Loving Our Community and Our World
Here are some of the FUN WAYS we have loved on our community and our world! At the bottom of this page are links to our two long-term global initiatives, our "Sister Churches" in Papua New Guinea and Panama.
THE DECHERD DIAPER DERBY When the Franklin County Health Department put out a plea for diapers and wipes, the Decherd Church sprang into action. Some in our church family had not been in the diaper aisle for many years and found themselves asking store clerks for directions. It was humorous to see budget-conscious shoppers checking out all the local stores and comparing notes about where the best deals were in town. As the collection of diapers and wipes began to grow at the front of the church, they were displayed around the communion table whose inscription reads, "This do in remembrance of Me." When the diapers were delivered to the County, the church was surprised to learn that it had collected the most diapers and wipes of any single person or organization. The project wasn't about claiming that honor, though, It was about helping as many needy moms as possible.
LATRINES IN CAMBODIA Jocelyn Mercado is not your usual teen. She is a veteran missionary even though she is still completing her high school education. Jocelyn approached the church regarding a Spring Break trip. Destination: Cambodia, half a world away. With a team of classmates, she would make a 19-hour flight to the province of Kompong. There ADRA, a Christian relief organization, was already at work with the rural poor and at-risk populations of several provinces. One of ADRA's initiatives was to improve heath and water sanitation. Jocelyn exclaimed, "There are only a few makeshift outhouses in the area where we will be working. That is why 24 of us will be happily building latrines in the jungle." With funding from the Decherd Church to purchase latrines and a willing teen, we were able to make a difference for people we will never know this side of Heaven.
PROJECT W.A.R.M. Rural areas in Mexico do not have local access to sophisticated medical services found in the larger cities. Thus families are forced to make the long journey from their village to places where help is available for those most sick. Marina Montes, a friend of the Decherd Church, had seen the challenge first-hand when a friend's husband needed such care. As families came to the hospital with their loved one, the hospital would only allow one person to be in the room with the patient. Additional family members had to set up makeshift outdoor camps using cardboard or whatever type of covering they could find. Cold weather and lack of adequate food for these waiting families was a constant challenge. That's when the Decherd Church decided to launch Project W.A.R.M. (Wrapping Amigos Residing in Mexico). The project grew even bigger when First Church of Decherd partnered with us. Fleece throws were purchased and packed for delivery by Ms. Montes to these at-risk families. Recipients of the throws were also given a card with a Bible verse and a note with the first name of the giver, "your friend in the United States."
EVERYONE KNOWS HIM You will see James walking through the center of our small downtown. His clothes are always a bit tattered, but he has a big smile and a hearty wave to friends passing through town. Once in a while James will wander into the church during services or a meeting and interrupt in a manner that would make some church folks uncomfortable or dismissive. Sometimes he has a story to tell of how God is blessing him. Sometimes, it's just a long rant that betrays his addiction to alcohol. And sometimes he needs a loaf of bread or a ride somewhere. He never seems to stay long. James talks about baptism, wonders why God has given up on him, and sometimes is just looking for a listening ear for another story that is hard to follow. But James is never seen as an interruption. Somewhere we seem to remember that Jesus loves James as much as the the least of these in the "cleaned-up church crowd."
THANKSGIVING WITH THE NEIGHBORS There are many ways to share food resources with the community. The Decherd Church uses the Thanksgiving holiday to provide food and an invitation to services. Gift baskets filled with fruit, nuts, pasta, and other staples are hand packed by the members. The colorful packaging also includes a simple paperback book that tells the basic story of God's love, as well as a post card showing the church and an invitation to services printed on the back. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, the church family walks the neighborhood and leaves a gift basket for each family. Though the event has become a tradition, the smiles of greatful recipients is fresh every year.
"M" IS FOR MOTHERS AND MISSING CHURCH. Courthouse Square in the heart of Winchester was the perfect place for a whole congregation that had skipped church for a weekend. It was Franklin County, Tennessee's first One-day Community Outreach event and Decherd's two Adventist chuches were poised to share a blessing. With more than 1,200 bottles of cold water, Bibles, financial assistance for medical supplies, and a broad selection of pamphlets, the historic Decherd Church joined First Church and other local congregations to serve people in need from throughout the region and to pray with people. Organized by the Christian Medical and Dental Associates of Southern Tennessee, the all-day event provided free medical screenings, free dental screenings and extractions, bags of grocers, and free clothing. Churches, civic groups, and businesses partnered to support the massive outreach event. Just a week earlier the Decherd Church had distributed Mother's Day baskets filled with personal and practical items for the women of the community surrounding the church. All are part of an ongong focus of "Sharing God's Love in Practical Ways," a concept birthed by author and speaker Ruthie Jacobsen.
In 2015 Decherd was involved once again in what is now an annual event. T-shirts emblazoned with "Decherd SDA Church" and other sponsors were worn by organizers and volunteers as people flocked to Courthouse Square.
SUMMER CAMP -- FOR THE COMMUNITY. Thousands of young people leave home each summer for a week of camp with all its crafts, boating, cabin living, and traditional treats away from home. But the Decherd Church had a special audience it wanted to sponsor. Word was shared with case workers, physicians, and through a newpaper article that the church was willing to sponsor up to four people from the community to attend Blind Camp. When the church discovered that there didn't seem to be that need in our local population, the church simply moved in a new direction. A young foster-child with severe medical issues needed to go to Diabetic Camp where there would be helpful resources as well as all the other trappings of a traditional summer camp. With the stroke of the treasurer's pen, the church blessed another member of our community. We don't know the person's gender, name, or age. But that doesn't matter. God has that covered.
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