District: Big Waters
Submitted by: Rev. Lynda Ellis
The "Big Give" at Grace United Methodist Church in St. Cloud began as an outreach ministry by one of its Bible study groups seven years ago.
It has since become a yearly event, taking place the last Saturday in April, and one that the entire church community has embraced. This spring's event was the seventh annual.
On the day of the Big Give, the church fellowship hall turns into a mecca of used items ranging from clothing to furniture and much more. A line forms at the door long before the doors open at 8 a.m., and attendees, who come from the St. Cloud community and beyond, are invited in and given a large garbage bag to store whatever they'd like to take. This is not a church garage sale, but everything is given away! Coffee, juice, rolls, and cookies are served throughout the morning--and for lunch, hamburgers and hot dogs are cooked on a grill and served with chips. All of the food is free, just like the items.
Children and youth from the church help with the Big Give, and larger items are even delivered to people's homes by church members. Although the community is blessed by this event, the folks from Grace UMC who help to host the event will tell you that God has blessed them through their service and giving. Every person who walks through the door is treated as though they were the Christ--radical hospitality at its finest.