To the Editor:On Sunday, May 31, don't plan to attend church services at many area houses of worship. Instead, look for a symbolic flame walking and working about the town: people in tell-tale orange, red, and yellow shirts on the streets of greater Hawley and Newfoundland areas, performing acts of service for the community.
For that is the day of "The Church Has Left the Building," taken quite literally by St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wallenpaupack Church, Hawley United Methodist Church, the Friends in Faith Parish, Newfoundland Moravian Church, FM Community Church, Lakeville United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church of Hawley and Lake Ariel United Methodist Church.
The flier explains: "It is a day designed to help us all know God and our community more fully by serving one another in ways that purposefully draw us outside the walls of our church buildings and normal worshiping spaces. This hands-on approach is a chance for us to live out our faith by being in mission."
Often we citizens answer the call to service, becoming firefighters or teachers, joining the armed forces or Jaycees, mowing an elderly neighbor's yard or babysitting our grandchildren after school. But for people of many faiths, being in mission�is who they are.
The Rev. Colleen Cox, chair of the Wallenpaupack Clergy Association and Pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church says, "Our goal for this event is go out into the community and be God's hands and feet in the world. We want to go out and serve our community, get to know our neighbors, work side by side with people of faith from other churches, and show the Body of Christ in action. When we gather in our respective churches on Sundays we are called, fed, and equipped to be sent out into the world to share God's love." In other words, we are blessed to be a blessing. This event is our chance to share that blessing all throughout our communities.
Past CHLTB projects have included handyman work for the elderly, making dresses out of pillowcases for young girls in Haiti, and sprucing up local businesses. Projects have expanded to include all that and 20 more ways to serve, such as making cookies and writing letters of gratitude for local firemen, cleaning the CJR Memorial Playground in Bingham Park, and planting flowers all over the region from Bethany Village to the Sterling Township Building.
This year, for the first time, the general public will be invited to take advantage of several opportunities offered by this army of church volunteers.
"Dress for Success, a �free sale" to supply women with professional clothing, will be at St. Paul's Fellowship Hall, 405 Church St. in Hawley, from 1 to� 4. Ladies can choose from racks of stylish suits and dresses, be more confident at their next job interview, and jump-start a new career.
Volunteers at Bingham Park on Route 6 in Hawley, and Newfoundland (Carlton Drake Memorial) Park on Route 191, are offering a wide variety of services.
At Bingham Park, refreshments will be provided from 11 to 3 while Lakota Health Care offers free blood pressure screenings. Pastor Colleen Cox will be on hand to bless your pet from 12:30 to 2. And Jessycalyn Vagnini from Judy's Hairway to Heaven, along with other stylists, will supply free kids hair cuts in the gazebo from 11 to�3.
In Newfoundland Park, Pastor Alison Grove will offer pet blessings from 9:30 to 11 am, and Allyson from Pediatric Practices of NEPA will set up a free car seat safety check. Delete Blood Cancer DKMS�will offer a bone marrow screening and registry, asking anyone 18-45 for a cheek swab and donation. And the Pike County Humane Society will host a pet adoption drive.
While stepping out in faith on five Sundays has been done for several years by the Wallenpaupack Free Methodist Church, Pastor Anna Layman Knox and the Hawley United Methodist Church expanded on that concept and introduced the project to other local area churches to make it the communitywide event that is today. This year, 11 congregations from five different denominations take to the streets.
Anna Considine, Central Coordinator, says, "It is a pleasure to work with so many great churches to show the love of Christ to our community. We truly are one body of believers, coming together to serve our neighbors with the love that has been so graciously given to us. Each year our excitement grows as does the amount of volunteers in mission. Last year we were blessed to have over 150 people participating, this year we are expecting over 200. We would love to have more community members join us as you do not need to belong to a local church to participate, all are welcome!"