by Beth Evers, Senior Pastor
University United Methodist Church
A major part of Christian leadership is becoming aware of opportunities for ministry. It’s hard to miss a major ministry opportunity at University – Paschal High School is directly across the street from our building! Since about 2012, the congregation has been intentional about watching for opportunities to reach out to the students, faculty and staff at Paschal. Our leaders have helped the congregation reach across the street with grace and hospitality.
That fall, at a back-to-school pool party for the Paschal High School band, the band suffered a tremendous loss when one of its members drowned. Knowing the band still had to march at the first game of the season, University’s Jackie Walker began to pray about what the church could do to reach out to the grieving students. With the support of the congregation, Jackie’s desire to reach out evolved into a pre-game dinner for the band, its directors and volunteers. Church members left work early, rearranged plans and showed up en masse to cook food, sit with band members, write cards of encouragement, pass out water bottles and offer prayer for the young people. All it took was one person noticing a need and being willing to answer that need.
As we continue to emphasize engaging with the Paschal community, members notice more within the life of the school. Last spring, members noticed a group of parents camping out for days waiting for the opportunity to register their child for a highly desired place at Paschal. The weather was chilly, and these parents were sleeping in tents and in their cars as they waited. Leaders from University organized gifts of hospitality, and a large group of members greeted the camping parents on Sunday morning. As the group walked toward the camping parents, we noticed the parents began to tense up and look anxious. We passed out coffee, donuts, and words of encouragement and the parents began to laugh, “We were so worried all of you were here to register your children. We weren’t ready to camp with this many people! We never thought you were here to serve us.”
The leaders at University are intentionally looking for ways we can serve, love and minister with the Paschal Community. We are excited about a new ministry that began last fall. Berry Sweet Babies was born out of Brenda Prickett’s dream to start a clothing closet at the church. By the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Brenda and a team of leaders were given the idea of opening a baby clothing boutique for pregnant teens attending Paschal High School. They met with the counselors at Paschal, who were thrilled about the idea and affirmed the great need for such an outreach. Berry Sweet Babies is an expression of grace that University offers to young moms at a time they need it most!
We are so excited that our leaders are intentional about listening for God’s guidance and recognizing ministry opportunities with Paschal High School!