Ingathering brings together Arkansas UMs for generous service

On the Saturday morning before Thanksgiving 2013, more than 100 United Methodists from all corners of the state converged on the Arkansas Rice Depot in Little Rock to deliver items of help, hope and food, for Arkansans and for many thousands of people around the world.

“As the rain fell on Thursday and Friday and the weather predictions were gloomy, my prayer was for the rain to cease and volunteers to show up,” said Brenda Norwood, coordinator of the event. “My prayers were answered in tenfold.”

The clouds held back their rain as caring United Methodists, some whom drove for more than two hours, came with their relief supply items and servant hearts and hands. They sorted donations for disaster victims and families in crisis, delivered school kits and packed potatoes for the hungry in Arkansas.

Even in the cold, all felt the warmth of music provided by the Rev. Greg Schick, contemporary worship pastor at St. James UMC Little Rock. Bishop Gary Mueller offered words of inspiration to remind attendees of their reason for gathering there. He spoke of Jesus’ words from Matthew 5:13-16: “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world.” 

“You are being salt and you are being light for God in a world that needs your saltiness and needs your light more than ever,” he told the crowd.

Rice Depot staff arranged to move much of the work indoors, and the added warmth of the warehouse proved helpful for those working to load relief supplies for shipment to the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s Sager-Brown Depot in Baldwin, La. 

“The staff [of the Rice Depot] was amazing, and I truly appreciate their efforts to make Ingathering a successful event,” Norwood said. She added that she always finds it inspiring to see so many individuals and churches come together for Ingathering.

“I’m so proud to be a part of the people known as United Methodists of Arkansas who generously respond to the hurts and needs of people everywhere,” she said. “To God I give all the glory and praise.”