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The Courageous Church Award recognizes churches who are living into the mission of the Conference in courageous ways. This year, the Vital Faith Team and the appointive cabinet awarded the 2020 Courageous Church award to Haven United Methodist Church.

Haven UMC is the only active congregation in the small mountain town of Jerome, Arizona. With an average attendance of 16 people, Haven UMC is serving over ten times that number of their neighbors through their Food Pantry ministry. Over the last three years this ministry has grown from serving 15-25 families to serving over 70 families and over 185 individuals each week. Most of the people who attend Haven UMC volunteer at the weekly Food Pantry so that the people who come for food get to know the congregation. The atmosphere they have created is more of a community than just a place to get food. People come for the food, but they stay for the fellowship and friendships that are developing. Many of the Haven congregants feel that this ministry is another faith community as important as their Sunday worship. Vicki Lerdahl, the pastor at Haven, provides pastoral care for people who come to the Food Pantry. The church serves not only their neighbors in Jerome; they also serve children and families in neighboring Clarkdale and Cottonwood. They collaborate with other community partners to not only get food but to share what they do not give away. These partners include Mountain View UMC, Wholesome Foods, St. Vincent de Paul, Vinnies Pizza, Manzanita Outreach, and others. This Food Pantry ministry is breathing new life in the church as well as the community.

Haven UMC began this ministry to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and pour out unconditional love in 2007. They have not stopped seeking to hear the needs of others and provide a haven of love and acceptance to everyone. The members believe with God will supply whatever or whoever they need in order to serve in the name of Christ. Amazing relationships have come alive in the community. The Wednesday food ministry has become the church alive in the world! This Vital Faith gift award was surely Holy Spirit guided. Haven UMC will continue to serve with their hearts and strength in the spirit of love, to glorify Christ for as long as they are called to serve in Jerome.

To find out more about the award qualifications or how to apply, visit https://dscumc.org/new-and-vital-faith/courageous-church-award.

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