By Rev. Shane Moore
When we stopped in-person worship on March 13, 2020, we put “Building Closed, Ministry Ongoing” on our outside reader board. Throughout the last eight months, this has been more than just a slogan but a way of life for Wesley United Methodist Church. We have continued many of our ministries during this time and increased our partnership with Ridgeview Elementary in the Yakima Public Schools. Through this expanded partnership, we were able to start a new ministry.
In August, our local paper ran a story about the need for children’s masks throughout our county. Using money from the Fund for Families and donations from Wesley UMC members, we were able to buy 5,000 cloth masks. We shared 1,500 of those with churches throughout the Seven Rivers District, with the other 3,500 shared with different educational and community groups in Yakima. Of that 3,500, 2,000 masks went to Education Service District 105 for use at early learning centers throughout Yakima County, and 500 masks went to a local non-profit working with Latinx families in the area.
We shared 300 masks with Ridgeview Elementary that they handed out at their weekly food distribution. Trina Hovsepian, the assistant principal, offered, “Families were so grateful to receive them. A few of them really expressed how helpful it was that we were able to provide them. Because we have students from all over the Yakima School District, and even the Yakima Valley, come to our distribution site, we are able to reach even more students.” Families were so grateful to receive an extra mask for their kids that are part of in-person school. But our partnership with Ridgeview does not end there.
Through the leadership of Wesley member Amy Halvorson Miller, Wesley built a Little Free Pantry. Miller serves as one of the leaders in the feeding programs at Wesley and heard a report on NPR about the Little Free Pantry program. She said, “We get very generous donations for our feeding ministry. We always have extra. I realized we could do this.”
K.C. Mitchell, a member of Wesley UMC and principal at Ridgeview Elementary, built our Little Free Pantry. The pantry is stocked with non-perishable foods as well as unused toiletry items. To continue the partnership with Ridgeview, Trina Hovespian is leading the collection of items from staff at Ridgeview to stock the Little Free Pantry.
While we had already begun a partnership with Ridgeview Elementary, connectional support from the Funds for Families helped us build upon this partnership and look for new ways to grow together.
Rev. Shane Moore is pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Yakima, Washington.