On September 7, 2014, congregations across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will celebrate ‘God’s Work, Our Hands’ Sunday, an opportunity to serve our neighbors and communities. This tradition began last year as part of the 25th anniversary of the ELCA, as well as several congregations in our New Jersey Synod.
To help planning for this year, we wanted to start a conversation about what congregations were planning to do for this year or share what they did last year. Here are a few from 2013:
St. Stephen, Woodbury: The congregation prepared and then served a luncheon at New Visions in
Camden. The evening prior, the Confirmation class prepared a good portion of the meal, having a good time chopping, slicing, cutting and laughing. More food was prepared and brought to St. Stephen’s the next day, where a caravan was formed and we made our way to New Visions. The fellowship as well as the food was enjoyed by all.
Good Shepherd, Somerville: Youth and adults collected donations of canned goods at the Shop Rite, sharing 85 bags of food with Somerset Food bank. A luncheon of brats, hot dogs, salads, and desserts was prepared, delivered, and served at the
Somerville Senior Housing apartment complex, a low income housing unit, with two musical groups providing entertainment. Around 100 bags for toiletries were made by the women’s group and filled by members of the church for the Somerville Housing complex, which provides housing for low-income or at risk adults due to economic issues). At the main Interfaith Hospitality Network facility that houses homeless families, a ministry that Good Shepherd supports, volunteers came in to clean, repair and paint the kitchen cabinets, and others did landscaping. After completing the kitchen, the volunteers found other items in need of repair in the bathrooms and smaller items throughout the house which were not on the list and went ahead and made the repairs.
Holy Trinity, Maple Shade: This weekend coincided with the Maple Shade Sidewalk Sale, which turns Main Street a marketplace with food, vendors, games, a parade, and fellowship for the whole town. Decked out in our bright yellow shirts we gave away snacks and interacted with our neighbors. We
were able to meet some new people who were curious about our congregation, as well as promoting the upcoming Blessing of the Animals. It was a day when service to our neighbor in giving information and access to the gospel doesn’t feel like work but certainly makes an impact on the world. Our work on Sunday would be to give our flower beds a good weeding and lay down some mulch to prepare for the fall. Calls made to the township to offer our help with park clean up or something similar were unreturned so our service was kept close to home with visions for expanding in the following years. The grounds looked fantastic and everyone really had a wonderful time working together.
Prince of Peace, Princeton Junction- Our congregation came together to support Trenton Area
Soup Kitchen, a local hunger organization that provides hot meals and assistance for area homeless people. We made 100 bag lunches for people to take with them, and were supported by the local Thrivent chapter. It was great fun for people of all ages!
“‘God’s work. Our hands.’ Sunday reminds us that we are church together for the sake of the world. Our lives have been changed by our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and it’s that encounter with Jesus that frees us to make a difference. As you participate Sept. 7, 2014, in the dedicated day of service, may you witness the love of God, who knows and loves each one of us.” – Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
Feel free to comment below with what your congregation did last year or hopes to do this year. Let us share that love of God throughout the state of New Jersey and the world!
A few links:
ELCA God’s Work, Our Hands Day: http://www.elca.org/dayofservice