The Church of the Brethren has long emphasized the importance of interdenominational ministries with the wider church.
During and after the World Wars, the denomination worked closely with other religious bodies to help alleviate suffering in the world and that emphasis on cooperative service has continued.
Hosting the Church World Service Center at New Windsor, Maryland, founding and ongoing support of Heifer International, and working with the historic peace churches (Mennonite, Quaker, Brethren) and the federal government to establish a civilian program of alternative service, are significant examples of that ecumenical cooperation.
The Warrensburg Church of the Brethren has been very active in its participation in and support of the Missouri Festival of Sharing for its 38 years.
In 1981 the Bishop’s Conference on Hunger, Poverty and Injustice of the United Methodist Church became ecumenical, and today 30 denominations and church-related organizations in Missouri, including the Missouri-Arkansas District of the Church of the Brethren, have joined the effort to eliminate hunger, poverty and injustice through the Festival of Sharing.
Churches and individuals donate paper products, food boxes, hygiene kits and much more in September and October. Volunteers then box these supplies and take them to one of seven Sharefest locations throughout Missouri, held on different Saturdays in the fall.
In 2018, almost 55,000 people in need received physical and spiritual gifts.
These donations included almost 3,000 each of the Personal Hygiene Packs and Missouri Reading & Writing Packs and almost 50,000 Best Choice Labels that earned .03 cents per label.
This October, he Warrensburg Church of the Brethren will collect cash donations or the supplies to assemble 15 Missouri Paper Products Packs and 15 Church World Service School Kits.
Originally there was one large Misssouri Festival of Sharing event held in October in Sedalia each year.
Then, two Sharefests were added, one at Houston and one at Dexter, so that agencies did not have to drive so far to pick up material resources.
In 2018, for the first time, the all-encompassing Sedalia event was discontinued, and there are now seven regional Sharefest locations: Macon, Kansas City, Republic, Tipton, Dexter, Cameron and Ferguson.
The emphasis is on assisting local service agencies like the Johnson County Food Center on Culton Street here in Warrensburg.
The 2019 Festival of Sharing booklet reminds us that “Poverty is not always obvious, but it exists in all parts of Missouri: 14% of Missourians and 19.2% of Missouri children experience poverty…. Shortages of affordable housing, food insecurity, increasing healthcare costs and low-wage jobs are driving factors in the struggle.” (To download the 2018 Missouri Poverty Report, go to communityaction.org/poverty-reports.)
The agencies that FOS partners with vary in size and scope, including our own Johnson County Food Center.
We encourage other Warrensburg congregations to collect blankets or Clean-Up Bucket kits for emergencies caused by tornadoes, hurricanes and floods.
Or local churches, especially the young people, could collect shoes for Nicaragua and/or eyeglasses for the Yucatan in Mexico. (To read more about these efforts, go to the FOS booklet at Festivalofsharing.org.)
Of course, cash donations are always appreciated from any source, and so are school supplies, student dental packs, garden seeds and prison packs for women.
Almost 2,500 Missouri Student Dental Packs were provided in 2018 and 500 Missouri Women’s Prison Packs were distributed, the exact number that were requested.
Giving to Heifer International through FOS supports its work with small-farmer cooperative development in the U.S.
In 2018, $8,236 was raised for Heifer International.
If you enjoy the excitement of auction bidding or buying, particularly to help those in need, plan to attend this year’s popular Quilt Auction — with proceeds going to the Church World Service Blankets Plus Program.
The Quilt Auction will take place Oct. 26 at the Knights of Columbus in Columbia.
Quilt previewing begins at 9 a.m., lunch and dessert will be served at 11 a.m. (free will donation) and the Live Auction begins at 12:30 p.m.
The Warrensburg COB may organize a car pool for this event.
If anyone is interested, contact Janis Russell at (660) 362-1213 or (941) 400-2131; or Martha Baile at (660) 624-2700.