Cooper: Being the hands and feet of Jesus

Cooper: Being the hands and feet of Jesus

April 27th, 2013 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment

One of the messages Barbara Hartman took away from her Walk to Emmaus Christian renewal and formation weekend last year was a directive to be the "hands and feet of Jesus."

Acting on that felt directive and remembering a project at her previous church in San Diego, she approached her pastor at Jones Memorial United Methodist Church.

Like a good pastor should, the Rev. Larry J. Dial acknowledged its worthiness, suggested she get it organized and gave her an initial contact.

On Sunday, May 5, the Pass It On campaign will go live, with more than 70 people attending an abbreviated service, then staying in the building or leaving it to participate in service projects across East Ridge.

"What I really hope," says Hartman, co-team leader for the campaign with Jones Memorial children's director Ashley Wade, "is that people do something they can be passionate about" and continue it after the initial day.

They'll have nine different projects from which to choose, all but one on that Sunday.

To assist their town, they can paint concession stands at East Ridge High School, fill weekend lunch bags for hungry children at Spring Creek Elementary School or make improvements to raise awareness for the East Ridge Animal Shelter.

Further, they can make tray favors, visit and play games with residents or do some yard work at Life Care of East Ridge, and do some minor yard work or make minor repairs at Stella's House, a Partnership for Families, Children and Adults safe house.

In the wider community, they can prepare and serve meals at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen or make bears for hospitalized children, the latter taking place on May 22.

In gestures that will make a difference across the world, they can create mosquitoes out of pipe cleaners for the United Methodist Church's Imagine No Malaria campaign or put together food buckets for Zimbabwe in another denominational project.

Hartman says the number of volunteers "is still growing" but insists she doesn't have a goal.

"What I've decided about goals," she says, "is that when we make the goals, we have limited God. When we speak to him, more people surface that way."

Visitors are welcome to join the fun, Hartman says. If they do, they may feel more at home working on one of the projects at the church, she says.

"We're not going to turn anybody away," she says.

Breakfast is at 8 a.m., a worship/commissioning service is at 9 a.m. and the departure for service is at 9:45 a.m.

Hartman says church members, even more than a week before the campaign, are "excited."

"My hope is it's not a one-time thing," she says. "If we'd fallen on our face," it might have been. "But people are already talking about next year."

So if you drive through East Ridge next Sunday and see groups working around the town in gray T-shirts with wordle hearts on their fronts, that'll be the Jones gang. Better yet, join them.

"We just want people to know there are people who care about them," Hartman says.

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at ccooper@times freepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to my posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.