PACE — Woodbine United Methodist Church’s April 30 service will start with music, as it usually does, but members then will leave the sanctuary and venture into the Pace community.
The church’s leadership scheduled a “Faith in Action” event to replace regular Sunday services with community improvement projects. This is the fourth year since 2011 that Woodbine has held such an event, according to lead pastor, Jimmy Allen.
“The movement is called Faith in Action Sunday,” Allen said. “That’s where I got the idea. I didn’t originate it.”
The church could schedule community service other days, and regularly does, according to Allen, but the purpose of canceling Sunday services for the event is for church members to not just go to church but be the church.
“We go out into the community as an act of worship and an act of service,” Allen said. “Worship doesn’t happen on just Sunday morning, but your whole life.”
Another purpose is to ensure the people whom church members help feel valued.
“We’re … serving them as they are,” Allen said.
Canceling service for the event also starts conversation, according to Allen.
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it, you shall do no work…,” the Bible states in Exodus 20: 8-10.
Allen only received objections to the event from those who didn’t want to miss a normal service. For anyone challenging Sunday community service on biblical grounds, Allen referred to Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath who couldn’t walk for 38 years. The story is in John 5:1-18.
“I think I’d go back to what Jesus did,” Allen said. “The Pharisees were more concerned with the man carrying his own mat than being lame 38 years and healed. Jesus didn’t care what day it was but the work that helped someone out.”
“If Jesus can serve on their Sabbath, why can’t we serve on our Sunday?” Allen said.
This year, teams will construct three ramps to give handicapped people easier access to their homes. Other projects include lawn care, house cleaning, house repairs and delivering food to volunteers.
The event will end at different times, depending on the project.
“Some people’s work will be done by noon,” Allen said. “A ramp usually takes about three hours, sometimes longer. It depends on experience.”
People from outside of Woodbine UMC have aided past Faith in Action events, according to Allen.
“We have members of other churches that want to help, but don’t recruit to leave their church,” Allen said. “Anybody is welcome. We’re happy for them to do that.
“Our goal is not to steal sheep.”