Inasmuch: Mercy Team
November 2022 | Written by Maribeth Griessel
As The Porch continues to focus on the various teams/committees at Gashland, this month we hope to offer clarification on a diverse ministry, the Mercy Team. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we find the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, describing the blessedness of those who exhibit certain qualities. In verse 7 our Lord tells us, “Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.” And who among us does not long for mercy? But how does the Mercy Team function? In what ways or actions is the mercy of Gashland manifested?
As a leading member of this team, Mary Lancaster offered some priorities, “As for the most important aspect of Mercy, I can say that focus changes based on the needs of our members and regular attenders. There will always be needs within our body, it will be a matter of those needs being heard and then those who can meet those needs being identified.”
In the Bible one merciful act God’s people were to provide was the caring for widows and orphans, and of course it is hoped that the modern day church fulfills this charge as well. But the GEPC Mercy Team expands on this as it seeks to meet various needs of those within this body. As team members explained, we all experience seasons of life, some where we give, providing help to those in need, and some seasons where we are to receive. And oddly enough it can often be more difficult to be on the receiving end (especially asking for some type of help) than it can be to be giving.
“Mercy Team” can be considered an umbrella, a name covering a multitude of sub-teams, in a way, ministries within ministries. The following are in no particular order or importance, but we will begin with the Care Team, offering visits and phone calls. Team member, Wesley Langford explained, “I personally find the most important work of the Mercy Team to be providing ways for the shut-ins who are members of our church to be able to participate and feel like they are part of our church family and community. One way we do this is through the provision of CD’s with the sermons on them and sometimes stereos for them to listen on.” Some Mercy Team volunteers visit and/or make phone calls to church family members who are homebound, hospitalized or in care facilities (including rehab, nursing homes, assisted living or hospice), becoming a “one-on-one” friend, contacting their special person at least once monthly through in person and/or telephone visits. Another offering of this team is to arrange for communion cups to be provided either in home or in a care facility.
A seeming extension of the Care Team is the Card Ministry. The volunteer(s) sends greeting cards to church family members offering them specific encouragement for situations they are experiencing. Cards are also sometimes sent to others in the Christian community. As Robin Bowin clarified, “This ministry is a way of reaching out to our church attenders, the local community and the Christian community as a whole.” Izzy Foreman and her team create beautiful hand-made birthday cards that are sent to Gashland members.
Two other areas of ministry go hand in hand, the compassion meals and the funeral/memorial meal ministries. Volunteers provide meals for members of the Gashland church family who are experiencing illness, the birth of a baby, recovering from surgery, loss of a loved one, etc. These compassion meals are definitely a blessing to those dealing with stressful (happy or sad!) situations. Laura Cooper provides excellent oversight to this ministry, organizing volunteers to provide these much needed home-cooked meals. Connie Sommer and her amazing team provide a meal for families following funerals or memorial services at the church.
Another ministry under the Mercy Team umbrella is Compassion Wheels. Various volunteers are available to provide transportation if needed to and from worship services, medical appointments, errands or other church activities for those who are no longer able to drive or have no one else who can offer transportation.
Josiah Colle oversees the HelpNet Ministry, which coordinates and provides assistance for church members in need of help with home maintenance projects they are no longer able to accomplish on their own. For example, HelpNet workers may be able to scale that tall ladder to change a smoke alarm battery for a Gashland brother or sister who can’t handle this task.
Periodically there will be information in The Link on Sunday mornings regarding donations to the Mercy Fund. The monies available in this fund are to assist church members/regular attenders in meeting an unexpected or emergency financial need.
From time to time visitors (non-Gashland members/attenders) will request assistance from GEPC to provide food, clothing, gas or help with other expenses. Though the church does not meet such requests with cash or gas cards, needy individuals may be given “Samaritan Sacks”, separated into food, hygiene and home basics packages for single men, women, children or families, designed to assist these persons in getting through an unexpected time of need.
Though there are just a few members of the actual Mercy Team, there are many, many volunteers serving in various capacities, many of which have been described in this article. When asked why she chooses to be a part of the Mercy Team, Robin explained, “Serving each other and bearing each others’ burdens keeps our heart open and turned toward Jesus. There is always something we can do to care for others in our community, no matter our limitations or situations, and the Mercy Team can help you with finding a service area that fits your needs, skills, interest and schedule.”
If you yourself, or someone you know could benefit from one of the many acts of mercy available through this team, please contact email@example.com.
And especially, please consider offering to serve in this very important ministry. There are so many ways….Can you cook? Can you make a phone call? Can you change a lightbulb? Can you serve communion to a home or nursing home bound person? Can you drive someone to a doctor appointment? Can you sign and mail a greeting card? Remember, as our Savior told us,
“INASMUCH as you have done it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.”