Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Social Outreach and Evangelization to the Unchurched

Fr. Steve and Jerry at Heritage Festival
This morning Br. Joe and Br. Craig are unloading a truck of food.  Four times a year, Douglas Cherokee distributes government commodities to folks in need.  Since February they have been using our little store front church in Rutledge.  This is one way in which we are making a small effort to help establish the Reign of God through social outreach.

Commodity Distribution at the old location
We began early on volunteering with this program since they stated they could use help.  Around 400 or more families will be given a box of food.  When Douglas Cherokee relocated, they needed a new space for the distribution.  This will be the third time it will happen from our building.  This little relationship has lead to beginning of a food pantry sponsored by the three downtown churches, Rutledge Methodist, Rutledge Baptist and Blessed John Paul II.  Another small project is that "Team Dad" uses our building for parenting and job training classes.  These are first steps in our attempt to engage in social outreach and establish the Reign of God more clearly in Grainger County.
God's Reign will flow

God's cross of hope can be found anywhere
Br. Joe and Br. Craig have been the lead forces in social outreach.  I belong to I-Care for a drug free Union County, but outside of a once a month meeting, this is not a great effort.  Br. Joe has worked on two remodeling projects with local families, including fixing a toilet.  The couple had been using buckets since the toilet broke and they did not have funds to repair it.  Br. Joe is also a frequent visitor to the Narrow Ridge Community in Grainger County.  This community has a strong commitment to the environment.  Many of these people are deeply spiritual, but not necessarily church goers.

Br. Craig is involved in Bingo Calling at one of the Senior Citizen Centers and one of the Nursing Homes.  He also is a weekly greeter at the school which allows him to make new connections.  Finally, he is also teaching literacy to one adult in the Washburn area.

The vastness and beauty of the mission awaits
These efforts are significant in our first year, but we hope more will happen.  The Glenmary Founder, Fr. William Howard Bishop, wrote about "catholicity" or the idea that Catholic Spirituality and the Reign of God need to be prompted in our areas whether this leads to anyone joining the Church or not.  This type of social outreach I like to say is that we hope the community is more Christian for Glenmary being there than before we came. 

This has been a good first year, but far more needs to happen.  Yet, we are still building trust and are still listening to the local folks about what they need.  This too involves us learning from them on how to proceed once a need is identified.  So we will continue to go slow and go where we are invited.
John returns to the Church and makes his first communion
Another category of importance is "Evangelizing to the Unchurched".  It is estimated that Union County as about 60% unchurched and Grainger considerable less than that.  Yet, so far, we have not done any concentrated efforts outside of advertising.  I have plans of visiting the trailer parks where many unchurched folks live.  In year one, we did have two converts and many inactive Catholics return.  Yet, this will be a major goal of the years ahead.

Sarah upon her conversation into the Catholic Church
We have accomplished alot with God's help in our first year, but as today's reflections demonstrate, we have a lot more ahead of us.

1 comment:

  1. "Evangelizing to the Unchurched" Congrats to make it happen. God Bless!

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