“I really enjoy finding out what people are passionate about and connecting them to ways to fulfill that passion,” says Sarah Heckert, a member of YGBC in York, Pa. (Dustin Godshall, lead pastor).
Sarah and her husband, Micah, who is an elder at the church, helped start and lead Embrace York in its beginning years. Embrace York was created by Pastor Dustin Godshall in 2018 as a result of collaborating with a cohort of seven Charis Fellowship pastors, many of which provide a similar service opportunity for their own congregations.
“Embrace York was an idea that came from the New Holland (Pa.) Grace Family Church. They do Love Lanco (Lancaster County). I ran with the idea here in York,” says Dustin.
Embrace York takes place in lieu of a Sunday morning service once a year. The goal of the project is to share the love of Christ in the community through practical service.
“We worship together by going out and being the hands and feet of Christ in the community within a few miles of our building,” says Sarah.
Sarah and Micah became involved with Embrace York in it’s first year when Sarah served on staff as the connections coordinator. In making contact with schools and nonprofits in the area, she develops projects and assigns them to teams.
“I choose team leaders for each project according to their strengths and interests, and helped them promote and fill their teams for Embrace York days,” she says.
Each year has looked a little different depending on the contacts the church makes and the current needs of the community. One year, YGBC had six different projects that teams of ten completed, while this year they had three teams of 10-30 participants. The event typically lasts about three hours.
Options for projects are suited to fit most ages and skill sets in the church. Families are encouraged to serve together. This gives parents an opportunity to model and teach about service to their kids. Some projects have consisted of painting trim and doors at a local elementary school and picking up trash along the railroad. An outdoor and indoor option is offered each year. This year, an option was offered to make encouragement kits for older members of the congregation who can’t worship in person anymore. In the past volunteers have also made encouragement cards for teachers and students at local schools as well as missionaries the church supports.
The Embrace York model remains fluid and flexible so anyone from the church can participate on their own level. Due to Covid-19 precautions, a family from YGBC did not join the corporate service project, but rather hosted their own Embrace York day in which they picked up trash in their neighborhood. Sarah has been encouraged by the response of her fellow congregants while being on mission together.
“While serving together, I love when I hear people say things like, ‘I had no idea there was this need’ or ‘I wonder if there are ways we can keep serving with this organization long-term,’” says Sarah excitedly.
This year, Embrace York 2020 took place on July 26. The major goal was to clean up trash on the railroad tracks in downtown York. You can view the preview video the Heckert’s made here.
[Connect:] Send Sarah and Micah an encouraging note here.
This story appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Charis Fellowship, click here.