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Manaugh Loves the Presbyterian Church

Posted on March 13, 2013

 Manaugh Loves the Presbyterian Church

“In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have tone it unto me!” Thank you all  Matthew 25:40

Manaugh Loves the Presbyterian Church

It took place at the spring stated meeting of presbytery hosted by our Cortez Presbyterian Church.  You might not remember it, but I remember very well.  At nearly mid-afternoon on the first day of the meeting each of our three clusters broke out into small groups.  The northern cluster took advantage of our beautiful four-corners weather and met on the benches on the east side of our church building.  They were there at 3:00 when Manaugh Elementary School, right across the street south of our church, let out for the day.  To speak of dismissal time graphically, the school puked out students by the dozen and parents, also by the dozen picked up their precious cargo.

When the presbytery reconvened, our church was challenged, “What an opportunity you have.  What do you do for that school?”  I listed some of the ministries we have done over the years, such as our deacons’ “Soles for Souls” program of providing gym shoes for children who needed them.

For our congregation I answered question after question about our relationship with Manaugh Elementary.  It could only have been a few minutes, but it seemed like a very long question and answer period.  I was definitely feeling defensive.

I listed ministries and talked about our relationship with Manaugh over the years, I felt pretty good about our connection with the school.

At the same time we move on.  Wee Kirk conference, a whole summer of ministry, new challenges in the neighborhood, and General Assembly took my attention away from the presbytery meeting.  But, obviously, I haven’t forgotten that exchange.

In late summer, one of our many “natural deacons” Deb Kennedy told us that Manaugh was getting its third principal in five years, her good friend, Donita Dehart.  Deb also told us, “She wouldn’t mind our church adopting the school.”

That’s all we needed to hear.

Our Deacon moderator, Pat Robbins, and I visited with Donita.  Two things were painfully obvious.  There was almost no parent interest or participation in school activities.  Donita told us the first parent meeting had exactly two people show up, and they were related.  Second, the teachers and staff needed to know they are cherished.

So we set to it.

We invited anyone from the school to join our prayer breakfast each Wednesday morning at 6:30 a.m. at the church.  Donita and her secretary, Trina are now regulars.

For both the fall and spring parent / teacher conferences, our deacons and volunteers from the church have provided meals for the staff - more about this ministry below.

At Christmas we opened our doors and invited them to use our fellowship hall for their Holiday Party.  Our deacons made each person a small gift of a personal sized candle, with a rubber wrist band around it with a Christian saying, and a small piece of paper inserted into the top of the candle which read, “You are the light of the world” – Matthew 5:14

The next day, when I came to church, written on the white board we normally have our Sunday school memory verse and songs was written: “In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have tone it unto me!” Thank you all  Matthew 25:40

After the New Year, our Wednesday morning prayer breakfast group began another ministry.  Each Wednesday we stand on the street corner between the school and church and hand out free coffee, hot chocolate and orange juice to parents dropping off their kids.  It is wonderful and wild!  We usually pass out about 70 cups, mostly coffee.  Each cup has a sleeve that reads, “Wishing you a cup full of blessings today and everyday – Montezuma Valley Presbyterian Church.”

Some mornings have absolutely been frigid, after a half hour, we can barely feel our fingers, but our hearts are warmed by the ministry.  This week, Donita and the staff wrote on their sandwich board and placed it in front of the school and then the church: Manaugh Loves the Presbyterian Church.

Next week we plan to borrow the sign and turn things around: Presbyterian Church Loves Manaugh.

I just knew we made an impact one snowy cold morning when I was out shoveling snow, and I saw Donita trying to get my attention from across the street.  I pulled of my hat, stopped my CD player, removed my ear buds, and yelled, “What?”  She yelled over, “I said, ‘You missed a spot.’”  She laughed and laughed.  I knew she was comfortable and our church and her school were buddies.

We have also worked at becoming part of the school’s emergency plan.  We have given Donita a key to the church and invited them to just come in anytime they ever need to have an emergency evacuation.  They now know the church is a safe place and a welcoming place.

Let’s get back to the meals we provided for parent / teacher conferences. Let me share with you, part of my sermon the week after the spring conferences:

{{{How do we balance Jesus two seeming opposite teachings? “Go into your room in secret” and “Let your light shine.”

I believe the answer is that we are supposed to minister in Jesus name to help the recipients of the ministry.  AND to be examples of the service for God’s glory.  Here is the illustration that our church lived out this week.
As you know we have adopted the teachers and staff of Manaugh School this year.  Our goal is that in showing them the real-life love of Christ, we will buck them up, help with morale, and by improving things for the staff we help the kids and our community – all because of the love of Christ.

On Thursday at noon, we took over about 18 tons (no exaggeration) for the staff’s lunch and dinner during parent – teacher conferences.  Then on Friday morning, we took over about 16 tons more of breakfast foods.

As the group of us were bringing the food into the building, one elder went ahead of us playing a trumpet - dum, da, da, dum!  We yelled out, “Presbyterians here with food!  Presbyterians here with food!  Aren’t we great!  Aren’t we just special!  Look what we are doing for you poor – poor underpaid public servants!   Dum, da, da, dum!  The staff fell at our feet and there was much adulation and praise.

Of course, it didn’t happen that way.  The reality was so much different and so surprising.  As we came in with arms full, person after person came to us and thanked us.  One gal said, “You have such a great church.  You’re people are special.”  I felt kinda funny saying it, but I did say, “You’re right, we have a special group.”  Not trumpeting, but Matthew 5:16,  “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

I overheard one teacher telling another a story.  “I told a friend over at Kemper (an elementary school about a mile away) about the Presbyterian Church taking such good care of us.  She asked, ‘Could they adopt us to?’  I told, them, no! Get their own church!”  God is getting glory through town, not by your pastors’ flowing robes and complicated prayers, but through ministry.

You know how much I have been thinking about the word BLESSING since the New Year.  One male staff member said to me, unsolicited, “You are a blessing to us.”  By you, he didn’t mean your pastor, I was incognito – I had on jeans, t-shirt and ball cap (I looked no more like a pastor than Yogi Berra does).  He meant our congregation is showing the Love of Christ in real ways.

One staff member told Deacon Pat how good it was to have people eating together, and how much their morale has been boosted by our simple actions.  Pat simply said, “This is what it’s all about.”
We trumpet not ourselves.  We trumpet the Glory of our Father in Heaven.

“And they know we are Christian, by our love, by our love.  Yes, they’ll know we are Christian by our love.”}}}

In conclusion, I don’t know if we have gained anything measurable as a church.  We haven’t had any new members because of our “adopting Manaugh.”  Maybe it has boosted our morale some.  Maybe we feel a little better about ourselves.  Maybe we are just a little sinfully proud of these activities - most of all though, we trumpet the Glory of our Father in Heaven.  That truly is what it’s all about.

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