The congregation in Parker is focusing on reaching out to the families in the community. Efforts include a county-wide outreach project for the Turner County Sheriff’s Department, a community breakfast on Sunday, an award-winning homecoming float, and hiring a full-time pastor for the congregation.
Parker is home to more than one thousand people who enjoy the safety and convenience of living in a smaller area. Located 25 minutes from Sioux Falls, Parker offers an atmosphere of community for many commuting workers. Parker UMC is inviting people to Christ in several ways.
Loads of stuffed animals, blankets, and pillows were collected throughout the nine communities in Turner County and delivered to the Turner County Sheriff’s office by the United Methodist Church in Parker, South Dakota. These items will provide comfort to young children in a time of tension and anxiety. “No one likes to sit in the Sheriff’s office or vehicle, especially a child. Children who may experience a fire, medical emergency, or are the victim of a crime end up scared, alone, and need some comfort,” said Owen Spurrell, a member of Parker UMC.
Owen and his wife Julie helped distribute nine containers, donated by Ace Hardware of Parker, South Dakota, to various locations throughout Turner County in July. Members of each of the communities throughout the county were encouraged to donate items that would comfort children.
One or two items were placed in the containers to encourage donations. Advertisements were in local newspapers throughout the nine communities. Each of the churches in Turner County were contacted by phone.
“There are a lot of churches in Turner County. My wife contacted every one of them by phone and invited them to participate,” said Owen Spurrell.
When the Spurrells went to pick up each of the containers, they found mounds of stuff. Every container was full, and many were overflowing. There was even a donation that came from another county.
“A woman called from a church, that we had not contacted in another county,” says Owen. “She said that they would like to provide 20-25 blankets that a group had made. She also said that they would be glad to make more if we would like them.”
All of the items, everything from small Beanie Babies to large stuffed animals, were delivered and on display at the Turner County Fair. The Sheriff’s Department displayed the items and thanked all the donors.
“We were all winners. It was a display of how everyone throughout the county stands behind law enforcement,” says Spurrell. “These items will provide a lot of hope for kids. People got to know our church.”
Parker UMC has taken a leap of faith and moved from a part-time pastor to a full-time pastor with support from the Dakotas Conference.
“Our pastor, Rick Andrus, is involved in the community. He is coaching at the school. He leads Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Justin is volunteering throughout the community and school,” says Spurrell.
The congregation hosts a community breakfast on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. About 150 people show up at breakfast. No restaurant is open on Sunday morning in the community, so families enjoy the opportunity to connect at Parker UMC. A free-will donation is collected.
Parker UMC had a float in the recent Homecoming parade that won first place. The theme for the float—bubbling over with joy for Jesus, featured a fishing boat with kids on board blowing bubbles. Music flowed from the vessel with guitars and singing.
“We are trying hard to invite people to Jesus,” says Owen. “Anything we can do to get people involved. We had seven new children in Sunday School last year.”