Ringling United Methodist Church celebrates its 125th anniversary on April 19 and is moving ahead with two new ministries.
Bishop Robert Hayes will help the church mark this milestone date by preaching that day.
One of the new ministries loans out dresses and accessories to help girls mitigate the high costs of attending proms and other formal school dances.
The other, "Ringling in Recovery," is a Bible-based, Christ-centered approach to the Twelve Steps of recovery as used by Alcoholics Anonymous and other anonymous fellowships.
It’s the first year for the prom dress ministry, which is supported by donations both of cash and formalwear items.
Members Kelli Smith and Stephanie King have collected gently used formal dresses and accessories. The items are cleaned and stored, ready for girls to try on and borrow much like a lending library.
"We have mountains of lace, taffeta, and sequins, along with a great selection of handbags, shoes, and jewelry," King said.
The church family also has been instrumental in supporting the ecumenical team that has started "Ringling in Recovery."
"We got the idea from Cokesbury UMC in Knoxville, Tenn., where Mark Bebee and a team worship with over 400 people in the community on Thursday evenings," said Susan Marks, one of the leaders.
"In keeping with the mission and style of Recovery@Cokesbury, we serve a light meal, then have praise and worship via On Demand Worship on the Recovery@Cokesbury site," Marks said. "Rev. Bebee has been guiding us through this process."
The idea is to love people to Christ; to welcome them, talk about recovery in a Christ-centered environment, and show those interested how to work the 12 steps toward healing their "hurts, habits, and hang-ups," as one such worship group calls it.
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