Epiphany, a season beginning after the bright star at Jesus' birth, and ending with the light beaming from Jesus during his Transfiguration.
During that time, Mount Olivet held a 6-week series, The Light Reveals, to shine a light into the community and see what it uncovered. Every week a partner organization joined us for worship, sharing firsthand stories of the needs of those around us, and the impact of our ongoing partnerships. (Hear their talks here.)
When we took the time to meet our partners and listen to their stories, we found:
- Children going hungry on the weekend without school meals
- Neighbors living in shelter away from domestic abuse
- Families strengthened and empowerd thanks to affordable housing
- Refugees fleeing violence and adjusting to a new normal
- Teens in need of mentors during a parent's incarceration
- The very real existence of poverty in suburbia
The passion and sense of call exhibited by these guest speakers struck a chord with the community; on Sundays MOtalk was packed, the partner tables were crowded after every service, and 98 members signed up to engage with a new organization.
Here's a couple stories that came out of the Epiphany series.
Vicky joined Mount Olivet during our Fall 2016 new member class, and since then has been looking for a way to connect within the community. Our Epiphany series started with Northport Elementary staff sharing the needs of their culturally diverse student body; as a retired ESL teacher from Detroit Lakes, Vicky found her calling.
She signed up in the Welcome Center, attended a volunteer orientation at Northport, and was placed in a 3rd grade classroom - coming in every Friday to assist with reading and math. The teacher is so grateful for Vicky’s experience - she quickly understood the demands in the classroom, and was able to step right in and help the kids individually.
This newfound call during retirement has brought so much joy already. The class now recognizes her and looks forward to her help, and calm presence every Friday. And likewise, Vicky's face lights up when sharing stories about her time in class, the kids, and the relationships that are being created and nurtured.
During the "Light Reveals: Hunger" week, Bob was on hand representing two Connect Groups focused on hunger issues: Dinner At Your Door, and Loaves and Fishes. Both are long-standing small groups dependent on volunteers to make an impact.
Earlier in the year, there was concern over the continuation of either group without the engagement of new volunteers. But thanks to the Epiphany series, there was new energy and life; eight community members signed up to learn how they could help, and two showed up for the very next Loaves and Fishes food serving.
Bob shared his experience answering questions and meeting new people at the partner table,
"(I) learned that a lot of MO members care deeply about hunger and other areas of social concern... this was reflected not only in the sign-ups, but also in the attendance at MOTalk for the presentations by the various partners.
...I was impressed by how much the other “hunger” groups, Kid Pack at Northport and Second Harvest Heartland, are doing to address the heartbreaking issue of hunger in our community... It is good to know that we have this variety of ways to serve, and I’m glad that the partners got the exposure they need and deserve"