A New Vision, A New Voice ~ The North Texas Conference
Message from East District Lay Leader – August 2017
Guidance on how to help those in need for the long term – Notes from the 3rd Annual NTC Laity Event
By STEPHEN GILLEM
East District Lay Leader
On Saturday, August 19, 2017, the North Texas Conference held an event titled “A Common Fount of the Laity” in Carrollton, Texas, at Aldersgate UMC. It was a full day event highlighting some of the wonderful programs occurring in our conference and ideas of programs we might want to begin in our home churches. Bishop Mike McKee spoke about the importance of the Laity and we also had impactful presentations from a wide range of speakers including:
- Rev. Marji Bishir Hill spoke about mission projects.
- Ashley Hall and Keya Tollossa from “Union Coffee House” in Dallas discussed some new ways they hold worship services that is reaching people who would not have gone to church otherwise.
- Gardening programs for the community was presented by Terri Barrett at Aldersgate UMC.
- How to work better with other churches in our community was presented by Dr. John Kay.
We wanted to point out a few specific items from Marji Bishir Hill about fishing! Not trot lines and channel cat, but teaching those in need how to better help themselves.
She pointed out how we often do a great job of Emergency Relief, but miss the opportunity to help individuals or a community over the long term. This can lead to dependency on our gifts and programs versus equipping and enabling those in need. Here’s an overview:
Emergency Relief: urgent and temporary aid
- We’re giving someone a fish vs. teaching how to fish
- Examples include food pantries, soup/dinner kitchens, clothing drives, charitable aid, and disaster response
- These are important and wonderful missions, but more can be done
Individual Betterment: equipping people with skills, abilities, and self-confidence to provide for their own basic needs — more challenging, but more rewarding
- Not just helping for today, but for the long haul. Not just giving someone a fish, but teaching them to fish.
- Examples include:
- Literacy programs for adults
- Career/application/resume/job search and networking skills
- Project Hope helps families who want to move from a life of hard work in low-paying jobs to a life in which they can provide better for their family by earning more money through scholarships, tutoring, budgeting, and more
Community Development: efforts that increase the wealth-generating assets of a community, self-sufficiency, and support producers who create opportunities for others
- Teaching the village to create a FISH MARKET vs. giving them a fish
- Examples include:
- Habitat for Humanity: working with individuals to help them build a home for long-term stability and a stronger community
- Heifer International: giving a farm animal and growing a business
- Charles Mully Children’s Family: removing homeless children from a hostile environment, provide food/clothing/shelter/education
While the programs for individual and community development are harder, they help those in need get out of their cycle of poverty.
Here are some of the missions that might be of interest for your church:
The program goes beyond “giving someone a fish” and gives them one farm animal, then teaches how to raise and run a small business doing so. This helps entire communities and significantly changes lives.
Similar to Heifer, but with crops vs. farm animals, the program goes beyond “giving someone a fish” and teaches them how to raise crops.
Zip Code Connection
In our own backyard, it works to end poverty for families through Community Engagement, Education, Health, Economic Development, and Faith.
Helping families facing hard times get back on their feet by helping them get into a home until life is restored. No administration cost, so 100% of donations go to serving the community.
U.M. ARMY (United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth)
Based in College Station, Texas
Generally week-long programs for youth and adults for home repair and maintenance needs of low-income, elderly, and disabled homeowners who cannot do so themselves.
Body and Soul Homeless Ministry
St. Paul UMC: www.stpaulumcdallas.com/index.php/connect/outreach
While it provides emergency relief for those in need such as hot meals on the weekends, it also provides for individual betterment like identifying the obstacles a homeless individual has for obtaining housing. They also track and supporting the students they help from the program.