“We listened to the needs of the community in order to find out place of service,” Rev. Dorothy Ann Webster explained to the 2017 North Alabama Annual Conference as she introduced Abide as a Tool for Church Health.
Sharing the story of Lineville First UMC in the Southeast District, which began the Abide process in 2014, she explained, “Abide is L3 (Loving Learning and Leading) for the small membership church. Through the Abide ministry, a small membership church develops a leadership team that covenants together to learn and lead while abiding in Christ’s love.”
Over the last three years working through the Abide process, the Lineville UMC leadership team worked with church members to evaluate current church ministries. They also began meeting with community leaders to identify ways the congregation could begin to make a difference. They soon discovered the two biggest concerns in their county were education and poverty.
They then began to take action to work to help education concerns. Working with elementary school administrators, the congregation organized a group of tutors who go to the school once a week and read with second graders needing extra help. Rev. Webster reflected, “Just 30 minutes a week at the school can communicate a world of care to families struggling to get by.”
The congregation also reached out to high school students and their families to help them apply for trade school and college, a dream most thought were out their realm of possibility.
In concluding her presentation, Rev. Webster shared honestly, “Our attendance hasn’t grown by leaps and bounds and we have not had huge successes in increasing professions of faith, YET… yet. But we know we are making a difference.”
That difference is being noticed in their community. The congregation got evidence of that fact the day a high school student sent her friend to the church because in her eyes, they are “the helping church.”
Watch the full presentation below:
The 2017 North Alabama Conference emphasis was on Church Health – one of the four Conference priorities. Throughout the day on Monday of Annual Conference, Executive Director of Healthy Congregations Rev. Bob Alford was joined by local church leaders to highlight different tools available to help congregations grow healthier. For more information about church health resources contact the Healthy Congregations office at 205-226-7948 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.