by Rev. Dan Morley, North District Superintendent
An anniversary is a great time to connect — as it brings out those who have been long-time active members, new people who seek to be a part of the community, and those who have not been seen in a long time, but still consider Hope UMC to be a part of their lives. Folks circled up lawn chairs, sat around picnic tables, gathered at the fire pit, and enjoyed a game of cornhole — catching up on one another’s lives, meeting new people, and finding out about news in Bullhead City and the church.
Pastor Rob Lee put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Come on Dan, I want to show you something beautiful.” A couple of others came along as we walked down to the river. Pointing to a bench facing the river, Rob said, “There it is.” A couple sitting on the bench scooted to the side and asked if we knew her as they referred to the imprint on the bench — “In Memory of DeeDee DeLorenzo.” Rob said, “Yes we do. DeeDee was a long-time member and leader at our church, Hope UMC and she is missed.” The couple sitting on the bench said, the whole community misses DeeDee, she was a wonderful person.
DeeDee was a people connector and in many ways the glue that held the church and even Bullhead City together.
We walked back toward the picnic pavilion and a stone marker where Rob said, “You know this one, too.” The marker named the park area after a deceased member of the church, Don Sullivan. Don was also a leader in Hope UMC as well as the community of Bullhead City which he served as vice-mayor; his wife, Laurie completed the term after he died.
For 75 years, Hope UMC has been connected into its community to serve and make it a place of hope, grace, and compassion. An anniversary is sometimes all about looking to the past and the ‘good-old days.’ And there was plenty of that at the picnic. However, there was also talk of ‘what’s next.’
I noticed that the conversation at the picnic table turned to questions and concerns about the area homeless shelter and the need for it to increase its service, making more beds and meals available. Someone mentioned, “If it weren’t for Hope UMC, I am not sure the shelter would be able to remain open or at least it would be much less than it is.” Questions and conversation followed about what needs to happen next for the shelter — What can we do?
It was then that a Hope UMC member stopped at the table as he was introducing a guest to everyone. He had invited Sherrie, the federal officer assigned to the Bullhead City Elementary Schools. Her role is to give support to students and families who are housing and food insecure. He wanted the officer to meet the people of Hope UMC because they are always looking for ways to make a difference in lives, especially young lives. Officer Sherrie let us know that she serves the 118 homeless children of the elementary schools in Bullhead City.
Pastor Rob stepped to the center of the pavilion and called for everyone’s attention. “I know you have been meeting Officer Sherrie and hearing about her job of working with our elementary students who are homeless. I give you a 75th Anniversary Challenge to be the church which supports Officer Sherrie in caring for these children and their families. This is our future.” Everyone cheered and gave signs of support.
The wind was blowing mightily that day the people of Hope UMC gathered for their 75th Anniversary celebration in the park along the Colorado River. But more significantly, the Spirit blew through the lives of a faithful people seeking to connect to Christ, each other, and their beloved community.
Enjoy Hope UMC 75 Years Video — CLICK HERE