In The News
Story | Dinuba Mennonite Brethren Church
You’re Telling Us to WORK on Sunday?
Dinuba Mennonite Brethren Church offered a free carwash and picked up trash in local parks. While senior citizens from the church met to fill 300 bags with school supplies to be sent to Mennonite Relief organization that will in turn send them around the world. Others worked in a nearby food bank, painted over graffiti, painted rooms in a homeless shelter, or clean bathrooms at five local businesses...
The sign out front boldly blazoned, “The church has left the building...but we’ll be back next week..” In the town of Dinuba, California, population 20,000, this was big news.
“Some of our members said ‘We’ve been taught all our lives never to work on Sunday – and now you’re telling us to?’” admitted Jim Aiken, pastor of Dinuba Mennonite Brethren Church. “It was definitely a bold move for us, and God blessed it.
“For nearly two years, our church has been revising our vision, refocusing our mission. We were learning to think of our church not as a fortress, but as a bridge from God to our community, meeting needs,” Pastor Jim explained. “When I first heard about Faith in Action from an Outreach mailing, I knew this was for us.”
This church of 300 had 200 people show up to work on Faith in Action Day in October 2007, handling a grand total of no less than 20 work projects. One group offered a free carwash; another picked up trash in local parks. Senior citizens met at church to stuff 300 bags with school supplies to be sent to a Mennonite relief organization that will in turn send them around the world. Others worked in a nearby food bank.
“In almost every project, we had outsiders join in to help or donate supplies,” Pastor Jim said. When one group went to purchase paint to repaint rooms in a homeless shelter, the hardware store donated the paint. More paint was donated to the group who went through town, painting over graffiti. When the “bathroom brigade” cleaned public restrooms at five local businesses, Kmart provided all the cleaning supplies.
When one church member explained to his employees what he was doing on Sunday, many joined in and helped with various repair jobs at a senior citizens’ community. They even went back several days to finish additional work. Across town, neighbors joined in with groups doing yard work at the homes of other seniors or handicapped residents.
“Nearly three months later, I’m still hearing thanks from townspeople,” exclaimed Pastor Jim. “And just today, I was at a luncheon and a local newspaper reporter mentioned that they, too, are still getting feedback from various residents.”
Pastor Jim is making big plans for 2008. He’s already working with the local high school principal, asking, “If we brought in 200 people to work one May Sunday, can you find enough projects for us?” He’s also planning to approach the city council with the same question with a fall date in mind, and plans to invite other churches to join in.
“For us to tackle 20 different projects with a small church – God did that!” he added. “Our people learned that morning that the church is truly people reaching out to other people in a very concrete way. It’s not a building – WE are the church, the hands and feet of Christ.”
Dinuba Mennonite Brethren Church
Jim Aiken, Pastor