Coordinating church efforts to spend less time on survival and more time making disciples.
Describe the need affecting community
The area of GCCP encompasses all or a portion of 4 counties. The number of families living in the parish who are at or below the federally established level of poverty is above state and federal averages. Unemployment averages are also above the state and national averages. Employment opportunities are limited and many jobs are seasonal depending on the tourism industry. There is a transient population in some communities associated with local prisons and those who move to the area to be near those imprisoned. These circumstances provide a challenge and an opportunity for ministry to those who struggle to live in this area. Long, harsh winters are a serious stressor to keep families warm, appropriately clothed and properly housed. Long distances to get to adequate grocery shopping and medical assistance is another factor to be dealt with. The entire Parish covers over 2,500 square miles so isolation from each other is a factor. GCCP seems to be the one link that binds us together. Through our CCW making frequent visits in each community, we become more of a cohesive unit for support, encouragement, and ministry. Travel is difficult in the long winter months so our monthly Parish Council meetings seem to “force” us to stay connected and feel that support and encouragement.
How will this Advance project help to address the need?
We will certainly continue all of the above interventions. The project is also interested in obtaining a building where we could have a “free store” open year round on a specific schedule and be able to take this to each community through a mobile operation. If space in such a building would allow, there is a need for teaching some basic skills to both men and women, i.e.- cooking on a budget, basic sewing skills, basic home repair skills and tool use, simple construction of bird houses or other small items for sale. We will also consider some of the following: – A consignment, online sales of arts, crafts, and projects produced by Parish members for extra income for them and the Parish. – Community gardens where Parish communities can work, sell the produce, and have food for their families. – Workshop area could produce prefab raised bed gardening components and/or sandboxes for sale to individuals in the communities. – Provide educational fellowship experiences which would address economical and nutritional food shopping and preparation in conjunction with the Cooperative Extension Service of the Health Department.
Describe the primary goal of the project
The major goal of the GCCP is to remain a beacon for Christ in each of the 7 communities, by keeping the 7 small churches open and serving in those communities. This provides the asset for having a place in each community from which to provide the ministries of support and sustenance. The long term impact would be that no one in each of the communities would go without food, warm clothing, medical care due to lack of transportation, houses that were not properly winterized, or needed pastoral care. It would be our prayer that through the ministries of GCCP, all of our people would be able to enhance their “being” through the programs provided as described above. Of course, we would also pray that they would at some point want to join in the ministries of providing that same opportunity to others. And, praise the Lord, if they became active in any one of our 7 churches.
Describe the change you would like to see in the community as a result of this Advance project
1. The United Methodist presence would be seen as an ongoing ministry, not just a place to go on Sunday morning. 2. The entire Parish would feel a one-ness rather than 7 isolated communities. 3. The people of each community would have needed items available without having to travel long distances. 4. There would be a lessened feeling of isolation by the people of each individual community. 5. People of each community would have access to transportation to needed medical care. 6. Our churches would feel the support of each other thus strengthening the concept of Cooperative Ministry. 7. Our churches would be truly living out the concept of Open Hearts, Open Doors, Open Minds. 8. The people in each community would have access to a life with more dignity and the feeling that there are opportunities of them rather than “hand outs”.