“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Often, we think of this verse in terms of our personal lives or of those we love. Yet, what if we consider this verse in terms of Christ Church in 2020. Who could’ve imagined that the witness and ministry of the church would be as vibrant and creative as it has been this year?
As you read through this extended list of ministry opportunities and testimonies, be reminded that God is certainly “working all things for His good” in the midst of a pandemic!
Serving & Outreach: Coronavirus Response
At the beginning of the pandemic, we provided lunch to frontline workers serving at 43 Christ Community Health Services Clinics across the city—1,500 individual meals! Member and former CCHS Board Chair Rebecca Kernan shared: “The wonderful love of Christ abounds in our community, and on behalf of the leadership, providers and staff of CCHS I want to thank Christ Church for all of the support, prayers and presence over the last few weeks.”
We continue to support frontline workers through our recent You Are Not Alone Initiative. So far we’ve received 137 responses to whom we will send special gifts to these brave men and women working in hospitals and schools.
Serving & Outreach: Education
When Shelby County Schools announced all virtual learning this fall, working parents needed a safe place for their children. Christ Church stepped up to host a YMCA Virtual Learning Site. Seabrook Hall is transformed during the week, serving the 60 families enrolled. We are intentional to share the Good News with these families. One way is through a weekly Bible Club hosted by our Children’s Ministry team and volunteers. Just last week, each child received their own Bible as a Christmas gift from Christ Church.
At Cornerstone Prep, we supported students through our Blessing of the Backpacks 2nd Mile Offering providing supplies for virtual learning in homes and now at sites throughout the neighborhood. In addition, our Young Adult Ministry built 16 picnic tables for students who have now returned. School principal Hannah Hudson shared: “Thank you for giving your time, talents, energy to organize the picnic table project! We are grateful our students have an outdoor space available to them during COVID-style elementary school.”
Serving & Outreach: Children
You exceeded expectations by providing 130 Red Tubs as Christmas gifts for foster parents to share with the children in their care. That’s $34,000 in gifts for these families and support for the ongoing holistic care that the Memphis Family Connection Center provides to adoptive and foster families in the city.
Serving & Outreach: Mission ‘Trip’
Internationally, we were still able to participate virtually with YUGO—our partner in Mexico. You contributed $9,000 to help build a family a home. The mother of the family said: “This home is a long-awaited answer to prayer. It is a dream come true. A huge and unexpected surprise. I am so grateful, first to God for providing this blessing but also to everyone who contributed to make this dream a reality. Watch this video to see more.
Special Needs Ministry
Special Needs Ministry hasn’t missed a beat in the past nine months. From the Virtual Memphis Joy Prom to numerous Pop-Up events and one-on-one lunches. We have offered Sunday school, Total Tuesdays/exercise and Breakfast Club each Friday (Zoom and in person). One parent recently wrote: “You have no idea what the Zoom calls and special activities have meant to our daughter and her friends. Your ministry is a God send!”
Christ Church launched 10 ALPHA Groups with 100 people participating. A number of those involved have not been in a Community Life Group before. One long-time member said: “I did not have high expectations for ALPHA, but it ignited a passion for evangelism I haven’t had in a long time. I can’t wait to start another one and invite friends who do not know Jesus.”
Sports Ministry quickly pivoted this fall to an in-house football and soccer league with 361 kids participating in our Fall Sports Program. Yes, even in a pandemic—with safety procedures in place—we hosted 361 kids each weekend. Praise God! One lay leader in the ministry said: “This ministry often serves as the front door to Christ Church for many families by teaching sports fundamentals in a Christ-centered environment. The relationships built between participants, their coaches and their families are impactful and create a real sense of community.”
Student Ministries offered both online and in-person ministry opportunities over these past nine months and transitioned back to all in-person ministry gatherings in a tent in the Courtyard in September. Students were able to grow spiritually through weekly gatherings: Sunday school, Sunday Night Bible Studies and Wednesday Night Refuge. Student Ministries also provided relational connections and discipleship opportunities by hosting one-on-one meet ups after school, Student Leadership Team Huddles and team gatherings. Additionally, the ministry is so grateful to all of the adult leaders who continued to show up in the midst of this pandemic to minister to and disciple their D-Groups this past fall.
