Vessel Community Church recently held its “Souper Sunday” drive which resulted in helping more than 50 families through the HelpLine emergency pantry in Morrow County. Led by Pastor Galen McLeod, the church dubbed as sanctuary and collection site where members donated canned soups and other winter items including hats, gloves and scarves – helping many in need brave the sub-zero temperatures that have hit Ohio this winter.
Drives of this kind aren’t new to the church, as their outward-focused approach of worship, discipleship and outreach puts people in need at the center of its ministry. It’s this emphasis on helping others that paved the way for a partnership with HelpLine that has continued over the past four years.
“The heart of the Vessel Church is to be involved in the community and serve local needs,” said Jacki Fatka, Children’s Ministry Director at Vessel Community Church. “HelpLine offers a great opportunity to share God’s love with those who need it.”
Alyson Lanning, Lead Hotline Specialist at HelpLine, said that the church makes up to three donation drops each year as part of an ongoing effort to support the HelpLine emergency assistance pantry. These drops include materials for infant and toddlers, birthday boxes for children and personal hygiene needs such as toilet paper, shampoo and laundry detergent – all items available in the Morrow County pantry during the winter, holidays and after-hours when other agencies may be closed. Other outreach efforts for the church include making meals for hurricane relief, holding a baby shower for Heartbeat of Morrow County and helping with events at local nursing homes.
“Pastor McLeod is an incredibly kind man with great energy and humor that helps him connect to each community member he meets,” said Lanning. “Jacqui is equally compassionate and places a great emphasis on outreach and how best to make it effective.”
Effective outreach at Vessel Church often means fusing faith and fun. The “Souper Sunday” theme encouraged church members to join in on the fun. Church members discussed how the theme helped remind them to donate and simplify what the needs were for HelpLine. Fatka shared that some members even made a quick pit stop at the grocery store before church to ensure they were able to participate.
In past food drives, McLeod shared that they included a competitive element hoping to encourage generosity. Based on a ranking system, those who donated higher-priority foods received more points. Over the summer months a focus was made on donating kid-friendly foods to help those families whose children weren’t able to access school lunches. The Sunday School class with the most points at the end of the donation period won donuts, bragging rights and the satisfaction of knowing their giving helped make the difference for a child or family.
It’s this meaningful focus on serving others that Lanning believes will keep the partnership going for many years to come.
“This church gets it,” said Lanning. “Not only are they meeting spiritual needs, but also the practical needs of the community which is what it’s all about – spreading love in real, visible ways.”
The Vessel Community Church meets Sundays at 10 a.m. at 5301 US 42 North in Mt. Gilead, Ohio. Learn more by visiting http://www.vesselcommunitychurch.org/