By Bonnie Mentel
Grace Community United Methodist in Lithia is finding ways for the church to go outside their walls to reach people instead of just expecting people to come to them.
“We want to go out and let people know who we are and make as much of a difference as we can. We started Grace Kindness Ninjas at the beginning of the year to encourage our members to go out and do acts of kindness,” Pastor Matt Wallis said.
The church Website explains more about Kindness Ninjas. “Do kind things for others. There is no doubt that small things done with great love can change the world. A random act of ninja kindness with no strings attached is a great way to show the love of Jesus to those around us.”
One church member paid for a stranger’s groceries and then gave them a card that said, “You’ve Been Ninja’d.” The church also has pizza attacks where congregants pay for people’s dinners at local pizzerias. Its Website lists more ideas for random acts of kindness.
“People who were recipients of the acts of kindness were really blessed by it,” said Wallis.
Grace has other ways for their members to get connected to the community. It partners with Ministry of Hope and provides assistance in food and household items to single moms, widows and shut-ins. The Good Samarian Mission assists migrant families and the poor in the Wimauma community and is another ministry Grace is involved with.
“We’re also partnering up with Family Promise of Greater Brandon. That’s a ministry to homeless families with children. Several churches in the area are partnering together to work with this new start-up. They have a day center in a van that helps people with job retraining, and then at night the families go to different churches at a time to sleep at the churches. And then we feed them and help them out,” Wallis said.
Grace does not have the accommodations available for families to sleep, so it plans to work with Limona Village Chapel United Methodist to provide the bulk of the volunteers and resources for the week when families stay there.
This summer Grace will be reaching out to children. It is hosting a youth sports camp that will be held during the evenings of the last week in June. The cost of the camp is $30 per child. Participants will be able to register online.
Grace Community United Methodist Church is located at 5708 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. Worship services are Sundays at 9:30 (traditional) and 11 a.m. (contemporary). For more information, visit http://mygraceumc.com.