Celebrating 100 years of blessing and goodness
By Michelle Welch, Heritage Bible Church, and Emily Stednick, West Coast MCC Communications
The Heritage Bible Church family in Bakersfield, Calif., is celebrating its centennial year. To commemorate God’s goodness and blessing, every month from September of 2009 to September of 2010 they are focusing on a different aspect of their ministry over the past 100 years. In March they chose to focus on their involvement with Mennonite Central Committee by hosting a service project in which the entire church could take part.
Centennial Committee members Jerry and Connie Koop spearheaded this event. Dubbed “Bucket Sunday,” the project was staged on a Sunday morning in the church social hall. It followed weeks of collecting the necessary items identified by MCC for building relief kits. The buckets were packed during a break period between the first and second worship services Sunday morning, March 14. All the church family was able to participate, from youth to elderly folks, as workers formed a “bucket brigade”: a long row of tables on which the buckets were pushed along, workers adding each item in sequence. The buckets were loaded up after the second worship service and taken to the MCC warehouse in Reedley, Calif. April 5, they were shipped to Haiti.
“Hands-on involvement in ministry always has a greater impact on people than simply giving dollars,” says senior pastor Dave Froese. “It was so inspiring to watch the effect on the hearts of the people when they delivered towels and toothpaste and soap, and then packed the buckets, knowing they were going to go to someone in desperate need.”
Relief Kits provide essential first aid, hygienic, and medical supplies to families traumatized by war and other disasters. MCC made a special request for 20,000 kits to be sent to Haiti to aid recovery efforts of the January 12, 2010 earthquake that devastated the nation. According to West Coast MCC Resource Development Director Michael Chapman, “Relief kits are a tangible way that MCC meets peoples’ needs around the world in the Name of Christ. Joining with Heritage in making 100 buckets was such a blessing, watching everyone, young and old, rally around this cause of providing relief to disaster victims was proof that the Church is active in helping redeem the brokenness of the world.”
On “Bucket Sunday,” West Coast MCC Executive Director Sheri Wiedenhoefer spoke in the services about involvement of Mennonite Brethren churches in the formation and leadership of MCC throughout its history. Heritage Bible Church specifically traces its MCC history back to the integral role it played in the formation of the modern relief sale movement. Without strong supporting churches like Heritage, the relief sales would not be such a success, and therefore MCC would not be able to do the ongoing work it does around the world.
Students from the church pack buckets of supplies to send to Haiti Earthquake survivors.