April 21, 2022 | by
First UMC of Lodi is working with a ministry statement to guide their work in this season. It reads, "When the Holy Spirit is leading the church, We come to life in love", and the social media hashtag they have chosen is #hopeisfoundhere.
So it should come as no surprise that when Lodi's Director of Youth and Discipleship Ministries Nora Olsen, was contacted by Jim Quinney, the local director for Rise Against Hunger (RAH) in January of this year, they saw an opportunity to engage ministry that would be multigenerational act of love.
The team at Lodi selected Maundy Thursday as their RAH event day because of the significance of Jesus calling the disciples into service. The Lodi volunteers and RAH staff began the day with a remembrance of Maundy Thursday and the last supper. They celebrated Holy Communion and after hearing the scripture where Jesus proclaimed a new commandment, "to love one another the way I have loved you," They got to work.
RAH staff had a system that created stations in an assembly line fashion. Raw materials from each station were placed in bags. Each bag weighed 800 grams and would provide 6 meals. The group filled 1,728 bags / 10,368 meals and packed them into 48 boxes. Each box contained enough nutrients to feed 1 child for a year. Lodi's boxes will be shipped along with other RAH materials and supplies prepared on the west coast to the Philippines and Malaysia where children are facing extreme food scarcity in the most impoverished communities.
RAH staff organized the volunteers into teams, played music and celebrated every 1000 meals bagged with the sounding of a gong.
The Maundy Thursday volunteers spanned generations from children under 9 to adults over 90, and included members of the community at large, members of the church, children and seniors, life long disciples of Christ and people brand new to acts of faith.
Along with the labor, the First UMC Lodi donated over $3500 to help ship the boxes packed with food.
"The servant is not greater than the master;" said Jesus in the same scripture that began the day. The volunteers experienced what we know to be true: when we are about our master's work, we are filled with life and excited to be together for a divine purpose. The overwhelming sentiment shared was "let's do this again and soon!"
Indeed, the community of First UMC Lodi is a community led by the Holy Spirit in a of life in love. #hopeisfoundhere.
Click here to watch a video of the day.