The Bible is pretty clear when it comes to the duty of Christians to help those who need our help.
From the Old Testament prophets through Jesus himself, we are called on to give of our time and our talents and our treasure to those who have so much less than us.
At Good Shepherd, we take service to the least of these our neighbors seriously. We trace our beginnings to the Oxford Movement, which had as one of its priorities Christian service – being The Hands of Christ – and today we maintain a vibrant mission ministry.
Every June, we send youth and adults into the Appalachians for a week of physical and spiritual mission work. Throughout the year, we conduct food drives and fund drives for local, national and international ministries. And we periodically participate in special days of service.
But Jesus’ demand that we tend to the spiritual and corporal needs of our neighbors isn’t limited to our work as a community of Christ. He calls on all of us as individuals to serve the least of these. And Good Shepherd is blessed to be the spiritual home to an abundance of Christians who gladly serve as The Hands of Christ to the world.
On this page, you will find snapshots of some of those people. Keep checking back, because this is a new effort that we’ll be updating monthly.
You’ll also find a list of local ministries that are in need of volunteers, We’ve started with the ministries we have a long relationship with, but there are countless others that are doing God’s work in our community, and could do it better with your help. If you’d like help in selecting a ministry to work with, please contact Deacon Fred Walters.
Finally, if you know people in our parish who serve as The Hands of Christ, we would ask you to let us know, so we can celebrate their ministries. Just email their names, what they do to serve as Christ’s Hands and any other information you think we need to know to Cindi Scoppe at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hands of Christ to Hannah House
St. Bridget’s Guild has always been a combination social and service organization, with members getting together regularly for lunch and tours of local attractions and collecting donations for worthy organizations. But under the leadership of Barbara Suszek, St. Bridget’s has sharpened its service focus and become the Hands of Christ to Hannah House.
The Columbia ministry, which has its headquarters just a few blocks from our parish, provides transitional shelter and basic necessities to women, with or without children, who are seeking independence and self-sufficiency.
"Prior to Hannah House we were supporting Children's Garden," Barbara explained. "This is also a wonderful organization, however they ended up with so many supporters, we felt superfluous." So she invited Hannah House’s director to make a presentation to the guild, and it was an easy decision to start helping there.
Although Hannah House is a project of the entire guild, guild members say Barbara’s passion is what has made the partnership so strong.
When the guild needs additional donations, Barbara won’t hesitate to corner a parishioner and ask for help. She also won’t hesitate to load up her car when someone brings in clothes or household goods to donate, and run them over to the shelter. At a minimum, she drops off donations once a month.
The guild keeps Hannah House in a steady supply of 33-gallon trash bags and aluminum foil (and you don’t have to be a guild member to donate; bring them to the parish hall any time, and they’ll get to the right place), and also provides special needs at special times.
That means school supplies in late summer and of course Christmas gifts, personalized for each woman and child at the shelter. When Barbara asked what the women wanted most for Christmas, they told her laundry detergent. The first year, she got the whole parish involved, and was able to collect 57 giant containers.
Barbara and the guild provide a great example of how even those of us who aren’t comfortable taking on service projects on our own can still serve as the Hands of Christ in our community.
The Hands of Christ in our schools
To us, Betty Prudence is a faithful member of the Daughters of the King and the Altar Guild and, of course, our parish secretary. But to children in Richland District 1 who can use a little extra help, she’s a mentor and friend. She’s the sweet lady who comes to their school for an hour every Thursday and reads with them. She is, to them, The Hands of Christ.
Betty first started reading with children five years ago at Bradley Elementary School. She later switched to Reading Matters, which the SC Bishops’ Public Education Initiative began in 2015. This year she is reading with two first-graders at Greenview Elementary School in Lower Richland.
Betty feels not only that her efforts enhance the children’s education, but that having one-on-one conversation time with an adult is very important for all children. Most children don’t get enough of this. Betty figured that since she had the time, she should share it with the children.
Reading with children was a natural for Betty, who was the principal at Meadowfield, W.S. Sandel and Piney Grove elementary schools in Richland 1 before retiring in 2008.
"I gain so much by continuing to help out in my small way,” she said. "I stay connected to my profession, and seeing students grow and develop as learners is satisfying."
Betty says that people who would like to do God’s work in our community but aren’t sure how to get started should follow their interests, their skills and their comfort zone, as there are countless ways to be of service: Just look for a need that you have the talent to meet, she says, whether it’s sitting and talking with a senior or volunteering with Meals on Wheels to deliver meals to participants. "There is some place for everyone," she says.
Betty and her late husband, Richard, started attending Good Shepherd in 1987. Before Good Shepherd they had attended St. Martin’s in-the- Fields Episcopal Church, where they first met the newly ordained Fr Lyon (who was the curate) and Sallie. Richard also met Dean Carmine, who invited them to come to Good Shepherd. They both loved the liturgy here at Good Shepherd and became members, and were happy to welcome Fr Lyon and Sallie back to Columbia in 1991.
You can find more information on Reading Matters at http://bishopseducation.com/getting-plugged- in/. Learn more about other ways to serve as The Hands of Christ at http://www.goodshepherdcolumbia.org/outreach-ministries
The Hands of Christ in Appalachia
Several adults and young people from Good Shepherd serve as The Hands of Christ in an extraordinary way every June: They donate a full week of their year to repairing homes and hearts of the needy in Appalachia.
They fix roofs and floors and build wheelchair ramps and paint and slay overgrown yards, and do whatever physical work is needed for the elderly homeowners they serve. And they sit and listen to those homeowners’ stories, and laugh with them and cry with them. They share their faith in words and deeds.
The participants vary from year to year, and many come back year after year, because they believe they are doing what God has called them to do – using their skills if they have them, their enthusiasm if they don’t, sharing Christ’s love through their presence and companionship – and because they cherish the time they can spend together in Christian fellowship. Every one of them will give you slightly different reasons they participate in the work trip, but they’ll also give you one identical reason: Fr Lyon asked them to.
Do you know someone else who is reflecting the love of Jesus Christ by serving as His Hands in a world in need? Drop their name in the alms basin, along with what they do, or email email@example.com.