God is blowing a fresh wind of hope into White UMC. People of all ages in the congregation have expressed a renewed desire to reach out and serve the community—and reach the next person for Jesus. “I have seen children, youth and adults alive with hope and filled with joy,” Pastor Krista Wisener says. “There is laughter among us and the sound of children in worship.”
Over the past several months the congregation at White United Methodist Church has taken many bold faith steps. The people are reaching out to the community for Christ.
In the past year, the church did an extensive updating and remodeling process, which included renovating bathrooms, updating the sanctuary’s audio and visual equipment, knocking out a wall and rebuilding it, painting the fellowship hall and sanctuary and sprucing up the Sunday School rooms.
New leadership began serving White UMC in July. Rev. Krista Wisener was appointed as the pastor. Dillan Sterud became worship and youth director.
Children’s ministry is growing. Vacation Bible School had more children show up than had registered. The number of participants attending increased each night. There is a new Sunday school curriculum. The church is now enthusiastically planning VBS for this summer and already has all the volunteer slots filled, with fundraising luncheons planned for February and March.
On Halloween evening, White UMC offered a Trunk or Treat for the first time. Pastor Krista Wisener describes it as an amazing night and one that began to give vision for what could happen. “We had no idea what the turnout would be in a town of a little less than 500 people,” she says. “We were astounded to count 99 children, not including adults, who came to be blessed. Many also stuck around for cider and cookies!” View their video here.
Since Trunk or Treat, a new family has now been regularly attending worship at White UMC. Pastor Krista says, “Their first experience with our church was Trunk or Treat. Their connection was a result of that event.”
Pastor Krista shares that the community is seeking to develop an afterschool program. White UMC appears to be an ideal location, with the new renovations, for the program. “The congregation is stepping out in faith and seeking God's leading as part of a larger community conversation regarding the need for an after-school program for our elementary school-aged children.
Rather than seeking to protect this beautifully updated building, the church is boldly reaching out to serve her community,” she says.
White UMC’s worship has gone through significant change. The congregation has become part of the Embrace Church Network—connecting churches to resources for worship and leading. While the congregation’s worship service may still include hymns and some traditional elements, the service has undergone major overhauls with contemporary music and the integrating of Embrace's sermons.
Many are blessed by the Embrace sermons and the direct life application of scripture to their lives through the messages. There is an increase in attendance with more young people and families. “We had 101 attend children's Christmas program,” says Pastor Krista. “Sunday, we had 61 in attendance, including 18 children.”
There have been some growing pains. There was a lot of change that happened in a short time, creating some feelings of anxiety. There has been conflict at times. Everyone is learning how to put others first and seek to serve. Change is hard.
“We have been learning how to put others above ourselves and seek to serve. Not everyone agrees all of the time. But the blessings have far outweighed the challenges,” Wisener says.
We continue to remain focused on God's mission for us and open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, and while there are still many unknowns, God has proven faithful.”