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Green and Rethink Church

{mosimage}When we read the Bible, we often focus on the relationship between humans and God. Yet, the foundational stories of our faith reveal the importance of another set of relationships—the relationships between God and Creation and between humans and Creation. From the ancient Israelites to the early followers of Christ, caring for the Earth was an important means of offering thanks and praise to God.

{mosimage}When we read the Bible, we often focus on the relationship between humans and God. Yet, the foundational stories of our faith reveal the importance of another set of relationships—the relationships between God and Creation and between humans and Creation. From the ancient Israelites to the early followers of Christ, caring for the Earth was an important means of offering thanks and praise to God.

–    National Council of Churches of Christ, of which the UM General Board of Church and Society is a part.

Nearly 1,000 United Methodists and community volunteers beautified their corner of the world by converging on nine local parks for Hands On Topeka.

A project of the Topeka District of The United Methodist Church, Hands On Topeka was one of three Rethink Church events occurring across the United States on April 11.Last November, Topeka District Superintendent Evelyn Fisher started dreaming of how it would look for the 20 United Methodist churches in Topeka to go into the community and a community-wide park cleanup was born.

“I challenged all the pastors to aim to have half their average worship attendance volunteer today,” Fisher said.

Five congregations, three of whom worship with fewer than 70 each week, met that goal. New Hope United Methodist Church, averaging 50 in worship, had 62 volunteers.

“One of my pastors has been calling this ‘service evangelism,’” Fisher said. “It’s the most natural way to share who we are. We let people know The United Methodist Church is here, it’s healthy and we care about the community. I hope our churches are ready for company because I think it’s coming after today.”

The United Methodist Church’s reputation lured Katie McCollom to volunteer in Central Park, located in a troubled neighborhood. “The reputation of The United Methodist Church doing work that matters is strong, so I knew we would be doing something that mattered,” McCollom said.

Patrick Woods, a UM site coordinator was expecting about 100 volunteers from three churches. “People just kept coming and coming.” Woods said some people wandered in from houses neighboring the parks, because they saw the people with their red “Hands On Topeka – Rethink Church” T-shirts cleaning up the neighborhood park.

Terry Bertels, city parks and recreation director and a First United Methodist Church member, was out volunteering with his church family.

“It’s about taking what we practice on Sunday and putting it to use the rest of the week. Today, I’m not wearing my parks’ service hat. I get to put my church-self forward,” Bertels said.

“This event will have a long-lasting impact on the community. People will remember it, and we’ll come back and do it again.”

Volunteers filled more than 1,200 30-gallon bags with trash from the nine parks.

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