Local Community Involvement
Many of our local efforts come through the work of the Wellness Team. The group helps the community be healthy and well-fed through fresh food distribution, food packs for school kids, and regular blood drives. When school resumes each fall, they provide backpacks, supplies, and a variety of other items to kids and their families. The group also helps us be wrapped in prayer in blankets created by members of the church.
The mission of the Wellness Team is to encourage, educate, and equip members and the community to build and sustain healing ministries, and promote health in mind, body and spirit.
In 2023 we restarted our adult mission trip program with a Spring trip to Camp Lake Louise where, working with others, trails were cleared and 1,200 trees were planted. A Fall trip is planned for Cass Community Social Services in Detroit.
FUMC schedules to be a blood donation site at least twice a year. Blood donation is very important to our community. Often when near a holiday or the Winter season, Michigan has a desperate need for blood donations. Your donation can save 3 lives. People who have had surgery, or been in an accident, as well as those receiving treatment for cancer are a few, who we all know and love, who could benefit from your donation of blood. Donors and volunteer workers are needed at each blood drive.
In 2014, the Wellness Team started the Back to School Blast to help children and families get ready for the new school year. The event is free and is held in August shortly before school is to start. The first year, we had back to school haircuts, vision screenings, food, games, prizes, education on nutrition, good hand washing, dental screenings, and gave each child a new package of socks. In 2014 we had 88 children plus parents. In 2015 we added a gently used school clothing closet at the request of the parents. In 2018, a new partnership was formed with the Center for Family Health and the Jackson Human Relations Commission for a bigger event. It was so big that we moved some activities to the park with indoor activities in the church. We have grown from our beginning year of 88 children to 826 children in 2019. With that, we have added a backpack and personal hygiene items give-a-way, music, bounce houses, and more games. Vendors were added as a resource for children and families to involve the community. This helped make everyone aware of what’s in the community to help them. The 2020 effort was scaled back to a drive-through event, but we look forward to having a full-service back to school event in the future.
Each year FUMC supports one or more mission efforts at Christmas. Each year we partner with Jackson County Health and Human Services Department for their Angel Tree project in which we gather wrapped gifts for around 50 needy children, many of whom are in the foster care system. In 2022 we also gathered donations of 290 items for the Together We Can Make a Difference Baby Pantry including clothing, wipes, ointment, shampoo and lotion.
Our Community Food Ministry has partnered with the South Michigan Food Bank to reduce hunger and food insecurity in Jackson County. We accomplish this through two efforts. The first is our Fresh Food Give-a-ways which are held on the 2nd Monday of every month at 1:30pm at the Cortland Street entrance. The second is the After School Pack Program. This program provides supplemental food for students at numerous schools in the area. The schools identify those with food insecurity based on their qualifying for free or reduced meals. The bags of food are packaged on Friday mornings and delivered to the schools for distribution. For more information contact the church office.
The mission of the Jackson Interfaith Shelter is working with people experiencing homelessness by providing emergency shelter, prepared meals and assisting with other physical, emotional and spiritual needs when possible. The shelter provides three meals daily to clients as well as community members who present a need. Their goal is to help those experiencing homelessness work toward securing housing as quickly as possible; they encourage employment. Once every other month FUMC supplies volunteers for Dinner Church where we serve the meal, eat with residents and lead the worship service; individuals volunteer on a regular basis that fits their schedules.
The Jackson Personal Care Ministry is a cooperative of local churches and faith- based ministries that represent a community of diverse theologies and ethnic backgrounds. Other community organizations, service clubs, professionals, and individuals support the effort as well. Jackson has more than its share of poverty. Nearly 30% of city residents live below the poverty level. Food stamps and food pantries help, but they fall short of fully meeting basic needs. The pantry serves low – income residents of Jackson County, with distribution limited to one person per household per week. Clients show proof of residence; proof of financial need is not required.
Our Wellness Team wanted to make sure that our church family members and our family and community friends felt our love when needing comforting, so we started the Prayer Blanket program. Many church members make the blankets with loving hands and pray-full hearts. Please take a blanket from the glass cabinet in the Welcome Center to give to someone who needs to know they are loved and prayed for.
We are in partnership with Together We Can Make a Difference and other area churches for the Priceless Gift Store. The Priceless Gift Store has operated since 2005 but is only open 12 days a year, beginning on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The very special thing about this store is everything is free for families who otherwise would not be able to provide Christmas gifts for their children. With volunteers needed for preparing the space to look like a true shopping center, gathering toys, mittens, hat, scarves, books, etc., the “sale” begins at Christmastime by helping people choose treasures for their children. In 2022 JFUMC made and donated 397 hat and mitten sets.