By Dewayne Mayo, pastor of Lone Star UMC
Lone Star UMC near Collins, Mississippi is experiencing growth
More than a dozen children gathered at Lone Star UMC during the Christmas holiday.
in church attendance. As Lone Star UMC's pastor, Dewayne Mayo writes, members reaching out to children in the community are making the difference.
The first day Mike Hicks called and told me he had appointed me to pastor in the United Methodist Church was an exciting day for me and my wife. We both took off work early that day and drove to see the churches. As we pulled into the parking lot of the Lone Star UMC on Highway 84, between Collins and Prentiss, we noticed a 12 passenger van behind the small church building. I would soon find out how valuable this little 12 passenger van was to Lone Star.
I understand that this van had recently been purchased by a man in the church and a few months before (beginning in September of 2012) had been used to bring children to church. Skarlett Boleware would go out into the community on Wednesday evenings and pick up children, bring them to church, teach them about Jesus, then take them back home. Most of these children's parents were not going to church anywhere. They come from many different backgrounds.
Bolware now drives the van not only on Wednesday evenings to pick up children, but also on Sunday mornings and evenings. She sometimes makes two trips to pick up all the children. Her staff has grown from just her and one young man named Richard, to a strong staff of six who are there almost every Wednesday, with many more volunteers responding during special events. The total number of volunteers which consists of parents and church members, has reached into the dozens on occasion as this ministry continues to blossom. The entire church has become involved in these children's lives.
The members of the congregation agree that Lone Star had never averaged over 30, even on Sunday mornings. They now are averaging and have averaged over 30 for the Sunday morning service for the last eight months. We are now averaging close to 40 on Sunday evenings and between 45 and 55 on Wednesday evenings. The kids have brought a contagious excitement to Lone Star that is positively affecting the entire church and community.
On the night of Wednesday, December 18, 2013 the children put on a Christmas program for the church, community and their families. The kids sang loud and we were all so very proud of them. The 94 in attendance broke the recent record of 93 that we had during our Fall Festival. The fellowship hall could not hold all the people who stayed for refreshments afterwards.
Lone Star UMC is growing in many ways and it is because of strong commitment, determination and love. Lone Star United Methodist Church is an example of several United Methodist churches in Mississippi that are finding ways to grow their church and reach out into their community in very successful ways.
This growth hasn't been easy; it has come with a price. The church is noisy now, we have more stains on the carpet, more interruptions during services and we would not change it for anything. Lone StarUMC loves these children! We are watching them grow in Christ, some grow towards Christ and develop respect for the church. One of the most beautiful sights is seeing some of these young people sitting by the older adults during services. I watch the children sitting very close to the adults and the adults put their arms around them. I constantly see children come off the van and run to hug the older adults. The adults love these children and the children love being loved.