Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
The United Methodist Church in Wapello and Washington are recruiting volunteers and fundraising for a mission trip to Mayfield, Kentucky, where a tornado in December upended much of the town.
Wapello Pastor Tim Johnson said the city needed all the help it could get.
“Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mayfield was hit by a huge tornado that basically wiped out a chunk of the town,” he said. “It looked like a bomb went off in the whole town, so the church was interested in doing a mission trip.”
The trip will be the first one organized by United Methodist in over 5 years.
“It took a lot of work to get the ball rolling again, that’s for sure,” Johnson said. “There’s lots of enthusiasm to get this mission trip going, but (we) had to find people, I had to do a lot of recruiting.”
The churches are still recruiting and fundraising for the non-denominational trip, which will take to Kentucky from July 9-16.
"Anybody is welcome to go, they just need to contact me before May 31,“ he said. ”It’s not just restricted to United Methodist, anybody in the Washington area or anybody that reads the article can contact me and we can get them set up to go with us.“
Once there, the group will do hands-on work in construction, cleanup, and what Johnson called “relational ministry.”
“That might be helping out at vacation Bible school, that might be working at a food pantry, that might be passing out bottles of water or just praying with people,” he said. “Anybody who volunteers should understand that it’s a faith-based, Christian-based mission trip. We are going to pray with people, there may be a lot of religious conversations. If somebody is looking to just tag along and not participate, that’s their decision, but they have to be aware.”
Johnson said volunteers were already eager.
“We’re very excited to go, everybody that signed up is,” he said. “To be able to help somebody here … in our own backyard, somebody that we can pretty much call our neighbor, it just brings a sense of joy and warmth to my heart to be able to help others like that.”
The church’s first fundraiser is set for May 19, when the church plans to hold a spaghetti dinner in Washington from 5-7 p.m. with free will donations. The church also plans to set up a farmers market booth in June and hold an ice cream social before leaving.
Johnson said he was proud to be involved.
“Part of being a Christian is helping give back and caring for people, loving people,” he said. “What happened in Mayfield was absolutely devastating, and to be able to help others to overcome that and let them know that they’re cared for and loved, that’s just part of what Jesus tells us to do.”