By Kristin E. Van Nort
After hours of voting and ministry reports July 20, South Central Jurisdiction delegates and guests traveled across Oklahoma City to UM Church of the Servant to participate in hands-on mission service.
More than 200 had registered to work in "Stop Hunger Now," UM Advance Project No. 982795. They assembled and packaged 50,000 nutritious dehydrated meals to be distributed globally.
"As we concluded the afternoon business session, Bishop Hayes said, ‘We do enough for ourselves. Let’s do something for other people.’ This is exactly why we are here," said D.A. Bennett, an Oklahoma Conference delegate and the senior pastor of OKC-St. Andrew’s. Rev. Bennett hopes to implement Stop Hunger Now in his church.
"This mission project impacts so many individuals and families. We are providing meals they may not otherwise have. This is one of the things God calls us to do—provide for the hungry," said Herschel Beard, also an Oklahoma delegate and a member of Madill-First.
Scott Smith, director of discipleship at Church of the Servant, helped organize the jurisdictional mission. He became familiar with Stop Hunger Now three years ago, when that congregation first participated in the project and he coordinated the effort.
"Stop Hunger Now gives us the opportunity to bring our entire congregation together for one cause. With so many ways to serve during the project, we’ve taken out the barriers of age, ability, and cost that often limit participation. Everyone can participate," said Smith.
Volunteers prepared the meals by serving in several capacities including: filling food bags, weighing and sealing the bags, and packing the meals into boxes for shipment.
As volunteers each did their parts to achieve the goal, they also had opportunities to fellowship.
"I think it is incredible to see the teamwork in putting together food for so many others. People are visiting, laughing, and singing hymns as we work. It’s truly a joyous atmosphere," said Elizabeth "Wink" Mueller, a member of Plano (Texas) First UMC.
Oklahoma delegate Joe Harris, coordinator of the mission project as well as co-chairman of the jurisdictional conference’s host committee, encourages those who participated to take the idea back to their annual conferences and local churches. He hopes future jurisdictional conferences also will include mission service.