On Oct. 8 and 9, Fircrest Presbyterian (1250 Emerson St.) and Redeemer Lutheran Church (1001 Princeton St.) joined together to share in a Compassion Weekend that included 12 different community service projects, three of which were local to the University Place community. The groups made cookies for the local fire and police departments, as well as the employees at the University Place library. At the same time, a group cleaned up litter around Emerson Street and Thelma Gilmur Park. The third local project involved donating more than 150 pounds of food and 30 pounds of produce from the local church garden to the Families Unlimited Network. Approximately 100 people participated in the event, which included a gathering of all for a worship service and dinner as a closing on Sunday evening.
This is the fourth year the churches have got together for a weekend of community service, and will be far from the last.
“The pastor at our church, when this started, was brothers-in-law with the pastor at Redeemer Lutheran. [Redeemer] had done one by themselves and then we decided we would try it together and we really enjoyed it; it allowed us to get together a bit and is a way to give back to a community, so we continued to do it together,” Fircrest Presbyterian organizer Sylvia Gentili said.
The food drive serves the Families Unlimited Network, a local food bank in U.P., and the drive predates the collaboration.
“We’ve been doing [the food drive] for a long time year round. There was an extra effort to collect food for this particular project; we’ve had a garden for the last couple of years so we also donated produce from that this year,” Gentili said.
The cookies project was an important one to take on for the group, and included cards from kids in the churches as a way to support the safety the firefighters and police bring, and the education the library employees bring.
“We just wanted to say thank you for all that they do in the community. We really want them to know that we value them,” Gentili said.
The process of cleaning up a road is new this year, but was successful with pounds of litter being picked up.
“New this year, we decided that we would clean the Emerson street area and down in the gully – sometimes a lot of trash gets in there, between Emerson Street and [Thelma Gilmur Park]. We collected about 10 pounds of litter,” Gentili said.
The project weekend is not only an opportunity to give back to the community, but a way for the two churches, located just a few blocks away, to bond with one another.
“It really is our philosophy that we want to be reaching out to the community, to be of service – serving the Lord by serving other people. It’s not only reaching out to the community, but also people in need. It’s really a partnership mission, and we’ve found that has really helped both churches do other things now, too,” Gentili said.