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Spiritual gifts in action: Part 2

From scouts and veterans to beekeepers and those who sew, United Methodists share their gifts in their communities. Canva photo collage by Crystal Caviness, United Methodist Communications.
From scouts and veterans to beekeepers and those who sew, United Methodists share their gifts in their communities. Canva photo collage by Crystal Caviness, United Methodist Communications.

The gift of leadership

A lay- and veteran-led leadership team from five United Methodist churches in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area recently came together to organize and host a Veterans Benefits Symposium.

“Each of us came to the table with different gifts and talents and we all said, ‘What do you need?’,” said Dian Shackelford, an army nurse and member at First UMC. “It was the quintessential military exercise."

The power of connectionalism made the event possible. Each of the five congregations identified veterans in their churches and invited them to the dinner event, held at Cokesbury UMC. The 113 veterans and family members in attendance were informed about and connected to the myriad of health, disability, pension, funeral, education and other benefits available to military personnel.

Local Boy Scout troops 46 and 47 also offered their support by presenting the colors, leading the Pledge of Allegiance, directing guests to their seats and serving dinner.

“If we could only focus on moving forward on what we’re doing for the Kingdom, this should be something we all can get behind: Celebrating and thanking the people who have served our country,” said The Rev. Troy Forrester of First UMC.

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The gift of sewing

Spirit-filled sewing is what occurs when members at La Trinidad United Methodist Church meet to piece and stitch items for premature babies at University Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. From expert to beginners, the group has met monthly for several years to create quilts and other items that are donated to families whose babies are in the NICU. [During the pandemic, the group made and donated masks.]

“Sewing in this group is such a wonderful expression of a spiritual gift! To pray over the babies that will (receive) these blankets fills my soul,” says Valerie Chapa. “What a treasure it is to try and provide some ‘normalcy’ in this often unknown world of the neonatal intensive care unit. My heart goes out to these families.”  

Though the items are relatively simple to produce, the purpose of the ministry is enriched by its mission.

“(Sewing) becomes much more when that gift is shared to make someone else’s life a little better,” James Kee explains.

Valerie Mendoza, a longtime member of the group, says the ministry has multiple benefits.

“Sewing for me is about mentoring/teaching others new skills, while continuing to hone my own skills as well as creating a beautiful item that will hopefully bring peace and comfort to those who are experiencing a difficult time.”

Learn more about spiritual gifts

“There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries and the same Lord; and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good.” – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

The gift of teaching

“I love teaching,” says Kristin Bell, a United Methodist in Utah. What Bell teaches is beekeeping.

Bell, a member of First United Methodist Church of Ogden, helped found the church’s beekeeping ministry in 2013.

Elementary school students and local residents are among those who benefit from Bell’s gift of teaching.

“What I’m doing is not for my glory, but for God’s glory so that we can all move forward to a better place,” says Bell. “We are really intentional that we go beyond the church walls into the community to educate others and invite them in.”

And while Bell is busy teaching others about bees, she has found that she often is the student.

“The bees are always teaching us something,” Bell explains. “They are a community too and every creature in the beehive is working for the success of that colony. I think God is telling us that we are to be doing the same thing.”

Since the ministry began, it has expanded to include a community garden and an online store where honey products can be purchased, with proceeds supporting a missionary in Africa who also raises bees.

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Read about other United Methodists who share their spiritual gifts throughout their communities in part 1 of this series.

Laura Buchanan works for at United Methodist Communications. Contact her by email. Crystal Caviness works for at United Methodist Communications. Contact her by email.

This story was published on May 18, 2023.

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