How We Serve

cropped-Reconciling-logo-2-1.jpgMissions & Justice

The Atascadero United Methodist Church is involved in missions both globally and locally. It is the job of the Missions & Justice Committee to bring various ministries to the attention of the congregation and to plan and bring about projects which help United Methodists do ministry in the community and world. This is an active committee which seeks to highlight a broad range of ministries so that each member of AUMC’s diverse membership may find ministries which are meaningful and helpful in their lives.  Areas of particular emphasis include Atascadero Loaves & Fishes, El Camino Homeless Organization, our missionary in Liberia, Project, Salvation Army Bell Ringing, UMCOR offerings, Care Bags, Get on the Bus and more.

The committee also tracks legislation in Congress and the State legislature to see if it reflects the Christian values of caring for those in need and promoting justice.

Ministry to Homeless People

ECHO, El Camino Homeless Organization, is a local nonprofit agency that works to provide food and shelter for people in need. Our church supports ECHO by hosting a yearly drive for overnight chaperone sign-ups, as well as supporting the agency by providing meals. One Friday of each month the ECHO dinner (serving 60-75 people) is hosted by people from AUMC. In 2012 the church began rotating this honor to different groups within the church; for example, the Thursday Evening Women’s Book Group and the Christian Formation committee both took Fridays and made, served, and cleaned up the dinner at the shelter. Additionally, as individuals, several church members serve at ECHO, on the board or through other personal commitments.

Area Food Bank

Atascadero United Methodist Church supports Atascadero Loaves & Fishes, a 100-percent volunteer nonprofit agency, which helps needy individuals and families five days a week. Loaves & Fishes is supported by the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County, but also purchases food from local stores and growers to distribute to the hungry. Loaves & Fishes is one of the ministries supported by the monthly Communion Alms offering, but donations may be made through the church at any time by designating “Atascadero Loaves & Fishes” on a check written to the church. Several AUMC members serve on the Loaves & Fishes Board and many more serve as volunteers at the pantry, and a food collection box is always ready to receive donations in the church lobby.

Bags for Child Protective Services

Care bags are filled and collected by the people of Atascadero United Methodist during the annual drive to help Child Protective Services. CPS gives the church lists of items each backpack should contain. Anyone can pick up one of these lists, fill a backpack and bring it to the church by the end of September to contribute to this worthy cause. Because the teenagers are so often the forgotten ones, in recent years the church has chosen to focus its efforts on this age group. Typical items are a hairbrush or comb, a toothbrush and paste, a T-shirt or nightgown, etc., a note of encouragement and many prayers. After the bags are collected, they are blessed during a Sunday morning worship service, and then delivered to CPS. CPS will use the bags when transitioning a teenager in placement. Often they must leave their homes without even the option of packing a pair of pj’s or a hairbrush.

Families of Prisoners

“Get on the Bus” is the name of a special day of helping children spend time with their incarcerated fathers, uncles or brothers. Around Father’s Day each year, AUMC is one of many churches who help to sponsor chartered buses that bring families to prisons to visit loved ones, who have each worked very hard to achieve this privilege. As a church, AUMC raises money to pay for the bus trip, a camera and teddy bear for each child, and a reception for the children after the visit. Volunteers from AUMC and other local churches act as hosts for the reception as well.

Prayer Shawl Ministry

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Members of the Prayer Shawl Ministry team rejoice to present a prayer shawl following the consecration of the prayer shawls in worship. The ministry is a fellowship of knitters and crocheters interested in sharing an experience in Spiritual Growth and the creation of caring gifts for those undergoing challenging life experiences. Meetings are held once a month on the fourth Thursday morning of each month. The group meets from 10 a.m. to noon in the Lombard Lounge. All are welcome and no experience is necessary. You are invited to come and find out a way to knit or crochet God’s love, care and warmth into shawls for those needing them.

Caring Connections

Caring Connections is a unique ministry that extends congregational care to the entire congregation. Partners go through training and are paired up with people in the congregation. It is up to the pairings what those relationships will look like. Some congregants desire regular visits, and some are just happy to know they are being prayed for specifically. Home-bound congregants and as well as busy young families; it is the prayer of Caring Connections that everyone who wants a Partner shall have one.

Groundskeeping

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Members of Atascadero United Methodist Church volunteer time, energy, skill, and tools in order to keep the church property safe and welcoming. Although this may seem like a small concern, AUMC is happy to present a colorful, clean, and friendly environment to all who enter the church grounds, whether for Sunday worship or for walking through on the way to a local park. Because all of the groundskeeping and almost all of the building maintenance is done by volunteers, more money in the church budget can be used for program ministries.

Rummage Sale

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Each May, Atascadero United Methodist Church is the location of a large rummage sale. Organized by the United Methodist Women’s group, all proceeds from the sale go to ministries and charities that aid women and children. The sale is equal parts hard work and great fun…and of course, the deals are hard to beat!

Sierra Service Project

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Atascadero United Methodist Church believes that people of all ages can know the joy and spiritual growth that comes through service to others. Sierra Service Project, or “SSP,” has for many years been the major annual service opportunity for the teenagers of the church.

SSP, an independent non-profit organization,welcomes youth groups from many different denominations into acts of service, repairing homes in Native American and urban communities throughout the western United States, and building homes in Honduras and Nicaragua. Campers spend their SSP week getting trained, working on job sites, and returning to the camp each night for group singing and Bible study. Campers also learn about their host tribe or community and spend one afternoon during the week in play.

Graduating fifth graders through graduating seventh graders attend the junior high SSP trip, graduating eighth graders through graduating 11th graders attend the senior high trip, and young adults who have graduated from high school attend the college trip. AUMC sends at least two adult chaperones to each junior and senior high trip.

If you would like to support AUMC youth in their participation in the Sierra Service Project, consider purchasing a share of the trip, which financially supports this ministry.

Sierra Service Project Invitation Video from Sierra Service Project on Vimeo.

Water Wells in Africa

In addition to acting locally, the people of Atascadero United Methodist Church are committed to acting to improve lives globally. Bringing healthy and safe drinking water to villages in Africa can decrease infant mortality, create child safety, and enable educational opportunities. In 2011-12, AUMC raised money to build one well in Africa, and the 2012-13 drive is well under way. This money is raised above and beyond the regular church budget, and the campaign is sponsored by AUMC’s Mission committee.

United Methodist Committee on Relief

One of the ways the local congregation of Atascadero United Methodist engages in mission on a broader scale is by partnering with UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Founded in 1940, the UMCOR is the global humanitarian aid organization of the United Methodist Church. UMCOR is working in more than 80 countries worldwide, including the United States. Their mission, grounded in the teachings of Jesus, is to alleviate human suffering,  whether caused by war, conflict or natural disaster, with open hearts and minds to all people. UMCOR responds to natural or civil disasters that are interruptions of such magnitude that they overwhelm a community’s ability to recover on its own. UMCOR works through programs that address hunger, poverty, sustainable agriculture, international and domestic emergencies, refugee and immigrant concerns, global health issues, and transitional development.

Because 100-percent of administrative costs of UMCOR are provided by the denomination, AUMC celebrates a special offering in March, which goes to UMCOR to offset those costs. Then, when a disaster happens, AUMC may extend the opportunity for congregants to give a special offering, which goes directly to the people in need. After tornadoes in the Mid-West and earthquakes in Pacific Islands, UMCOR is the hands and feet of healing when recovery begins.