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By Wendy Neff, For Roane Newspapers
I came to Bethel Presbyterian Church as pastor nearly two years ago, in the middle of Lent.
The church was somewhat still in transition, having just had an interim pastor, and so Lenten practices were minimal.
Last year, we went back to previous practices of a special Lenten Bible study and Save Our Saturday mission events.
These SOS events began long ago at Bethel when a youth of the church was reflecting on what was the most difficult thing to give up for Lent. She surmised that since time was the most difficult, that is what the church should encourage its folks to do — give of their time on Saturday mornings during Lent.
For years that is just what happened at Bethel — a variety of mission events were planned, and church members of all ages gave up their Saturdays to help others in the community during Lent.
This year we had three SOS events: painting at two Michael Dunn group homes, cleaning up the riverbank at John Knox Center and preparing a meal for the Love Kitchen at Harriman First Presbyterian Church.
Again we asked folks to give up their time on Saturdays to help others, and a great number of children, youth and adults painted, cleared brush from the river bank and served dinner together.
We have learned this Lent that doing weekly mission projects together as a church has a profound effect on faith formation for children and adults. Jesus calls us to love and serve one another in His name. Our Lenten SOS mission events enable us to live our faith because we have the opportunity to do what we say we believe and make a positive difference in our community.
Plans are already in place to do even more SOS events during Lent next year, and we may begin to do them throughout the year.
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Wendy Neff is pastor of Bethel Presbyterian Church, Kingston.