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The Bishop's Challenge: Bear a Unifying Witness on January 16

As a new year approaches, Bishop Wallis Ohl has issued a challenge to the diocese: Let's raise up 100 Episcopalians to take part in the MLK Day of Service on January 16.

"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'

"Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities. On Monday, January 16, the Tarrant Area Community of Churches will begin their second annual MLK Day of Service," Bishop Ohl said.

In 2011, 150 people worked together to serve 12 community agencies by weeding community gardens, stocking food pantry shelves, making care packages for children in the hospital, painting apartments to create safe space for victims of domestic violence, writing letters to soldiers overseas, and much, much more.

This year the goal is to have 300 people working together to serve 20 community agencies that reach out to the elderly, the homeless, at-risk youth, children in need, prisoners re-entering society after serving their sentences, families living below the poverty line, people recovering from alcohol and drug abuse, and more.

And here's the bishop's challenge: "Let's make 100 of those people Episcopalians. I've seen how generous this diocese is financially, and I am awestruck by it. Now I want us to match that with our willingness to move out of our comfortable spaces to help our neighbors – to help the ‘least of these.'"

Here how it works ‒ the day will begin with a worship service at Baker Chapel A.M.E., 1050 Humbolt, Fort Worth. Then people will fan out to more than 20 community agencies to help their neighbors before reconvening at 2:30 at Broadway Baptist Church, 305 W. Broadway, Fort Worth.

The bishop challenges each congregation in Tarrant County to create teams of volunteers, and to let the diocese know about their teams by contacting Katie Sherrod at communicationsdirector@episcopaldiocesesfortworth.org. The teams will then each register with Tarrant Area Community of Churches. [See below]

"Part of this, quite frankly, is evangelism. It's a way to let our community see Episcopalians doing what we do best – mission and ministry. To that end, we have created t-shirts for the congregational teams to wear as they work," the bishop said.

The T-shirts are at http://www.cafepress.com/EpiscopalDiocesefFortWorth

So what about congregations not in Tarrant County?

The bishop continued, "I am hoping Episcopalians in other counties will spend time volunteering at an organization in their own communities. Please let Katie Sherrod know about the work you are doing, so we can count your team as part of our goal.

"The MLK Day of Service brings together people of all colors and all religious beliefs to serve the larger community by volunteering their hearts, minds, and muscle to honor the unifying witness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Bearing a unifying witness is the work we Episcopalians in this diocese are called to, and I think January 16 offers us a wonderful opportunity to embody that witness."

Tarrant County groups – or individuals – can register at http://tarrantareacc.org/Events/MLKDayofServiceRegistration.aspx.

For more information, email TACC Executive Director Melinda Veatch at melindav@tarrantareacc.org.

There is also information at http://tarrantareacc.org/Events.aspx

SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES

  • Bethlehem Community Center ‒ serving families in need in the South Side, Polytechnic, and Diamond Hill areas with before and after school programs, food pantry, clothing bank, crisis intervention, adult education, job training, and summer camps. Project Description: sort and sanitize toys, sort clothing, stock food pantry, deep clean classrooms and facility
     
  • Broadway Community Center ‒ serving low-income families and individuals with adult and children's clothing and school uniforms, day laborer's with sack lunches, food pantry, crisis intervention, and outreach to the homeless. Project Description: Sort and stock clothing for clothing bank. Sort and stock food items for food pantry.
     
  • Community Crossroads ‒ serving the Hemphill area of Tarrant County with no-cost dental clinic, clothing bank, food pantry, crisis intervention, hospitality and advocacy. Project Description: Stain and refinish wood tables and children's furniture. Sort clothing for the clothing bank
     
  • Community Food Bank ‒ serving low-income individuals and families across Tarrant county with non-perishable and perishable food items. Project Description: none yet
     
  • Day Resource Center for the Homeless ‒ the resource of last resort for the chronically homeless of Tarrant County. Project Description: play board games and serve coffee with homeless clients in upstairs conference room, help clients stow their belongings in Storage Facility, hand out towels and hygiene items, and distribute mail in mail area. High contact with clients.
     
  • Feed by Grace Ministries ‒ serves homeless individuals with Saturday program, mentoring, life skills programs, and other training and support. Project Description: none yet
     
  • First Street Methodist Mission ‒ Serving low-income families and homeless individuals and families with crisis intervention, identification, food bank, clothing bank, and sack lunches. Project Description: hand out sack lunches to homeless guests, serve coffee, and visit with those who stay to eat their lunch, sort clothing donations for clothing bank, and put together hygiene kits.
     
  • H.O.P.E. Farm ‒ Serving K-Middle-School boys in the Morningside area of Fort Worth with before and after-school programming, summer programming, mentoring and tutoring, music programming, special programming, and life skills training. Project Description: none yet.
     
  • MacDonald YMCA ‒ Serving families in the Polytechnic area of Fort Worth with after-school programming, athletic programs, health programs, youth programs, and other community offerings. Project Description: deep clean gym equipment; work with visitors to the center; wash, dry, and fold gym towels.
     
  • Meals on Wheels ‒ Serving pre-cooked meals to elderly homebound throughout Tarrant County. Project Description: none yet
     
  • N.I.C.A. ‒ Serving low-income families and elderly individuals in the Northside area of Fort Worth with food and clothing bank, after-school programming, direct and social services, job skills, and other assistance. Project Description: clean and inventory food pantry, pull and sort old case files, organize leftover Christmas toys.
     
  • Opening Doors for Women in Need ‒ Serving women who have experience physical and emotional trauma. Project Description: work in community garden, which provides produce for families and the elderly in the Como area of Fort Worth.
     
  • Presbyterian Night Shelter ‒ providing overnight shelter for homeless men, women, and children and permanent housing for veterans and individuals with mental illness. Project Description: paint rooms in their Safe Haven facility.
     
  • Salvation Army ‒ Serving homeless individuals and families with crisis intervention, transitional housing, drug/alcohol programs, and life skills programs. Project Description: serve food, make sack lunches, organize/stock food pantry, general cleaning of facility.
     
  • Samaritan House ‒ providing housing, medical care, life skills training, employment services to formerly homeless individuals with HIV. Project Description: prepare kitchen and dining room for resident's evening meal.
     
  • Union Gospel Mission ‒ a ministry to homeless men, women and children, providing temporary shelter as well as transitional housing, children's programs, adult life and employment skills programs, job training, and much more. Project Description: help prepare for lunch, serve guests, and clean up after the meal.
     
  • YWCA Downtown ‒ Serving women in crisis with transitional housing, life skills and employment training; providing early childhood programs for low-income families. Project Description: work in community garden, do playground maintenance, deep clean toys, classroom furniture in Day Care, wash and detail YWCA bus.
     
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