For churches in many denominations, Good Friday services are often the most dramatic, the most meaningful – and the least-attended.
So for their first “Doing Good Friday,” parishioners at Winfield Grace UMC spent March 30 making improvements to their church, neighborhood and city.
“We all know those midweek services are not exactly thriving,” said the Rev. Lora Andrews, in her fourth year as the church’s pastor. “We were trying to decide how to go a different way to go about it.”
About 60 church members – about triple the attendance for last year’s Good Friday services, Andrews said – fanned out throughout the south central Kansas community. Some cleaned yards, some delivered the cookie supply for the rest of the year to the elementary school the church sponsors. Some cleaned along the trail by Southwestern College, Grace UMC’s neighbor.
Others stayed at the church, painting the front steps or cleaning up in the Sensory Garden on the church grounds.
Many Southwestern students were among the volunteers, with generations working together on projects.
“This is a reflection of the local church, so to do that is always our goal,” Andrews said. “Any time we can bring SC in, it’s important.”
One of those Southwestern students was Rebeca Dominguez, a freshman who worked in the Sensory Garden.
“It’s a good opportunity to serve and do something for the community,” said Dominguez, a graduate of Lydia Patterson Institute in El Paso, Texas.
“Sometimes as a student you only focus on your grades, your assignments, your friends. This seems like a really good experience.”
The college students were among those working with different generations, including Lynne Hunter, who said the six-year-old Sensory Garden – built on the site of a former parsonage and including nature-based play area for preschoolers – got some much-needed upkeep.
“This is wonderful,” Hunter said. “I love the concept of ‘Doing Good Friday,’ and I’m really thankful for these college students. They’ve been great.”
Andrews said “Doing Good Friday” would likely be continued for a second year, given the growing enthusiasm about the project.
“It gives us a chance to focus on Christ and his invitation for us to serve others,” she said. “That’s the gift of the local church.”
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