Sunday, Natalie Mills and her family showed up in their churchgoing best, ready for morning service at 519 Church in Apex, but no one was there, except the pastor, who pointed her in the direction of the day’s event – “Faith in Action” Sunday.
One Sunday every couple of years, the four faith communities of the Apex United Methodist Church family meet for a different type of service – as they say, “being the hands and feet of Jesus” around their community.
More than 1,500 members from four campuses – Apex UMC, Peak UMC, 519, and Fiesta Christiana – joined together to serve the local and global community with about 50 different projects throughout the weekend.
In a community garden tucked off of South Hughes Street, Apex UMC members Daniel Stephenson and his daughter Scarlett Stephenson, 5, planted seedlings of bok choy, a Chinese cabbage.
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Apex UMC members run the garden, and on this particular Sunday, about 40 families covered the hillside to plant blueberries, a pollinator garden and various vegetables.
In addition to nourishing gardeners, some of the harvest feeds the hungry at Western Wake Crisis Ministries.
“The church is not limited to the building, but to serving the community without being on the church campus,” Daniel Stephenson said, describing the weekend’s events.
From Wake to Haiti
Some events, like the 5K to support Haiti and a walk for melanoma research, raised funds.
Others, like the middle schoolers’ effort to support orphans in Africa, or the hundreds that showed up to Stop Hunger Now by packing bags of food that will be shipped abroad, served their global neighbors.
Ten people built a wheelchair ramp for a disabled Holly Springs resident, while nearly 100 workers of all ages assembling hygiene kits for homeless veterans in efforts that served the surrounding community.
Several dozen church members landscaped gardens and painted tool sheds on the Apex church campus itself.
“I’ve been in ministry 14 years and never seen a body of people so giving,” said Desirée Bland, children’s minister on the Apex UMC campus. “We’re giving these things without expecting anything back.”
Fiesta Christiana and 519 Church spend their fifth Sundays of the month serving the community in place of the morning worship service.
Much of the church budget goes toward the projects. Supplies for the Stop Hunger Now project alone cost the church $10,000.
Gray Southern, lead pastor over all four faith communities, says that this weekend is a demonstration of the character of their church.
The woman who received the wheelchair ramp in Holly Springs said the day was “like meeting God,” Southern said.
“The cool thing for us is that this is one of the times the four communities are one community together in action,” he said. “It’s good for us. It helps us become better people.”