It’s not everyday that a church cancels its regular worship services to work all day in the community but that is exactly what First United Methodist Church in Joshua, Texas did last Sunday for the inaugural #LoveThe558 project. I have never been more proud, or grateful, for a church than I was last weekend. I am still amazed and impressed by the overwhelming response of participants and all the work we were able to complete in just a few hours!
More than 175 willing servants participated in #LoveThe558. We had 18 specific project sites within the city limits of Joshua, along with groups of folks at the church preparing meals, smoking BBQ, cleaning classrooms, organizing the attic and storage building, and remodeling the Helping Hands Food Pantry. There were about a dozen older adults in The Chapel all day praying for the safety of all of our teams, as well as caregivers in Kids’ Korner where they had age-appropriate activities, games, and service projects for children under 10.
One asset that our community is fortunate to have is a professional drone pilot and photographer. Garrett captured some amazing shots of our teams in the field, along roadways, high in the trees and even 300 feet above the fire house!
To create the event’s name, #LoveThe558, I took inspiration from two churches I’ve visited that really embrace the missional lifestyle: Ginghamsburg Church (Ohio) has #LoveThe937 and Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky hosts #LoveTheVille. The idea behind all three is to impact communities with the unbridled love of Jesus and meet the needs of neighbors, friends, and strangers through service and support.
FUMC Joshua’s purpose for #LoveThe558 is to serve the elderly, single parents, and the physically and financially challenged in Joshua. We worked with the City’s code compliance officer to identify residents in need of assistance, as well as specific right-of-ways in need of litter pick-up. As the list of participants grew, so did the number of projects.
#LoveThe558 got off the ground through partnerships with the local Chamber of Commerce, local businesses, civic leaders, and social media. FUMC Joshua’s mission is to love God, grow in grace, and serve others and I think we embodied this statement to the fullest last weekend! Along with the 175+ servants who volunteered their time and energy to the first #LoveThe558 event, we had other vital partners who offered support, including:
- Stars & Stripes Tree Services, LLC
- National Honor Students at Staples Elementary
- City of Joshua, Texas
- Cleburne Times-Review
Husband even participated in #LoveThe558 by using his tractor at Joshua Fire Department to help a group of young men relocate landscaping rock. They also removed tree limbs and picked up litter. Once Kamden realized Daddy was on the tractor, he had to be at the fire statement too!
I realize there is no perfect church and sometimes they become exclusive country clubs only focused on themselves, but when we bear the image of Christ so others may see Him in us I truly believe we are making a difference and bearing His witness. When disciples of Christ come together for outreach projects like #LoveThe558, I know God is smiling. At the end of the day, we were all exhausted but filled with joy because Jesus is our WHY.
Plans are already underway for the next #LoveThe558 event in November. If you’re in the area, come join us!