First Meal is our Sunday morning ministry that seeks to offer physical and spiritual nourishment to whoever walks through the doors, regardless of social or financial class or background. It’s a reality that too many persons in our community are familiar with hunger. It’s a constant companion that accompanies them in their search for housing and work. This ministry offers a place of community as well as a hot meal.
Our church launched First Meal on February 7, 2010. What began as a small, monthly ministry has now grown into a partnership with other United Methodists in our community to serve any who come through our doors. One of our volunteer coordinators said, “My love for our guests has grown by tenfold. What pleasure it gives me to serve others.”
Donations of complete pancake mix, pancake syrup and canned fruit are always welcome in this effort to provide a meal to start the day. We also accept monetary donations to purchase bacon, sausage and eggs.
Your donations of soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, deodorant, shampoo and other personal hygiene items are available to the attendees at the necessity table.
Mission trips are a great way for our members to extend their service to different communities in need. Our church provides opportunities for all ages, including adults. We partner with Saratov United Methodist Church in Russia, Heifer International and the Organization for the Development of the Indigenous Maya (ODIM) with great impact.
In 2013 and 2014 we organized mission trips to Saratov, Russia and Guatemala and made a real difference in those communities. In 2017, youth and adults from our church went on a mission trip to Costa Rica.
The first mission trip to Saratov, Russia was in the summer of 2011. In 2012, our church made the decision to enter into a covenant partnership with Saratov UMC as it worked to complete its church building. Since then we helped finish out their sanctuary and remodeled restrooms and meeting rooms through both volunteer work and donations.
Our church has assisted ODIM by supporting the medical clinic in San Juan la Laguna and helping with the construction of a new clinic in San Pablo la Laguna. In 2014 we also helped build a house for a family in need. ODIM serves the Mayan people living in the Lake Atitlan region of the country.
Our church has supported Heifer Project’s work for many years, typically donating one or two Arks of animals each year. On the mission trip to Heifer headquarters in Arkansas, participants visited Heifer Ranch to gain a deeper understanding of the positive impact of animals given to families.
But the impact of our mission trips does not stop there. It goes beyond the communities that we help. It impacts the members who volunteer for these missions.
“I have received more from those people and the whole experience during the Guatemala trip than I could ever give,” said Katy Dawson, who went on the mission trips to Guatemala the last three years.
Janet Fisher, organizer of the Saratov, Russia mission trip, said that it is amazing to see the impact that our church can have on that community. “They used to worship in the living room of a house and now they have their own sanctuary.”
Prayer Shawl Ministry
Crocheters and knitters in our church make shawls, baby/child blanket and lap robes. After completion of the handmade article, the individual who made it brings it to the Prayer Shawl Ministry meeting, which is held the first Wednesday of each month at 1:00 pm in Cole Chapel.
At that time the maker of the shawl, blanket or lap robe presents it by placing it on the altar and collectively they are blessed by one of our pastors. Then each article is wrapped and delivered to its recipient by a Stephen Minister with the following message:
“A prayer shawl or prayer cover is meant to bring comfort to the wearer and an awareness of God’s presence in our daily lives. God knows our deepest needs and we trust his promise to sustain us. The person who created a shawl prayed for the receiver while crocheting or knitting. That person may or may not have known the name or circumstances of the receiver but every stitch was combined with prayer specifically for her/him. Whether in times of distress or moments of joy, let your prayer shawl or cover be a reminder that God loves you. Remember when it rests on you that you are covered in prayer. Use it for its beauty, for its warmth, for its solace.”
The Prayer Shawl ministry brings love and caring into the lives of each recipient.
We are now accepting donations of Lion Brand homespun style yarn all year round. Three matching skeins are needed to make a shawl.
UMC in Saratov, Russia
In 2002, FUMC-Denton church members Janet and Dennis Fisher began traveling to Russia to visit Saratov UMC and have continued to make annual trips. On three occasions groups from our church have joined the Fishers. As a result of these relationships, FUMC-Denton entered into a covenant relationahip with Saratov UMC to provide ongoing support of their ministries.
The Saratov church has come a long way. They are currently self-sufficient and have a steady membership of about 30 and are recognized as one of the most successful Methodist churches in Russia.
Currently, Pastor Dima, Saratov UMC's lead pastor, is emphasizing outreach. Besides visiting orphanages, hosting community movie nights and traveling to villages for Bible studies, they feed the poor every Saturday afternoon. Pastor Dima is full of ideas and energy to do God’s work. They are changing lives.
The church consistently has eight children in attendance at worship and have now started a Sunday School with the help of the FUMC-Denton Children's Ministry. In September 2017, the Fishers together with FUMC-Denton's Children’s Director Brandi Southwell, traveled to Saratov to help Vladislava bring her dreams to fruition. Children’s Sunday School is not common in Russia, so Vladislava is a real pioneer. Home-made Godly Play kits were made by FUMC-Denton's church member Larry Fisher and Marfa Ministry board member Dennis Fisher and 24 kits were taken to Saratov. While at Saratov UMC, Brandi trained four volunteers and children experienced their first class.
After their return, they've received a letter from Vladislava:
"We thank the brothers and sisters of the church in the city of Denton and also thank Marfa Ministry. We especially thank Dennis and Janet Fisher, Brandi Southwell and Larry Fisher and all who took part in the preparation of materials and who sacrificed their personal time, finances so that we could open a Sunday school in the church in Saratov. We thank all those who pray for us. Thank God that through you He blessed our church. Thanks to you, we now have an amazing program that fascinates and attracts even adults and is very popular with children. We see that all the details are made with love in the heart. Brandi taught a master class showing us how we should correctly use the materials and the program. It was unforgettable! We could not figure out the program without it. Thank you all for your support. The materials that you gave to our church will always remind us of your support. We will use them carefully and with love. We know that these words are not enough. You did a great job. We pray for blessings for you. God bless you more and more.”
The relationship between both churches, with both congregations working together, is fruitful and rewarding.