With coffee mugs from home in hand and talking energetically to other folks as they arrived, a long line of Candlewood members streamed into the small entryway of the Open Door Mission’s Timber Lake Outreach Center on a cold Sunday morning.
One might wonder, why weren’t these forty-plus people in church on February 15th?
Since its inception almost twenty years ago, Candlewood has always intentionally rented a meeting location in the Omaha area. With a rented location comes the added opportunities each week for every member to serve and take ownership of the church. It also reminds everyone clearly each week that the church is the people and not the building.
But renting does have its slight downsides, such as when the building owner needs to use their space on a Sunday morning. And February 15th was one of those weeks. When moving into Westside High School last spring, Candlewood knew there would be two weeks in the year which would be unavailable as a meeting space on a Sunday morning.
Instead of cancelling church, Candlewood members got creative. Wanting to make good use of a Sunday morning instead of sitting at home, a crowd of eager workers showed up at the Open Door Mission to help with the work to assist displaced or homeless individuals and others living in poverty who regularly look to the Open Door for help.
On arrival that cold morning, the crew set to work right away and worked hard all morning. Part of the team organized clothing donations, others rearranged backroom stores and identified furniture donations to offer to the families who came to the Outreach Center looking for help in setting up their homes. A separate team worked in the Food Pantry boxing up nonperishable foods to be handed out to families living in poverty. Even the Candlewood kids were able to use their shorter statures to help as they worked side by side with their parents in organizing the lower shelves of the bread and food isles and helping set up the toy section with fresh new toys and games.
Though there was none of the normal singing or teaching that is involved with most church services, this morning became for many people, a great opportunity to live out one of the components of the Candlewood mission statement: to genuinely care of the needs of our community.