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Desert Mission Lives Out Their Vision

by | Oct 31, 2014 | Not In USe

courtesy of Wesley Center

Part 3 of a 3 part series

By DSC Communications

There are a lot of choices for Christmas charity. After all, it is part of our culture and our faith to be generous and thoughtful at Christmas, but everyone gives for different reasons. How can you know which Christmas outreach project your church will support? If you chose a new Christmas outreach project for your church to support, would more members support it? Three church members in the Conference were interviewed about their Christmas outreach efforts. This third in a series of three case studies will provide you some insight into the hearts and motives of volunteers at Christmas.

Study #3 of 3: Eileen Christianson of Desert Mission UMC (Scottsdale, AZ) co-chairs a Wesley Community Center Christmas Adopt-A-Family project and finds her way back to church.

Image courtesy of Becky KerrDesert Mission UMC (DMUMC) has a website that boasts “extravagant hospitality.” It wouldn’t be a far stretch for them to boast extravagant generosity as well. DMUMC member Eileen Christianson has helped coordinate the Wesley Community Center (WCC) Christmas Adopt-A-Family project at her church for the last four years. The church project continues to grow and the members now adopt 20 children and five adults for Christmas. The Adopt-A-Family project lives into the DMUMC vision of being “called to bring Christ to others through worship, fellowship, growth and service.” Their WCC Adopt-A-Family project provides a gateway for fellowship, service, and generosity. After Christmas, the members of DMUMC continue to support the underprivileged families of WCC through monthly food drives, tutoring services, and a back-to-school drive to further this mission work.

What brought you to this ministry? When I first started going to DMUMC, the head of the mission committee at our church approached me and said, “You seem to really enjoy this, and you’re already doing everything anyway, so would you like to chair this project?” It makes it easy to have a co-chair as well. She does the speaking and organizing, and I do the running around.

What keeps you doing this ministry? Adopt-A-Family is fun, and the outcome just warms your heart. Doing this kind of work for others brought me back to the church after falling away. Mission work actually makes you want to go to church and this work is something anyone can do. We borrowed an artificial tree from a church member and set it up with angel tags in early November on a covered patio. Of all our Christmas outreach projects, the angel tree tags are the first to go. It has become a tradition. Each year we need a bigger tree!

What has been your most rewarding experience in this ministry? The families we adopted often send a Christmas card, sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish. Their letters show us what our efforts have meant to them.

Wesley-AdoptAFamily-BeckyKerr2What has been the biggest struggle with volunteering for this ministry? The timeline for this ministry is a challenge. We get ready for Christmas in November and have to turn in the gifts to Wesley Community Center in early December. The biggest struggle we experience though is that there are often not enough tags on the tree to go around. It is our most popular mission project. When the tags run out, we ask people to donate unwrapped gifts for UMOM or JUSTA Center.

Do you have any wisdom or advice for those wanting to take part in this ministry? Give it a go! Our church has lots of other Christmas options, like care packages for troops, and a glove and mitten drive for homeless vets. Don’t worry about watering down your missions by adding Adopt-a-Family. The more the merrier! People at our church like all the options, and are more generous than you might think. It’s heartbreaking to hear at drop off that the center had tags left over. Be a blessing to those in need and participate.

What are some of the ways you reflect on and/or celebrate this ministry after an outreach opportunity or event? We celebrate immediately afterwards by having lunch together, but we also read a thank you letter from Wesley Community Center at Sunday worship right before the offertory. The border of the letter usually includes pictures of the families.

In what ways do you share this ministry with others? Three or four of us match tags and gifts, group gifts together, and stuff the gifts into big black bags. I think smaller groups in ministry together are a great way to get to know people, and ultimately get more people involved in the church.

For more information about participating in the Wesley Community Center Christmas Adopt-A-Family Program go to http://www.wesleycenterphx.org/Christmas%20-%20Adopt%20a%20Family.

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Author: DSC

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