La Croix United Methodist Church begins a program to connect with its community

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The congregation of La Croix United Methodist Church is ready to begin a purposeful 40 days.

Starting this evening with a kickoff tailgate gathering on the church parking lot, La Croix will begin its 40 Days of Community, a potluck picnic and worship service meant to prepare participants for what they're about to encounter.

La Croix has already been through the 40 Days of Purpose, a component of a Purpose-Driven Ministry led by the Rev. Rick Warren.

"The goal of 40 Days of Community is to water the seeds that were planted during the 40 Days of Purpose, and to help people take the next step to spiritual maturity and a meaningful life on earth," writes Warren on the Purpose-Driven Web site.

Like other churches that have taken on the Purpose-Driven campaign, La Croix will now work toward developing a community both inside and outside the church, said executive director Dan Steska.

While the congregation prays and works toward developing a caring, loving relationship within its walls, the members will also be reaching out to the community to help those in need. Small groups within the church have been meeting, studying a workbook and getting to know each other better through devotional reading and journaling before taking on a community project.

Volunteers from the small groups and others in the community are planning a "Mission Blitz" Sept. 29, Steska said.

"We're hoping to send out a thousand volunteers to go all over the community and do service," he said.

They'll be dressed in bright yellow T-shirts and will be busily spreading God's word through their actions.

"We'll be mowing grass, whatever people need," he said. "Hopefully people will see what caring is all about and want to help their fellow man."

Throughout the 40 Days of Community, volunteers will team up with agencies in the area to tackle scheduled projects:

* Help the public library move to its temporary location while the library building is being enlarged and remodeled.

* Help organize and clean the FISH food pantry.

* Repair and paint the Revival Center in Jackson.

* Entertain and visit with elderly residents at the Heartland Nursing Home.

* Make homemade goodies to share with the Boys and Girls Club, help the Boys and Girls Club with fund-raising activities and work with the young people in a variety of ways.

Creative acts of kindness throughout the community will include:

* Making lunch for construction workers.

* Repairing bicycles.

* Washing windows for downtown business owners.

* Giving away candy or other small tokens at a location with foot traffic.

* Handing out quarters at a local car wash for customers.

* Setting up a dog wash.

* Offering doughnuts to drivers in morning traffic.

* Setting up a stand to give away tomatoes and other goodies from participants' gardens.

* Giving away long-distance phone cards.

* Offering to clean bathrooms at gas stations and bars.

That's only a partial list.

Steska said that people in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Perryville, Scott City and Advance can look forward to seeing volunteers sharing their faith through their efforts in many ways. As the members of La Croix get to know each other and become more connected with the community outside the church, the idea is sure to take hold and spread, Steska said.

After the 40 Days of Community, Steska said, it's La Croix's hope that the idea will catch on and grow on its own.

"People will get a taste of this and sign up for ongoing ministries," he said. "We'll give people their first taste of fulfillment through service to others with the hope they will want to do more with the enjoyment of this experience."

Anyone interested in becoming involved can contact Steska at 339-0302.

lredeffer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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