(Indianapolis, Ind. – DNS – July 29, 2009) – Hundreds of Disciples have helped to share Christ’s love over the past three days as they have pitched in to clean up city parks, plant community gardens, paint classrooms at neighborhood centers, and lend a helping hand at a number of other community projects.
It’s all part of the mission work that brings Disciples together from the United States and Canada before each General Assembly to make a positive impact on the community hosting the Assembly.
By Sunday afternoon, church vans and personal vehicles were lining the parking lot of Southport Christian Church in Indianapolis where many people involved in mission are staying. Nearly 300 people of all ages have used Southport as their ‘mission station’ for where daily meals and a place to take showers are provided.
But each morning, dozens of Disciples have spread out across the city to share their special joy of service.
“I always attempt to be involved in the mission work that’s part of each Assembly, said Laura Odiorne, pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Burleson, Texas. “I feel it’s important for me and members of my church to be involved because it shows us how we are connected to the larger body of Christ.”
Kristu Williams and her mother also felt this Assembly’s mission work was important. They traveled to Indianapolis along with 20 people from their church, First Christian in Shelbyville, Ky. to help weed and declutter Kelly Park, a small plot of land next to Concord Neighborhood Center, that has been so littered with weeds and insects that children have not been able to play there.
“I’ve wanted to do more in not only my own community, but in other areas,” said Williams. “Knowing that you are helping someone else is a good feeling.
The 80 or so people working at the park two days before the official start of the Assembly were joined by General Minister and President Sharon Watkins who spent several hours with the group helping to clean the park. The efforts of Watkins, Odiorne, Williams and others will lead to a peace garden in the Concord neighborhood, an under-served community just south of downtown Indianapolis.
A Peace Garden grows food to feed the hungry and beautifies underutilized land. The gardens are a project of Global Peace Initiatives (GPI), which develops the gardens to demonstrate the value of cooperation and sharing. GPI started with only two peace gardens in 2007, but its efforts already have led to 22 community projects, including eight vegetable peace gardens.
"We are accustomed to working with large groups of people,” said Linda Proffitt, founder of Global Peace Initiatives. “Most of our work groups are made up of youth. But it’s also nice to have the presence of Disciples – which includes people of all ages – helping us to carry out our work.”
Across town, teams of Disciples were painting classrooms at Flanner House, a near Westside neighborhood center that runs a summer program for children. Hues of blue, green and yellow were being painted on the walls of classrooms by about 10 volunteers. Many of these workers were Disciples Home Missions/Week of Compassion interns who have been involved in other mission work around the country this summer.
“Today we’ve patched walls and helped to paint three classrooms,” commented Beth Guy, 21 of Kansas City, Mo. “Being here has been really cool. We’ve been able to meet some of the kids whose classrooms we are painting and it’s just been good to share Christ love with some of them.”
Volunteer work will continue even though the General Assembly has now started. A blood drive at the Indiana Convention Center, the creation of additional peace gardens, and participation by Disciples in an All-Assembly food drive on Sunday are just a few more of the upcoming service projects. Carl Zerweck of Disciples Home Missions and Brooks Barrick, Local Arrangement Coordinator for Mission Work have spearheaded the 2009 Assembly effort. To learn more about mission work at the Assembly, visit: (LINK TO MISSION WORK)
By: Wanda Bryant Wills