About God’s Work, Our Hands
God's Work, Our Hands is a national ELCA initiative to get our congregations serving within our communities. Since 2016, the three congregations of the Tri-Cities (WA) have worked together for a weekend of service. This year we saw a record number of participants across all four ministry sites: First Lutheran - Kennewick, First Lutheran - Pasco, Lord of Life (Kennewick), and Pasco Latino Lutheran Ministry (PLLM). Approximately 155 people participated in six service projects across the area over the weekend (October 4-8). This more than doubles last year’s participation of 60! In addition, approximately 80 people from all three congregations joined together for worship in the park on Sunday (moved inside due to rain) and a potluck lunch to celebrate all the work completed. One family on the receiving end of our work joined for worship and the potluck as well.
Here is a summary of our work together:
Before the weekend began, each church was collecting school supplies for SHAKE (FLK & LoL) and Lutheran Community Services (FLP) to be delivered to students.
16 people from all three congregations joined the residents of Luther Senior Center on Wednesday in Richland for worship and a potluck lunch, also provided by congregation members. This was a meaningful time of worship with an ecumenical community.
44 people volunteered to help Pasco Latino Lutheran Ministry (PLLM) with their fall registration. PLLM saw a record turnout of students, who signed up for classes of Citizenship (in either English or Spanish), Spanish classes, English classes, and child care or homework help for youth and children.
16 people volunteered over two days for labor projects in partnership with Rebuilding Mid-Columbia, a local organization. One project focused on deconstructing a 16’ ramp, another on building new stairs, and the last was yard work for someone with muscular degeneration. The latter family even participated in another project by helping us deliver cookies to their nearby fire station!
27 people volunteered with Union Gospel Mission in Pasco, first enjoying a tour of the new men’s facility, followed by a Q & A. People engaged in projects to clean up their property outside and inside by picking up trash and dusting furniture. Meanwhile, some prepared a BBQ lunch that was then served to the 63 residents. Some participants visited with residents and ate lunch with them. Thrivent Action Grant monies were used to buy the meat, ice cream bars, and other food items for the meal.
72 people joined in worship on Sunday at noon, originally planned to be at Yelm Park, but moved inside at First Lutheran - Kennewick due to rain. Worship was inspirational and moving as people from all three congregations worshiped in English and Spanish, and heard testimonies about the weekend’s projects from participants. We sang the new “God’s Work, Our Hands” hymn and blessed our hands, in honor of all the service we are able to do together. An offering was collected ($725) for the women’s shelter at Union Gospel Mission as they work to rebuild it.
80 people enjoyed a potluck lunch at First Lutheran - Kennewick, mostly supplied by an Action Team Grant from Thrivent Financial.
Finally, many people volunteered to help assemble the trays of cookies (baked by 26 people - 4 dozen each - at home ahead of time) to be delivered to fire stations in the area. Each tray was delivered with a large thank you card signed by members from all three congregations. There were 34 trays filled. 30 of them (2 each) went to fire stations in Pasco (4), Richland (4), Kennewick (5), West Richland (1), and Finley (1). The last 4 were delivered to the Road 68 station in Pasco for rural fire stations that are unmanned. They were going to have a volunteer training for all stations that week and could use the cookies for that. Other cookies leftover were shared at the Hospice House and PLLM. Each tray had a blue Thrivent sticker on it, since the trays and some supplies had been provided by a Thrivent Action Team Grant.
We are grateful for the ways the Spirit is at work among us, for the opportunity to serve alongside one another, and for the planning team (from all four ministry sites) that made it happen. We hope it might inspire you to service in your own community.