From the time Rev. Marian New began her tenure at Arnolds Chapel UMC, she encouraged the formation of a United Methodist Men group. "I had read an article about men in ministry and how it made a church stronger and helped a church grow if men were visibly in ministry in the community," she said. "As a matter of fact, it was similar to the message from Bishop Willimon this week."
With eyes open for anything that might jump-start a group, Rev. New one day received a newsletter offering just the opportunity she was looking for. Missions Unlimited, a nonprofit located in Jasper, arranges for faith-based groups to assemble Personal Energy Transportation scooters, or P.E.T.s. She thought it might be just the stimulus she was looking for, and she was right.
"Sure enough, a few of the men got interested," said Rev. New. "They began assembling P.E.T. vehicles, and soon they were talking to other churches, showing and telling, promoting the opportunity to serve. Our small group has now constructed 62 P.E.T.s. They have changed 62 lives. For such a small congregation, that is an amazing number. It's our very small contribution to changing the world."
Not only that, they have energized and strengthened the church. The UMM now meets monthly with 15-20 members."We meet now for dinner, devotional and discussion," said Dick Mebius, who has stepped up as a project leader along with Larry Bunn and Dale Kervin. "We hope to grow into a UMM club that makes a difference."
The enthusiasm has spread to other groups in the church. "We have ladies and children who want to help us," he said. "We now package our scooters to include clothes and toys so that the recipient gets an extra surprise when they open the box."
Mebius takes a sample of the P.E.T. scooter to other churches, along with a short video, in hopes that others will be interested in building them. So far, at least three other churches have jumped on board.
"The men at Arnolds Chapel have really helped us," said Kenneth Key, president and CEO of Missions Unlimited, Inc. "They are giving the gift of mobility to people in third world countries who have lost limbs, or have limited use of their legs. We sure appreciate their efforts."
Rev. Mickey Morgan, superintendent of the South Central district, agrees. "Arnolds Chapel United Methodist Church is a great example of how a small church, any church, can engage in ministry to those in need beyond the walls and membership of the congregation," he said.
For more information about the P.E.T. building project, call Kenneth Key at 205-275-9070.