By Barbara Sadler, Path 1 Associate
Galatians 6:7 NRSV.
Usually we hear this saying as a warning that "what goes around comes around", but not if we look at the example of one church in Dothan, Alabama that took its meaning to heart when it decided to revive its ministry.
Greystone United Methodist Church had once been a thriving downtown congregation that in recent years had begun to flounder and die. It needed a radical change to begin a new life cycle. That radical change happened by way of selling the old church building, buying property and building a new church the congregation named Greystone.
As a new congregation (which incidentally has more than quadrupled in attendance in the past five years) they began to look outward toward what they could do in ministry with and for their community. The congregation met as a group and prayed over what to do.
Two major ministries grew out of that prayer. The first is Project 637. Project 637 was born out of the book of Mark, chapter 6, verse 37. It pertains to the parable of feeding the five thousand and in verse 37 Jesus says, “You yourselves give them something to eat.”
When Greystone bought their property, they bought for growth. Consequently they had an additional 14 acres which they now call their “14 acre ministry tool.” That acreage has been developed into a garden, the produce from which is given to the community food bank. This last month, Project 637 reaped 600 pounds of purple shell peas which they donated. When I talked with their pastor, he said that production fit another scripture that said “plant in the good soil and you will reap up to 100 times” (Mark 4:8). They had planted 6 pounds of seed and reaped 600 pounds of peas. Next week they will begin harvesting the corn.
The second ministry they call A.R.M.E.D. (Area Restoration Ministry and Equipping Disciples). With Greystone’s new outward focus A.R.M.E.D. marshals their men to do projects for people in need within the community. Projects include building wheelchair ramps, painting, house repair, and spiritual development for building disciples. These A.R.M.E.D. men work together, pray together, and study together. In the near future they plan to form small groups for men and hold a men’s retreat. A.R.M.E.D. has replaced what had been a dying UMM group.
Through prayer, the study of the scripture, and turning their focus outward, this church has become a vital and fruitful ministry for their community.
Paul tells us we will reap what we sow. Greystone sowed scripture into its ministry and look what grew out of it! What are seeds for ministry your church is planting?