When Saying Good-bye Means Saying Hello
In August of 2013, after fifty years of shared ministry Wee Care Day Care announced that the decision had been made to cease operation. Understandably the congregation at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) mourned this loss. Originating out of a seen need in the community, the day care center was one of the first in the community. In the early years, members of the congregation had served as board members, directors and guiding lights as affordable childcare was provided to children in our area. In the later years, the oversight had moved to an independent board but Mondays through Fridays our Fellowship Hall and basement classrooms were filled with the sounds of energetic toddlers and pre-schoolers. With the closing of the center, there was much to celebrate and much to mourn, there were many questions regarding what God had in store for us next. So being Disciples, we formed a Task Force, whose members included Bev Harper, chair, Ann Bowman, Board Moderator, Jeff Forret, Evangelism, Sharon Grems, Rich Harper, Elder Chair, and Beth Rupe. This Task Force was to consider ministry needs and opportunities that would allow us to use the space that was now empty. And, the Task Force did a marvelous job.
In June of 2014, in partnership with the Church of Peace, a United Church of Christ congregation in Rock Island, our congregation became a meal preparation and feeding site for a grant funded summer meal program for children between the ages of 1 and 18. Every Monday – Friday morning, our cook Yvonne arrived to prepare an average of 375 meals daily to be delivered or served to the children who arrived between the hours of 11 and noon for a hot lunch. The response of the congregation was great. Over 500 volunteer hours will have been clocked from June 9 to when we wrap up on August 8. Meals have been delivered to four sites in Moline, lunch to two and breakfast and lunch to two. Children have been served most days in our Fellowship Hall. While I cannot say we have fed hundreds in our Fellowship Hall, we are happy with our initial efforts and are committed to an ongoing partnership with Church of Peace next summer to continue in this ministry of feeding hungry children.
In keeping with the gospel understanding of how we are to feed the hungry and cloth the naked and following the vision of congregation member Marlana Karstens, the Caring Closet was also created. Marlana, a school district employee, had seen a need for seasonally appropriate clothing for folks in our community. A Team was formed and collection dates were held. One of the empty classrooms was converted into a clothes closet. As clothes, arrived they were folded, sorted and prepared for distribution. Again, the response of the congregation and our neighbors was great and the room is filled with fall and winter clothing. Flyers are currently being distributed and the public is invited to come on August 8 and 9 and select clothing items that they may need as the seasons change. The clothes will be distributed free of charge. It is the plan of the Team to donate any undistributed clothes to other local agencies such as domestic violence and homeless shelters. The goal of the committee is to have two collections, one for fall and winter and one for spring and summer, and two distributions during the first year. We will evaluate how things are going at the end of our distribution in the Spring of 2015.
While our summer meal program will soon be coming to an end, this is not the end of our efforts to feed hungry children. In August, our onsite meal site will shift to exclusively a preparation site. Each day meals will continue to be prepared for a variety of after school programs in Moline. Once school is out in 2015 we will again be a meal and preparation site for the summer of 2015. We at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Moline are looking forward to what God has in store for us as we respond to Christ’s mandate to feed the hungry and care for the vulnerable. We have read the parable of the talents and we are confident that this is only the beginning of what God will do when we seek to be faithful and good stewards of the resources that God has given us.
We are sure that the facility at 1826 16th Street is a significant resource to be used for the glory of God. And so we look forward to our kitchen being used Monday- Friday to prepare meals for children. We look forward to one of the classrooms that once housed preschoolers being used by World Relief for Pre-employment Classes for Refugees. We celebrate that in our apartment across 18th Ave A refugees who are being relocated through the efforts of World Relief are finding transitional housing for the first six months after their arrival in the United States. We celebrate our partnership with Grace Myanmar Christian Church, pastored by Reverend Joseph Thawn, the congregation of Burmese refugees whom we nest. We celebrate the goodness of God and the doors that are opened when we have eyes to see. All of this is a part of the living out of our weekly worship of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as we seek to not only come to church but to be the church in our community.
Blessings and Shalom from the congregation of FCC (DoC) in Moline,
The Reverend Dr. Beth Rupe.