Sunday
Mar022014

FOLLOW JESUS, CHANGE THE WORLD

 

Our mission statement is just that simple.  Every week in worship we read our Village Statement and it ends with “we are followers of Jesus and WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD”.  And that is what guides us into the world to change it.  The thought that Jesus and all of his followers can and do effect great change in this world, when we work together. (pictured below is the banner in our worship space to remind us).



At the Village we take that commitment seriously.  We are a community of faith who believes that Jesus calls us to make the world a better place for a wide variety of different people and we try to live that commitment out together in as many ways as possible.  The founder of the Methodist Church (one of our two great, partner denominations), John Wesley, gave us our calling when he said “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can”.

First, our world is a gift from God and we take protecting our environment seriously.  Whenever possible we use recycled materials and practice recycling ourselves.  On many occasions we have gone into the community to encourage people to use reuse-able, recycleable water bottles rather than just buying water bottles at a store.  This includes community festivals like the Old West End Festival, the Maumee Street Fair, and Pride.  We have also committed to helping people use reuse-able shopping bags as well.  At the Harrison Rally Day celebration we handed out Village Canvass bags for free.  In recognition of our efforts, our one partner denomination, the United Church of Christ has awarded us a Green Award. (pictured below).



As followers of Jesus we believe in standing up for women.  Jesus was an equalitarian who helped elevate the women of his time and the Village Church stands strong for women’s rights.  We have been active participants in Take Back The Night, an effort to advocate against violence against women, providing hospitality at the even and marching alongside women.  We have also held fund raising events and collected items for the YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter.  As our two partner denominations stand strong for a woman’s right to reproductive health, Pastor Cheri is a trained advocate for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (below is a logo used by the YWCA Battered Women's shelter (top) and our Blues Christmas fundraiser (bottom)).

 Followers of Christ should be advocates for the poor and the homeless and again we take that seriously as the Village Church.  We have worked with numerous organizations who provide services to the poor and those without shelter.  Village members have been frequent volunteers with Food for Thought which provides a weekly meal and hygiene items to Northwest Ohio’s people in need.  If you’ve never been to their Friday night lunch packing or their Saturday give away, you have missed a chance to have great fun and fellowship.  Volunteers are encouraged to have a meal with those who need their help and both can become quite an event of joy.  We have worked also help the hungry with the Seagate Food Bank which provide nutrition assistance to those in need from children and families to the elderly.  At least for a time, we held the record for the most elder nutrition boxes packed by a church in a session, but are happy to see that bested again and again.(pictured below, a group from the Village at Food For Thought on Christmas Day).



 We have worked for years with Family Promise, formerly known as the Interfaith Hospitality Network, who uses vacant church classrooms, etc to help house families in need.  While we deliberately don’t have a brick and mortar facility, we have helped many times with staffing events and preparing and sharing meals with those in need.  Also, members of the Village have worked with FOCUS who helps individuals  and families make the transition back for homelessness to housing. (Pictured below, Pastor Cheri & her husband Kurt head off to the focus gala as Kurt's favorite movie character & Pastor Cheri as her glamorous self).   



Recently, we as a community undertook a new way to service.  Two of our members had an opportunity to purchase a home for very little cost.  As both are on very fixed incomes, and busy, dedicated servants of God and fixing their home would have taken them years.  But a group of Villagers got together and started the R&B Blues Project.  With the assistance of several other churches and friends of the Village, we raised thousands of dollars and put in thousands of person hours and the project was completed in a little over a year. (Part of our team taking a break from the R&B Blues Project).



The Bible encourages believers to stand up for the those who can not stand up for themselves, to be a voice for the voiceless and we at the Village take that challenge seriously.  When groups find themselves in need of further allies, we are there.  After the decision in the Trayvon Martin shooting, Pastor Cheri was one of the featured speakers at a rally for peace and justice.  Members of the Village work every year to ensure all, especially the African American Community have rides to the polls and to ensure everyone’s right to vote is preserved.  (Pastor Cheri & Kurt at Jobs With Justice march, the people who run the ride to the polls operation out of Kurt's office).



