Church: Oakwood UMC
District: Southern Prairie
Submitted by: Pastor Richard Jacobsen
Last September, Oakwood United Methodist Church "adopted" Jefferson Elementary School in New Ulm as a way to express God’s love to the community.
Church members did some simple things: The first was to provide a box of emergency clothes that the school nurse can use for kids who don’t have adequate clothing and for those who have emergencies.
Also, every couple of months, teachers and staff members are given encouraging notes with a small gift--the labels say “Thanks for loving the kids of Jefferson Elementary, from your friends at Oakwood United Methodist Church.” These gifts are meant to thank them for being a positive influence in the lives of our town’s children.
Lastly, a group of parishioners reads to kids. I chose one of the third grade classes and read to them weekly.
Three couples began attending worship services--a pleasant surprise. They were a teacher’s aide and two teachers and their families. (One teacher is the teacher of the class where I read each week.) Six new children energized our Sunday school, and some of their parents came to the new member class held in January. That was a great class that produced three transfers and twelve professions of faith. Two of those professions, the aide and her husband, shared that they had not been raised in families that attended church. They wondered what an adult who had never been baptized needed to do. I told them they had come to the right place. We talked about the meaning of baptism and what a relationship with Jesus Christ involved. They both prayed, surrendering their lives to Christ. In February they and their three children were baptized--a joyful day for our whole church.
This leaves us wondering what more will happen as we push outside the church walls to live out Christ’s love in our community.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church