Laity of Trumann UMC unleashing plans, seeing results

By Amy Forbus Editor At an April 9 meeting of Trumann United Methodist Church’s Vision Team and Leadership Table, the group looked at the needs of their surrounding community. Northeast District lay leader Charles Long and Center for Clergy and Laity Excellence in Leadership (CCLEL) associate director the Rev. Dr. Candace Barron guided the group in examining data from MissionInsite, the demographics resource available to all Arkansas churches through the CCLEL. A city worker tills an abandoned lot near Trumann UMC’s building in mid-April to help the church carry out its plan of beginning a community garden. With city support including site preparation and installation of a water line, the church has begun planting a community garden, and also has enough room for a pumpkin patch this fall. Neighbors in the surrounding area have already begun to engage with the church through the garden. COURTESY PHOTO Two of the issues they identified were food insecurity and the need to promote healthy habits, such as wise nutrition choices and physical activity. The lay persons present decided that a community garden could help answer two of the needs, and one person offered to ask the mayor if they could use some abandoned lots near the church for the garden. By the end of the next day, Trumann UMC had permission to use nearby lots. The city even offered to clear the land, removing tree trunks and tilling the soil to help the church get started, and has since installed water at the site. In the span of less than two weeks, the church gained access to enough land not only for a community garden, but also for a pumpkin patch. As the adults and youth from the church started planting the garden, people from the neighborhood came by and began to get involved, to the delight of the pastor, the Rev. Jeff Weaver. “I did not expect such an immediate response from the neighbors,” he said. “It’s been great to see.” On the healthy living front, the laity decided to open the church to a bi-weekly Zumba class, which started the week of April 13. Its first day drew 20 people, a number of whom might not have been comfortable with coming into a church building for worship. “I am pleased with how fast the laity moved when they got excited about these projects,” Barron said. “They are doing this all on their own.” She also noted that Trumann UMC reported a total of four professions of faith last year, and has already matched that number in the first four months of 2014. Step 7 of the Bishop’s Mission Plan: Unleash Lay Leadership For more information, visit