MANATEE -- Sometimes in ministry, it's difficult to tell who's receiving and who's giving. For Church of the Trinity's volunteer coordinator Wendy LaChaunce, their recent project for Bradenton's Turning Points was the largest outreach she had seen in her congregation in 13 years and the experience was "absolutely incredible and wonderful."
For the nonprofit organization serving homeless and needy community members, 34 families, 165 adults and 59 children benefitted from donated clothes, toiletries, baked goods, toys and a church garage sale full of free items.
At the same time, the34 members and friends who gave a combined total of 130 hours in community volunteer time to Turning Points made upnearly two-thirds of the
congregation involved in the project.
"We were energized. I saw people coming together, There was a lot of energy among the people," said the Rev. Gayle Roberts, associate pastor for adult Christian education. "We just want to reach out and help folks. All of us in our church feel like we've been blessed and we want to give back."
"This outreach is part of our renewed efforts to give of ourselves in Christian service. Since the beginning of the year," said senior pastor the Rev. Charles Tigard.
Church of the Trinity has partnered with over six area nonprofits, including Turning Points, Habitat for Humanity and Mothers Helping Mothers. "These partnerships are a core part of our mission as we reach Manatee county with God's inclusive love," he said.
The connection to Turning Points began when executive director of Turning Points, Cheryl Hedger, made a presentation at Trinity about the organization, whose logo states, "Where Compassion Takes Action."
"That created a relationship between us," LaChaunce said. Her volunteers once had attempted to have a free yard sale for the needy on their church property at 7225 Lockwood Ridge Road, but were unsuccessful in reaching those who most needed the help.
Now, "we do whatever they need," LaChaunce said. "Some of our elderly folks have been able to go there and get the free health care and free dental care."
Previously LaChaunce served as a missionary in Africa and South America. "At Turning Points, I felt like I was in Africa. We have all these invisible people in our own community that need our help and nobody's aware of it. They still are human beings. These folks are right here," she said.
Leading the church project for Turning Points made LaChaunce feel both sad and happy, she said. "I'm happy our church is a service church and we're willing to go out and do that."
The associate pastor agreed. "When I was young, I was a single mother and I was blessed. I feel like other people helped me and I want to give it forward. We just want to help folks," Roberts said. "Part of our mission statement is loving God and loving people. What we've realized as a congregation is if we say we love God, we have to show that by loving people."
Church of the Trinity is a Metropolitan Community Church. To learn more about the church's ministries and programs, visit trinitymcc.com.