixteen congregations that expressed interest in joining together to make the project a reality.
The results of the joint fundraisers have been outstanding in both attendance and dollars raised. The TBA planning team worked with Spring Creek Barbecue to have a multi-store spirit night in which 20% of the proceeds would go towards the Habitat build project. Each of the Spring Creek nights averaged 600 Disciples of Christ visiting one of numerous stores in Tarrant County. The total raised from the Spring Creek nights was $14,000. The Spring Creek Spirit Nights resulted in 22% of the money need for our overall financial goal. We also organized a Labor Day Weekend Music/Activity night at a local Disciples church that showcased music talent from various Disciples congregations. We had 300 Disciples attend and raised $2000 in one night for Habitat. Another Disciples congregation hosted a 5K run in which 130 walkers/runners came out to support Habitat and get good exercise as well. The 5K event also raised $2000.
Other fundraisers included an offering at the TBA Assembly, encouraging churches to collect an offering during VBS, taking an offering at all TBA summer church camps, optional barbecue lunch at TCU Ministers Week, an offering taken up by three congregations that shared in a joint Thanksgiving service. Overall, the fundraisers resulted in bringing in 39% of the money needed for the Habitat project and brought together over twenty congregations over a sixteen month period.
The remaining money to reach the $62,000 will be raised by individual congregations making pledges for the build over the 2011 and 2012 years. Congregations raised a total of $38,000 for Habitat. This is a tremendous outpouring of working together for God’s justice in the world and serving the least of these in our own local community.
The volunteer work of the project will be done jointly as well. We will begin the build in late September of 2012. Each work day will coordinate volunteers from different churches working side by side with the family giving of their own sweat equity. The weekly opportunities of hands-on ministry with people in need are uniting Disciples congregations. The house being constructed will be a literal act of justice as we seek to strengthen the house of God at the same time.
The Habitat for Humanity house is a vital ministry that is strengthening the work of the Trinity Brazos Area. A passion for justice is the mark of the church we are striving to live together as God’s people. Working together we can accomplish far more than we can living separate paths. The TBA is seeking to be the living Body of Christ today.