Legacy of Service

By March 25, 2019

Read this story and more in CONNECT Magazine | 2019 Lent Edition

CONNECT Magazine is your source for the stories of our FUMCFW Faith Community — and how each fits in with our Healthy Plate Discipleship. Pick up your copy in the Main Office and Welcome Center or read it online.
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Did you know that . . . United Community Centers was started by the United Methodist Women (UMW) during the depression? That what is now the First Street Methodist Mission started out of the back of Sandy Smith’s station wagon? (Sandy was the very first director of the First Street Methodist Mission)That as a church we continued to build upon this budding legacy of service by offering a mobile food bank for the local housing projects, then a closet in Epworth Hall (now the Justin Youth Building), that became our clothing bank? That from there we added an Infant Formula program to feed Fort Worth’s hungry babies, began offering Back-to-School clothing so all children have a new first-day-of-school outfit? That our legacy of service to our local community has extended for decades of Thanksgiving Baskets, special designated Sundays for collecting everything from peanut butter to teddy bears to diapers, coats, socks, and underwear?

Serving those in need is who we are. This is Us. And this legacy that began in the ‘30s has grown, developed, modeled, and inspired generations of our congregation — and even reached deeply into our community to touch hearts, encourage hands, and raise voices to the needs of others right here in our everyday midst.

Consider the lasting impact of that day in June of 1997 when Jeff Guinn, Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter, placed a call to First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth (FUMCFW). Guinn, who had recently spent two weeks on the streets of Fort Worth disguised as a homeless man, had recorded details of his experience for a lengthy article in the Sunday Star-Telegram. The response was overwhelming and Jeff knew where efforts to address this situation needed to begin. Because of his experience of Sandy Smith and the volunteers at our First Street Methodist Mission, Jeff called FUMCFW and was connected to Rev. Linda McDermott on the first day of her new appointment as Minister of Outreach and Mission.

“This opportunity came on the heels of a difficult time for our church,” Linda remembers, “a time when we had lost our sense of identity. This church had such a long legacy of serving those in need in our community — and this spotlight on an urgent need was just what we needed to regain our sense of who we are.” Rev. McDermott and leaders of three community service agencies formed a leadership team that worked with city leaders, civic organizations, and local community leaders.

After countless hours of work with city government, community leaders, other service organizations, and a tremendous amount of involvement from FUMCFW members (including a remarkably successful fundraising campaign to provide seed money and thousands of hours hands on service), the Day Resource Center for the Homeless opened its doors. This beacon of compassion in our community still provides homeless men, women, and children needed services such as laundry facilities, showers, haircuts, and a place to make phone calls and receive mail. By leading and supporting this ongoing presence in our community, FUMCFW has modeled and inspired continued efforts to better understand and meet these needs.

Meanwhile, back on the home campus of FUMCFW, our First Street Methodist Mission continued to grow in size and services, expanding dramatically to house all the functions it still offers today. In addition to on-campus services, our FUMCFW legacy of service expanded to include Habitat for Humanity, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) disaster relief, Kids Hope USA Mentoring, Cowtown Back-to-School, Food 4 Kids, Ronald McDonald House, Cowtown Brush Up, and the addition of a full-time Community Advocate to assist people who are homeless in finding the services and opportunities they need.

On a parallel track of service that reaches beyond our walls and our geographic location, FUMCFW fields adult mission trips to provide long-term educational opportunities for orphans in Kenya and assist a small village in Costa Rica with construction projects needed for worship, health care facilities, and school. Then, to convey this commitment to serve others to our youth, the FUMCFW faith community funds and supports
Youth mission trips across the state and nation to offer life and view-changing hands-on opportunities to our youth from disaster relief and clean up, to assisting with home repairs in impoverished areas, to serving as respite care staff for parents of challenged children and teens at Camp Barnabas in Purdy, Missouri.

What does this legacy of service mean to the members, visitors and guests of First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth? It speaks as nothing else to who we are, how we roll, and what our priority is as we continually seek to Love God, Serve People, and Transform Lives.


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