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Lenten calendar invites opportunities to pray-and-give

By: Donna Fisher, member of Rapid City Canyon Lake UMC

Dropping off donations at Canyon Lake UMC as part of the 2019 Pray-and-Give Calendar for Lent.

Photos courtesy of Canyon Lake UMC.

Why did Rapid City Canyon Lake UMC’s Missions Team create a Pray-and-Give calendar for Lent ? How did it create more focus on these Rapid City non-profits—Cornerstone Rescue Mission; HOPE Center, a drop-in day center for homeless clients; Church Response, a local food pantry; WAVI, a domestic violence shelter; Love INC, an agency providing resources to help people out of poverty; and Mommy’s Closet, an agency of Volunteers of America? 

Doing hands-on mission projects is part of Rapid City Canyon Lake’s DNA, with children and teens leading the way. For example, Children’s Ministries Coordinator Erin Woods encouraged the kids of Vacation Bible School to bring children’s books for Cornerstone’s Womens and Childrens Shelter last summer. The Common Threads group makes potholders for Life INC nutrition class “graduates.” During cold months, the needle workers make scarves and hats that senior youth drape on the 43 statues of presidents on Rapid City street corners.

Children pre-K through grade five made blessing bags with snacks and toiletries, hand wipes, a candy heart and a message saying “You are loved.” Parents donated items and helped the children hand out the bags where homeless people gathered at HOPE Center. “They loved this! They want to do projects constantly,” said Erin.

Middle high students have hosted holiday parties for mothers and children at the Cornerstone Shelter for several years. “Before we go, we explain to our kids that these families couldn’t be at their homes because of unhealthy situations. Everyone was so welcoming—it’s a feel-good thing for everybody involved,” said Middle High coordinator Katie Heinis. 

“Because of our mission tradition, we give generously, but we usually don’t often take time to learn about an agency’s work,” said Carol Dormann, Mission Team Chair.  “The Lenten calendar has helped us all be more mindful. We mailed calendars to each household, inviting folks to pray specifically for the staff and clients of the agency named each week.” 

The annual Lenten Calendar has added meaning to the season of Lent. Last year, weekly scripture readings were added. The calendar included suggested prayers by pastors, plus daily “prayer in actions” suggestions for family, friends, God’s creation—and individuals.

The 2019 Pray-and-Give calendar added a new dimension, when Connections Coordinator Deb Kjerstad found a stash of bright green cloth bags with the church logo and address. “We urged people to use the green bags to bring back donations, encouraging a positive shopping habit as well as getting our church’s name into the community.” The green bags also inspired adding creation care actions into the calendar. 

Members at Canyon Lake UMC drop off donations with six agencies in the Rapid City area as part of the 2019 Pray-and-Give calendar for Lent.

Members of the mission team talked to six agencies; and created a weekly shopping list that is printed on the calendar. There is a brief explanation of each agency’s mission in the congregation's bulletin, Facebook page, and weekly e-blast. Some people choose to give money so that mission team members can shop for things like Rapid Ride passes, or Forever postage stamps.

Creating the calendars is a team effort. The back of the legal-size calendar contained descriptions written by mission team members like this one for Working Against Violence Inc. (WAVI): Established in 1978, Working Against Violence, Inc. is a secure facility where women, children and men may go for emergency shelter from abusive situations. In 2018 WAVI sheltered 3,308 clients with 11,713 shelter stays. 

 Another mission team member wrote prayers like this one for the clients at WAVI: Dear Protector and Sustainer, when physical and mental violence breaks hearts and families, comfort victims of abuse with safe space, steady counsel, practical care, and avenues of hope. Give strength to caregivers and protectors. In Jesus name —

The explanations, prayers and photos provide a picture of the people being served and what situations might have created their needs. It really helps to imagine those individuals receiving gifts like baby wipes, hygiene products, peanut butter, laundry detergent, or toothpaste, for example. Mission team member Lois Ames said, “As I look at the baskets of donations each week, I think, wow, these are basic needs; this is not glamorous stuff!”   

When we deliver the weekly donations, Lois says staff at the receiving agencies are effusive with their thanks not only for donations, but also for prayers of support. 

“It was inspiring to see all the bags overflowing,” said Kevin Kloster, lead pastor. “I think the give-and-pray aspect of it, combined with a thoughtful calendar, really helps people journey through a season of Lent in a meaningful way.”

For more information contact: Kevin Kloster-605-348-1080; Carol Dormann-605-390-7378. 


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