As one of the more oppressed groups by other churches is the LGBT community, we take our commitment that all means ALL seriously.  As we first formed and prepared to enter our first worship space for the first time, the Village Church made the commitment to be a safe and welcoming space for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgenered community.  Our first vote, unanimous in it’s result was the join the Reconciling Ministries Network (UMC) and Open and Affirming (ONA, UCC) network.  We are active participants in Toledo Pride yearly, providing hospitality and an affirming presence.  Members of the Village are actively working with organizations such as Equality Toledo, Equality Ohio, The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign.  During it’s infancy, the Village helped create and host the first Transgender Support Group in Northwest Ohio.  The Village has hosted anti-bullying rallies.  Pastor Cheri and her husband have received awards for their advocacy as well.  (Below, Baby Hope stands up against bullying of LGBT teens and chidren).



Jesus provided healing and care for those with physical and mental disabilities and we do our best to follow that example.  Members of the Village are regular participants in the MS Society’s Bike to the Bay in honor of one of our founding members who struggles with this disease.  We have also made a strong commitment to the Out of the Darkness Walk, which raises money and awareness for those struggling with suicide and depression.  Our worship spaces have been handicap accessible from day one and will continue to be so and we’ve greatly appreciated the assistance of the Ability Center and others who have made that possible.   We have also worked hard to assist those struggling with HIV/AIDS.  The Village has worked closely with the Aids Resource Center to offer hope and financial assistance when needed. (Below the Village Bike to the Bay Team).

 

As disciples of Christ we believe in our community and practice what we call radical hospitality.  To us, all should feel welcome not only in our worship space but in our regional community.  Members of our Outreach Team have provided acts of kindness and hospitality at community events throughout our region.  Since our first weeks as a faith community, even before weekly worship, we began serving in our community.  The earliest members of the Village community went out into the world to provide some hospitality and fun activities at the Fourth of July Festival held annually at Harvard Circle including free games and ice cold water.  At Take Back the Night, thanks to the generosity of members who work with Bea’s Blend in Toledo, a local importer and roaster of coffee, we offered free coffee and water to the marchers.  At the Old West End Festival we have hosted a Village Free Store, where we gave away used books and clothes and then provided a free meal and concert by the Village Band.  This year it was the Village Oasis with a place to rest and free water.  Offering some free hospitality at events like Toledo Pride, The Old West End Festival, The Maumee Street Fair, Harrison Rally Day, the Harvard Circle Fourth of July Event and the like are our way of showing that we believe in our community and all members of it are beloved children of God, despite messages our culture would present the other way, and who are welcome at our church and community. (Our Village Oasis at the Old West End Festival is seen below).


Our commitment to caring for our world means our whole world.  Our main focus is Northwest Ohio, but the Village Church has reached beyond Northwest Ohio.  We have worked with Second Chance, an organization from Toledo, but that has a mission to stop human trafficking throughout the US and the world.  We have worked with Fairfield Orphanage in

Mutare Zimbawe to help out children who have been orphaned, many by HIV/AIDS as they grow up and find careers that offer them a bright future.  Also, we have worked with our fellow United Methodist Churches in helping fund a new airplane for the Wings of the Mornning Project in the North Katanga District in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Wings of the Morning provides a supply chain, by air for vital medical supplies and transporting ill patients throughout the area.   Also we have worked with our UMC partners in helping build a church at Concha del Oro in Mexico.  Half of the proceeds of Blues Christmas 2013 went to this project thanks to the help of a number of our UMC and UCC partner churches and the generousity of the 3rd Floor Band.   (pictured below is the pilot, Captain Gaston Ntambo and the new plane that is serving the residents of The DRC). 


Finally, we are a Christian Church, progressive in belief and we believe in strengthening all such communities of faith.  Members of the Village have received training in designing and presenting creative worship experiences, using social media to spread the word about our church, marketing and outreach, music ministries, preaching, and starting new worship services and faith communities.  As a member of the larger body of God, we feel we should share these skills.  The Village, and especially Pastor Cheri, help other communities like ours trying to reach out to a broken world.  We have hosted regional training sessions on these issues now and will continue to do so in the future.  (Pictured below Reverend Dr. Karyn Wiseman & Pastor Cheri hosting a regional traing for progressive churches on using social media and planning innovative, 21st Century worship). 



This page is not to trumpet what we do.  At the Village we don’t do this not for “credit” We do this because we are God’s beloved children and because we want everyone to know they are too.  As part of a larger family, we have an obligation to treat people as family and to spread this message in every way we can, as the old expression says, using words when necessary.  If you want to be a part of a community like this, please consider joining us. (Below is one of our teams from the Seagate Food Bank).