WOW! First Waxahachie coordinates a day of ‘Worship Outside the Walls’

October 09, 2019

"We will go out and serve the community."

 by Susan Craig
Volunteers Stacey Auvenshine and Ann Montgomery took their Worship Outside the Walls to help build a walkway.

First UMC Waxahachie is all about mission, community outreach and disciple-making. That’s especially evident around this time each year as the church takes the lead in coordinating an event called WOW (Worship Outside the Walls). The bright blue and yellow T-shirts adorned by the those who volunteered on WOW Sunday said it all: “The church has left the building.”
Opportunities for community service like WOW are sprinkled liberally on First Waxahachie’s calendar. While the benefits to the community are relatively obvious, the church’s rewards are a bit more subtle. A single event like WOW may or may not bring new people to worship on Sundays, but being a church known for outreach and an active part of the community certainly does bolster FUMC Waxahachie’s WIG efforts to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
“People come here,” said Jane Ann Shipp, FUMC Waxahachie’s director of communications, “because they know we are involved in so many different things.”
Rev. Bayard Pratt, pastor of Ferris UMC, delivers a morning message before volunteer crews begin their work.
This year’s WOW event took place Sunday, Sept. 29, and drew approximately 400 volunteers from eight area churches, including volunteers from Ferris Heights UMC, Central Presbyterian Church, What’s Happening Now Ministries, Connect 4 Life and three Baptist churches – El Bethel, Primera and Zion Hill – in addition to the folks from First UMC Waxahachie.
“Not only did we come together as United Methodists, we reached out across denominational lines and with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we had a wonderful WOW Sunday of sharing Christ and serving others,” Jane Ann said.
Social media carried this reminder several days before the event, “WOW is this Sunday. Don’t forget! Remember there are no regular worship services. We will go out and serve the community.”
Dr. Dave Linguist of FUMC Waxahachie greets Rev. Ray Johnson of Greater New Mt. Zion Baptist Church at a breakfast before the morning’s work begins.
The morning began with FUMC Waxahachie serving breakfast and ended with barbecue served primarily by What’s Happening Now Ministries. Then the various work teams went forth and offered worship and communion at assisted living facilities and nursing homes; called on the homebound; baked cookies and signed cards for first responders; prepared placemats and cards for Kairos; spruced up, cleaned up and made repairs at schools, homes, Hope Clinic and the Child Advocacy Center; worked in community gardens and on beautification projects within the school district; cleaned up a historic cemetery; chalked a walking trail; made dresses for girls in Africa and more.
Worship Outside the Walls is the brainchild of Rev. Kevin Wilson, who served FUMC Waxahachie from late 2002 to early 2013, and physicians Dave and Peggy Linguist, who have a real heart for missions. Within a few years, Ferris Heights UMC joined the effort, followed by Central Presbyterian. “From there it just kind of mushroomed,” Jane Ann said, and it’s been an annual tradition for seven or eight years.
WOW is outreach at its very best. “It’s fun,” she said. “All of these people are doing something in the name of Christ across our community.”
Photos provided by FUMC Waxahachie