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Assembling health kits helps congregations see Christ in refugees

For years, members of the Women's Fellowship at Morris Federated Church have engaged in hands-on service projects to bring hope to people in need. In the fall of 2015, at the height of the refugee crisis in Europe, they decided to make health kits to be distributed to displaced people around the world.

"We just always want to help out and take care of wherever there's a need," said Women's Fellowship Chair Llea Anderson. "If we can provide something, we want to do that."

The Women's Fellowship at Morris Federated Church assembles
health kits.


After the women assembled 50 kits themselves, Rev. Lauren Snell, invited the whole church to get involved. So she put a basket in the narthex, and people were invited to donate either money or supplies for the kits.

"God calls us to be disciples and reach out to others in crisis and need," said Rev. Lauren Snell. "There is a huge need."

Health kits provide basic necessities to people who have been forced to leave their homes because of human conflict or natural disaster. Each kit includes a hand towel, a washcloth, a comb, a metal nail file or nail clippers, a bath soap, a toothbrush, adhesive bandages, and toothpaste (added in the country where the health kits will be distributed). The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) distributes the kits all over the world. 

The refugee crisis inspired Richfield United Methodist Church in Minneapolis to pack health kits after its Maundy Thursday worship service during Holy Week. The Social Justice Mission and Outreach Team coordinated the assembly, and people at the church provided donations of items and cash, which was used to purchase remaining items in bulk at Costco and other stores.

"Part of our mission statement is to see Christ in everyone," said Marcia Henningson, director of spiritual formation at Richfield UMC. "Just hearing about the Syrian refugees inspired us to find a way not only to pray for these people, but to do something hands-on. We are called as Christians to see Jesus in them."

      Items that go in a health kit.

White Bear Lake United Methodist Church is using the health kit assembly as an opportunity for fellowship and partnership with nearby congregations. The church invited other Minnesota United Methodists in its area to come to its building on May 21, 2016 to bring their health kit supplies, and join others in packing as many kits as possible.

"If we pack 200, terrific; if we pack 1,000, terrific" said Lori McBride, who organized the packing party and noted that all congregations are welcome. White Bear Lake UMC is also a drop-off location for kits from other churches "White Bear Lake UMC's vision is to provide bread for the hungers of life," said McBride. "The health kits are a form of bread. They're being delivered to people who are hungering for physical things they need to take care of themselves and will hopefully help them know that others care about them and they're not forgotten."

Christa Meland, director of communications for the MN Annual Conference

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the World Service Fund is the financial lifeline to a long list of Christian mission and ministry throughout the denomination. Through the Four Areas of Focus churches are engaging in ministry with the poor which encourages them to be in ministry with their communities in ways that are transformative.

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