ST. MATTHEW UMC—The ministry team got cracking at St. Matthew UMC in Midwest City when Senior Pastor Ron Perceful called on the congregation to host a community-wide Easter egg hunt. After two months of preparing—and a few late-night egg-stuffing sessions—the church welcomed more than 600 people to an event last year that offered more than the classic egg scramble.
On April 1, St. Matthew’s expects an even larger crowd as the church again plans to greet and love participants through free Easter festivities from 2 to 5 p.m.
The church has created an entire festival celebrating the Resurrection. Live music by the church’s praise band, "Witness," filled the event last year. Talents surfaced in church members as they facilitated face-painting, pictures with the Easter Bunny, games, and crafts.
Hunts are by age category and occur throughout the event. The Egg Waddle will return, plus giant inflatable toys, cotton candy, and more.
The community is invited to serve others as well as enjoy the festival this year. The church is supporting two local missions: "Soup for Souls" and "Pennies for Pavement." Guests may donate canned foods for the Mid-Del Food Pantry and win prizes for those gifts, and they may contribute pocket change to the Mid-Del Emergency Youth Shelter.
Find out more online at www.stmatthew.org or on Facebook (St. Matthew United Methodist Church). You also may contact Sara Fisher, Children’s Ministries coordinator, 405-732-6831 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOCUST GROVE UMC—Locust Grove UMC has formed partnerships that culminated in two successful mission projects.
The church learned last fall that there was a significant hunger issue in the area, reported Pastor Cydni Tillery, and so the Food for Kids weekend backpack program was launched. Within one month, sponsors from the church and community had signed up to feed 30 children. Support continued to grow, and Food for Kids now serves 56 students at the local elementary school.
After a mission trip to Joplin, Mo., during the fall school break, Locust Grove Church partnered with a Joplin school. During the mission trip, the team had helped set up a library at Emerson Elementary, relocated due to tornado damage. The church sought other ways to help this school in transition. Students at the Locust Grove elementary also agreed to help.
They raised $136 with a loose-change drive, which the church used to buy a Christmas tree, and they made ornaments in their art class. Church members also collected holiday decorations. The tree and decorations were sent to the Joplin school.
LINWOOD UMC—Family-Day-Out is one new way OKC-Linwood Church is reaching into the community.
The free program, offered by the church’s Youth Department, fills an occasional Saturday afternoon with fun for children in kindergarten through eighth grade—and frees parents to do needed tasks. Family-Day-Out is offered every few months.
Linwood youth members as well as adults volunteer to direct the children in crafts and games. They serve snacks and show movies, too.
On Dec. 17, the young participants made Christmas tree decorations, did hand-painting, decorated (and ate) cookies, and enjoyed popcorn and hot cocoa. A Halloween carnival was held in October.
Josh Turner directs the Youth Department programming, which is called A.S.K. (Ask, Seek, and Knock). Anna Marie George is pastor at Linwood.
GRANITE UMC—Granite United Methodist Church has been awarded a $1,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to use in meeting the needs of the hungry in that community through the church’s Food Bank.
"Our congregation and community partners have maintained a food bank for families in crisis for several years, and we are grateful for the opportunity Walmart Foundation is giving us to serve more people in need in our area," said Pastor Linda Lusnia. "The Walmart Foundation grant will help us help others."
Baskets with a one-week supply of food are provided to the hungry, and additional supplies such as toilet paper and soap are included when available.
Rev. Lusnia said demand is typically highest during the last week of each month or when there are extenuating family circumstances such as illness.
ORLANDO UMC—An idea was planted when a member of Orlando UMC attended a session of the 2011 Local Church Leaders Workshop. The workshop leader asked, "How welcoming is your church?"
As a result, the United Methodist Women decided to convert a grassy area in front of the church into a flowerbed. The new landscaping highlights a plaque that commemorates the pioneers who established the church in 1889.
Despite a year when drought in Oklahoma played havoc with many plants, this flowerbed flourished, reported Orlando Church. The first planting included purple fountain grass, coleus, and two sweet potato vines that were very prolific. After the first freeze, those were replaced by winter-hardy pansies.
The project has spurred interest in additional improvements at the church.