One of the radical teachings of Jesus is that which we often call the “Great Commandment.” When the teacher asked Jesus about the most important law in the Torah, I’m sure he wasn’t surprised when Jesus drew on the Shema from Deuteronomy 6: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” This passage was at the core of Jewish faith and practice. Faithful Jews too seriously command to: “Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates
What was radical is what Jesus did next, drawing on a teaching from Leviticus 19 which stated that: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” While faithful Jews of his time may have been familiar with the teaching, connecting the two was a radical shift in understanding God’s work in the work, and Christ’s Great Commandment would go on to form the basis of all Christian discipleship. Our vison to be a community focused on growing in Christ (focused on the love of God) and sharing God’s love (focused on love of neighbor) is based in that command.
Likewise, the Methodist movement has always been rooted in service. The earliest Methodists, the “Holy Club” that met in Oxford while John Wesley was in college, were noted for their service to others, be it visiting the sick or imprisoned, or promoting education among the children of the area. Methodist people have been at the forefront of promoting justice and creating programs of assistance throughout our entire history. Likewise, the City Road Chapel United Methodist Church has a deep and abiding missional ethos, and we’ve been recognized in our community for taking seriously the provisions of Matthew 25 to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, and visit the sick and imprisoned.
As we’ve considered our sharing ministries, the Nominations and Lay Leadership Committee envisions the following structure for our life together:
Community Connections Team
We are proposing a name change for our team currently known as the Outreach Ministries Team. This team has been very effective in leading the congregation to reach out with the love of Jesus Christ to our community in tangible ways and in no way do we want to change their focus. Our impetus for the name change is clarity – simply put, the word outreach is used in different ways by different churches and we want to be clear about the focus of the team.
The Community Connections Team provides general oversight to the existing ministries of service found at City Road, as well as working to envision new ministries based on community needs, as well as administering grants to partner agencies from our Help (Altar) Fund.
The Community Connections Team includes the work of the following ministries, some of which have their own leadership structures, and whose leadership forms the membership of the team:
- The Feast Community Meal
- The City Road Chapel Emergency Weather Shelter (CREWS)
- Meals on Wheels
- The Quiet Space Day Room
- Sunday’s Table
- ShadeTree Outreach
Prayer and Care Ministries Team
The sharing of God’s love is not only an task in reaching out, but also involves the care of the Christian community. While it can be argued that congregational and prayer are integral to the life of discipleship, the Nominations and Lay Leadership Committee believe that for our purposes these tasks fall more clearly in our calling to share God’s love.
Certainly, prayer is a core Christian practice and learning how to pray is an essential practice in growing in Christ. Yet, while prayer always forms us in faith, intercessory prayer (that is, the prayer for others, our church, and the world) is a significant act of sharing as we ask God to intercede in the face of struggle and pain. The Prayer and Care Ministries Team is called to focus on intercessory prayer for our church, creating spaces for people to pray together about the needs we face.
The Apostle Paul told the church in Galatia that they should “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2). Paul clearly understood that the care of others, helping to lift their load is a means of fulfilling Christ’s command to love one another. Christian caregiving focuses on addressing care needs within the congregation, such as visiting and praying for the sick, providing resources for people in their times of need, and offering support for the lonely in need of human connection. While some of this work is done by our pastor, the fact is that ALL are charged with offering care in Christ’s name. In fact, the first expansion of leaders in the church (described in Acts 6) was the selection of persons to care for the widows and orphans so as to free up the apostles from this task. The Prayer and Care Ministries Team develops the plan for ensuring that members and friends of City Road Chapel are cared for, be it visiting our homebound, keeping up with our sick, and providing meals for people in need.
At the current time, the Prayer and Care Ministries Team focuses in three areas:
- Intercessory Prayer
- Home Visitation
- Memorial Meals
Child Development Center / Mother’s Day Out Program Team
Two years ago the Church Council adopted a new structure that disbanded the CDC Board in favor of a single Children’s Council which was charged with integrating the CDC and MDO programs into a broader vision of ministry with children that included children’s discipleship. For administrative and communications reasons supervision of the CDC and MDO director was turned over to the Staff Parish Relations Committee, and the Finance Committee assumed a more active role in overseeing the finances of the two programs. As we’ve looked at this structure the Nominations and Lay Leadership Committee has recognized that it is not working, primarily because we have no vision or leadership in regards to children’s discipleship, with our ministry with children being focused to the surrounding community rather than the growth of our own kids. As such, we are disbanding the Children’s Council due to a lack of leadership. And yet, we also recognize that the CDC and MDO programs need input and assistance from stakeholders in ensuring that we offer quality programs for our neighbors which continue to generate and maintain a positive image for our church in the community.
With that in mind we are proposing the creation of a new CDC/MDO group that will serve to provide feedback and assistance on the two programs. As we envision this new committee we see it involving representatives from the worshipping congregation of our church, parents, and teachers working together to ensure that we are offering care that is safe, loving, educational, and rooted in faith. This group would not assume the administrative roles of supervising the directors (which will remain with SPRC) or financial administration (which remains with the Finance Committee) but rather would work with the directors and staff to increase parental involvement, raise funds to assist with program needs, and offer feedback on the current program as well as brainstorming about future possibilities. We envision this committee made up of the following persons:
- The CDC and MDO Program directors
- 3 representatives from the congregation, with 1 being a member of the Trustees
- 4 teachers from the programs, with 2 from the CDC and 2 from the MDO
- 4 parents, with 2 coming from each program
- The Senior Pastor
All representatives will be elected on a year to year basis, recognizing the turnover that happens within these programs.