Rev. Michael Bryant shares how God is at work in Yuma.
It was a Thursday, about mid-September of this year. As usual, I made my way to Lutes Casino for lunch. Lutes Casino is a busy lunch spot in Oldtown, Yuma, AZ. And on any given day you can find all kinds of folks in Lutes lunching and catching up on the happenings of Yuma.
God was working in a lot of hearts that day- and evidently in the hearts of the people at the table: “What are you all doing to help bring relief to the Harvey flood victims (the hurricanes had yet to make ground in Florida and Puerto Rico)?” “Am not sure- we have to do something- we want to do something, but what can we do?” said my friend. “We can do something big- and we can do it together as a community,” I said. And Yuma 1st will direct the project through the mission arm of the United Methodist Church-UMCOR!” Folks at the table broke out into contagious smiles as Laurie, the Manager of Lutes, who overheard our conversation, said, “Whatever you do, we at Lutes want to be a part of it!”
A few days later Sarah and David, owners of Solano’s Homemade Ice Cream in Yuma joined the team. And as the project unfolded and really took on a life of its own, the Yuma Disaster Relief Team consisted of 5 churches in the Yuma area and 6 local businesses who chipped in to provide storage, cash donations, collect items, provide discounts, and in a very big way, send employees, family and friends to the Takeover at Lutes Casino and the Help a Friend Event at Solano’s Ice Cream Factory, which were “benefit events” where a portion of the proceeds over 4 days went toward the overall cost of putting together the buckets.
After all were collected and counted, we gathered a team of fired-up folks to assemble the 100 Buckets of the (UMCOR specified) cleaning supplies. We set up the building, rooms and arranged supplies. The next day we put together the assembly line, followed by the actual assembly of each of the buckets on the next day! The whole project was carefully planned and carried out involving persons from the various organizations in Yuma. Jerry Van Rennes came from Chandler, AZ, to pick up the buckets, which to our knowledge are well on their way to UMCOR in Salt Lake City!
People have been asking why/how so many people and individual organizations wanted to work together? Why did they trust each other? The answer is simple: God had been working in the community of Yuma for months bringing together people to be in collaboration. We at Yuma 1st as well as Pastor Mike spend a great deal of time and effort involving the church in community events! And we “take the church with us” each time we set foot in any of the local businesses.
Finally, what’s next? Is there another project in the works? The Yuma Disaster Relief Team is already planning a community project for the winter months that will put coats, hats, mittens, and gloves on our homeless population!
First United Methodist Church of Yuma, Arizona, firmly believes that anyone can “Belong, Believe, and Become!” This story is just one example of how churches can build lasting relationships with their area companies or organizations and firmly establish the church as the hub of a community. How is your church living out the Initiative for Growth and Vitality?
Find videos and press releases about this project by clicking on the green button above. Find out more about the church by visiting www.yuma1st.org. Connect with Rev. Michael Bryant via Facebook at www.facebook.com/michael.bryant.9674227 or via email at .