I wasn’t sure what to expect when the Lord prompted me to be part of the Disaster Relief team to Welaka Florida. I was unsure of what our team would be doing or even how we would accomplish the given tasks with the limited skills that I exhibited. However, while we were there our team met Whelma, a mother and also a grandmother, who lived in a rural and low socioeconomic area. During Hurricane Mathew, a tree fell on Whelma’s house and created extensive damage to the majority of her home. Our team was given the opportunity to complete a few unfinished ongoing repairs and now at least one of the rooms in her house looks considerably better. Yet even though serving in this manner was definitely gratifying and humbling, the one thing that touched our team the most was what we saw in another room adjacent to the one we were working on. Whelma had a prayer room...a room set aside just for her and the Lord. I was touched deeply by this because even though the rest of her house was displaced and crammed from wall to wall with the remainder of her belongings, she intentionally made an effort to clear out a dedicated space for the the Lord. Whelma’s house could be a small reflection of what our lives should be with Christ. When we make an intentional effort to clear “a space” in our jobs, routines, and relationships for the Lord, He will them take care of our what and how questions. When we let Christ and the Holy Spirit invade our hearts, minds, and souls we will then know what God has called us to do and how we are to accomplish all that He has in store for us. As we daily and intentionally clear out a space for the Lord in our lives we not only receive blessings from our Heavenly Father, but we become a blessing or a Whelma to those around us.
The St. Joe Community Foundation awarded Lynn Haven UMC a $10,000 grant for their Blessings in a Bag ministry. This grant allows 65 students from Southport Elementary School to take backpacks with food home on Fridays. These backpacks full of food help ensure that students will not go hungry over the weekend.
Janet Piepul, St. Joe Community Foundation’s Executive Director, stressed the importance of these type of backpack programs. “Providing this grant to Lynn Haven UMC to help hungry children in our community is another way the Foundation is helping our community be better. It all starts with helping the kids. By helping the kids, you help the adults which strengthens families and by strengthening families you reach the community.”
“We are so appreciative of the tremendous support for the families in need and the ability to help our students,” said Holly Buchanan, Principal at Southport Elementary School. “We want to be able to provide our students and their families with food for the weekend and this grant helps make that possible.”
Backpacks are filled with the help of volunteers from Lynn Haven United Methodist Church through their partnership with Southport Elementary School. This partnership allows members of the congregation to serve as weekly classroom volunteers, help out at special events and pack and deliever the weekend food bags.
About The St. Joe Community Foundation: Since its inception in 1999, The St. Joe Community Foundation (Foundation) has provided more than $19 million in pledges and grants to improve the quality of life in the communities it serves. The Foundation provides charitable grants, primarily in Bay and Walton Counties, which embrace the arts, strengthen education, protect the environment, and improve healthcare. These efforts help build healthy, caring, long-lived communities. For more information, visit www.Joe Foundation.com.
On December 9th, we hosted a mobile food pantry at our Fusion Fitness Center. We received 10,000 lbs. of food from a grant given to us by Feeding the Gulf Coast. In addition to food, attendees were able to receive medical and dental services from PanCare mobile units. The mobile food pantry served 280 households which represented 1,002 individuals! The PanCare mobile units served 26 medical patients and 32 dental patients.
Throughout the day, over 80 servants came and helped unload the food trucks, packed boxes, prayed with families and more.
Leslie Brogdon, a church member who frequently serves at the mobile food pantry, said that the experience reminds him that God always provides. He provides food for those in need and He provides people to serve and love those that are in need. Leslie experiences God’s love and presence with every conversation that he has at the mobile food pantry, and he feels blessed to be able to serve the community.
"As I worked on the Pumpkin Patch last month, I had many God sightings. What stood out the most, though, was seeing the love of God shining brightly in my volunteers. God’s love was evident in them as they sacrificed their free time in order to further the Kingdom. I had the privilege of working with people of all ages and from all walks of life. The volunteers, most of whom I was meeting for the first time, were eager to jump in and serve in any way they could. Their support helped ease a lot of the stress of a first-time Pumpkin Patch Coordinator.I enjoyed watching friendships form between workers as they spent hours side by side unloading or selling pumpkins in the patch. Old or young, no matter what our background is, the common thread of Christ in our lives can help us connect with others to form lasting relationships! I now look forward to cultivating the friendships I made over the last few months and getting to know more of my fellow servants. I’m so thankful that God provides for our needs, and I’m thankful for the people in our church family who were able to share their gifts to make this event such a success!"
Andrea WhitakerPumpkin Patch Coordinator
This past month our middle school students participated in a fall retreat to The Vineyard in Ariton, Alabama. During that trip they were able to get away and learn about how God values and loves us. This gave the students the opportunity to grow in their relationship with Him.
While at the Vineyard, Holly Rice, our Youth Intern, got to witness God working in the student’s lives. She reflects on how she saw God move throughout the weekend: “Having the students fast from being on their cellular devices for the weekend gave them, and me personally, the opportunity to disconnect from the world and live in the now. Every morning we would wake up and we would find a spot to be alone and do a devotional before breakfast. Being out in nature and spending time with God just one on one was a great experience.”
17 students participated in the retreat and 9 recommitted their lives to Christ. Praise God!
On Sunday, October 15th we had our Baptism Sunday. During our services we baptized 8 people and had 9 professions of faith. We are overflowing with joy for those who gave their lives to Christ. God is so good.
Thank you so much for your generous offerings towards Hurricane Relief. Our communion offerings totaled $10,319.35 and was given to the United Methodist Committee on Relief to go directly to relief efforts in the US, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. For more information on how our offerings are being used, please visit http://www.umcor.org/
At our AWANA Bash, the children made 850 Rocks. 850 Rocks is a new trend going on in Panama City. People decorate rocks and hide them around the city for other people to find. The children at the AWANA bash decorated their rocks with drawings of crosses and hearts. Many of them wrote encouraging messages such as, “God loves you!” After they decorated them, they prayed over the rocks and prayed for the people that might find them. Our church website was written on them so that people would be encouraged to let us know if they found one. We received an email from someone visiting Panama City from Mississippi who found one of our rocks. She wrote, “Hi! Just wanted to send a quick note to thank you all for placing the rocks around Panama City Beach! My daughter found one this past Saturday at the Edgewater Beach Resort while we were there for the 9/11 PCB Memorial Stair Climb. She was so excited to find your rock! Such an exciting and neat idea to place the rocks for visitors to find! We hope to find another one next time we visit next year for the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb!”
It is awesome to see that God can use something as small as a rock to brighten someone’s day!
On Sunday, September 3rd we took up an offering at communion during our church services to be given to the United Methodist Committee on Relief to be used for Texas flood relief. We raised $7.051.35 for the flood victims! Praise the Lord!
"How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings." Psalm 36:7 Last night, August 30th, we had our annual AWANA Family Kick-Off. It was a beautiful example of the body of Christ coming together for the kingdom of God. We had our UMM men cook us dinner, parents and leaders watching children fellowship outside on the playground and on the bounce houses, and we ended the night with 14 baptisms! 12 children and 2 adultsâ€‹â€‹ were baptized with their friends and families rejoicing with them! We are so thankful for our Children's Ministry and the work they do to show the love of Christ to our children and their families!