Fitness Ministry hosted online and in-person classes for an average of 70 people daily. This became a vital ministry for many adults in the community looking for the physical outlet in the midst of the pandemic. Our dedicated instructors served these folks physically and spiritually in a time that could otherwise be isolating for so many. One participant shared: “The Zoom fitness classes were more than just exercise, but I felt a sense of community as participants shared prayer requests and Jan (Averwater) prayed at the end of the class. You don’t get that in most fitness classes!”
CARE Ministries: Countless hours were spent calling members, and several thousand cards were mailed by staff and volunteers to care for those in seasons of celebrations and heartache…offering Jesus, the hope of the world. The Care team also hosted two Thrive groups to support those who have experienced anxiety during these days. Material for New Hope Grief Care, including a six-week guide and companion book Faith and Grief: Questions You’re Asking, was designed and developed. Two groups, “Loss of Spouse” and “Adult Loss of Parent,” piloted the material. One group co-facilitator found that her own experience of grief from the death of her father was explored again: “When Jacky asked me to be a part of the New Hope grief group, my initial response was – what if I can’t do it? After much prayer, I felt like this was something the Lord had prepared me for. I never dreamed being one of the leaders of the group would also lead to healing for myself…” New Hope Grief Care will offer loss specific care groups beginning in February 2021.
The pandemic provided new ways to reach new people. We hosted eight Discover Christ Church gatherings on Zoom and in person. This year a total of 42 people joined the church, and an additional 27 students went through Confirmation. That’s 69 new members! One new family shared: “We truly love our church. We visited Christ Church for a Saturday service and again that Sunday morning and loved it…I became involved in the UMW; our oldest attends youth group. I helped lead New Hope Grief group meetings with Jacky (Gatliff), and we both have led small group studies and are very involved in Sunday school. The biggest blessing happened about two months ago when our 9-year-old accepted Christ and was baptized by Shane. Christ Church means so much to us. It’s hard to put into words just how much.”
Women’s Ministry Director Laura Greenwell had big plans for 2020. While most events were cancelled, that didn’t stop the women of Christ Church from making a difference. One cancellation that the girls from Bing Dance House always look forward to was the annual Soup for the Soul event. However, Director RaSheema Thomas and Laura were thwarted in providing a fun, engaging Bible study. Laura and RaSheema dropped off ingredients for Laura’s Taco Soup at each girls house, and then they set up a virtual cooking class to make the soup with the girls. This is just one example of many from our Women’s Ministry. Laura shared: “It took a lot of creativity, but oh how God worked during this dark time shining the bright light of Hope.”
Career Transition Group
The Career Transition (CT) Group has been meeting at Christ Church since 1979 and was the first one in the city. David Lanthier has led CT for the past nine years, and the group averages 10-12 participants each week. When the pandemic hit, the CT group immediately started meeting on Zoom. One recent participant shared: “I have been through the CT Groups several times, and their importance and what they mean to me is beyond measure. I am so thankful for Dave Lanthier, Ginger Holland and all the members for their friendship and support. This support is what gets you through when you are feeling down.”
East Ministry Center
Pandemic could not stop an East Ministry Center tradition from happening. More than 120 people came to our Trunk or Treat drive through with 60 percent of the participants from outside of our church body. The community was able to experience joy in the midst of trial while receiving the truth of scripture given to them as they came through the drive through.
On election night 2020, our young adult’s community gathered to be able to have a panel where they could submit any question they had on their spiritual faith or life. Four members from local ministry partners and members of church staff shared as we united under the cross of Christ. Our community responded as the church served and serves as the perfect place to wrestle with tough questions.
Just last week, Liz Wilds, a church member and nurse at Methodist University Hospital, contacted the church to see if the elementary kids in Sunday school could make three posters of encouragement for a really, really overwhelmed nursing staff. The children made NINE posters that were delivered to the hospital. On her Facebook, Liz shared this quote from E.E. Hale: “I am only one, but still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I CAN DO.” And she continued:
“Thank you to the precious children of Christ Church Memphis for sparking JOY today through your artwork. Y’all, this has been quite a year. However, find something that makes a positive difference… and do more of that! Whether it’s sending artwork to healthcare workers, checking in on friends via FaceTime, running an errand for someone who can’t get out, leaving goodies on a porch… I hope that you find something to be the light to others in a world that needs YOU so much!“
THANK YOU for supporting the ministry of the church. You have been faithful throughout the pandemic, and as a result lives have been changed. Pray expectantly. God is working out all things for His glory!
If you would consider Christ Church for your year-end giving, click here.