When we began Community of Hope the vision was to bring people together housed and street, churched and unchurched. Here is a video of that realized as people from four very different walks of life join voices in one song:

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Community of Hope in the news… taken from the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. To see the original link go to Ministry WITH

Experiencing the Transformational Power of the Spirit in “Ministry WITH”

For several years, Central UMC in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico has been in ministry with a group of people experiencing homelessness and living on the margins.  Building on this foundation, in 2012 Central UMC began a weekly outdoor worship service called Community of Hope, which functions as the worship extension of the ministries with the homeless and marginalized. (See “Community of Hope: Planting a New Seed at a UMC”).

Community of Hope is a group of people– housed and street, churched and unchurched– who come together on Sunday afternoons to build community through worship and the sharing of a meal. Community of Hope embodies the belief that every person is created in the image of God and that in each other’s eyes we see Christ.

The people who participate in Community of Hope have taken complete ownership of it. Without being asked, people help to tear down, set up, lead worship, pray, speak, and play music.

On weekdays, Central United Methodist Church has a ministry called Helping Hands, where we give out bus passes, sack lunches, clothes, toiletries, etc. — while treating people with dignity and respect. Every Friday at Helping Hands we have a Bible study. For Lent we are using Rueben Job’s new book on prayer.

One recent Friday many of our volunteers had other commitments and we were short-handed. So I drafted David and Daniel, two people I know well who come to Helping Hands for assistance.

When Daniel and David were invited to share their gifts and graces at Helping Hands, they received and bestowed hospitality, respect and affirmation. They were so moved that I asked them to help that they asked when can they serve again.  Then they took an important next step.

That Friday, for the first time,  David and Daniel stayed after for the Bible study. At the Bible study, which included eighteen people, they chose to share their gifts and graces again, this time by giving testimony.  David shared how his prayer life gave him strength to cope with his wife’s death. Daniel shared how God changed his life in jail through prayer.

While these experiences on Friday were enough to make my heart soar, two days later after the traditional church service at Central, I saw a clean shaven man in a suit I had never seen before. When I introduced myself, he said “It’s me. Daniel.”

Not only had Daniel cleaned himself up, put on a suit, and come to worship at Central, but he also served in every way possible at Community of Hope: setting up, tearing down, hooking up the sound system, serving food, etc.

In Ministry WITH, Daniel had experienced the transformational power of the Spirit.  And so had I.

 

IMG_2294On January 26, youth from around the state of New Mexico gathered to help feed and clothe the homeless population of Albuquerque in a program called Feed the Need. Central United Methodist Church served as one of three Feed the Need locations. At Central, more than 50 youth served approximately 300 people.

Feed the Need not only offered hamburgers, hot dogs, and clothing items, but also brought people together in relationship, prayer, and worship.

Before lunch was served, people shared in the sacrament of Holy Communion. IMG_2286In a different perspective of who served who, two formerly homeless gentlemen served communion to the volunteer youth.

Kristin Leve of Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless remembered the recent loss of her friend Mary Stuckman through the words of this poem:

IMG_2299Tell those that are important to you
Just how important they are
Tell those that matter
That they do
And be kind to those that are neither
You may just save a life and a soul.

At Feed the Need 2014 not only were many people fed, but many souls were touched.