Enter to worship, depart to serve

CWSKit Stories

Snippet below was posted with author permissions and originally submitted by Karen Cernich through the Missourian online publication; full content available here.

The words hanging over the doorway leading in and out of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ at the corner of Fifth and Market streets in Downtown Washington say it all: “Enter to Worship,” “Depart to Serve.”

“That really does characterize who we are,” said the Rev. Gary Schulte, who has served as pastor at St. Peter’s UCC for the last two years. “And people live that here. I see it.”

The mission was in action following the worship service Sunday, Aug. 25, as about 60 members gathered to fill 75 emergency cleanup buckets for Church World Service to distribute in the wake of natural disasters, including floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. The church devoted 100 days to collecting items needed to fill the buckets.

The project perfectly reflects the mindset of members at St. Peter’s, which is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year — the best way to mark their major milestone is by doing something tangible and meaningful for others.

The church is known across the community for things like hosting the free weekly Harvest Table community meal and the annual Festival of Trees at Christmas to collect food and donations to stock the local pantries. St. Peter’s, in fact, operates its own food pantry to serve the community.

“We open our church to a lot of different things,” said Patty Wood, chair of the anniversary committee and a past president of the congregation. “The Civic Chorus rehearses here, we have AA groups that meet here. We have Great Decisions book group that meets here, literacy groups (tutor and students) who meet here.”

“All of those things are emblematic of the church being a really integral part of the community,” said Jon Bauer, who also serves on the anniversary committee and is a past president of the congregation.

To our faithful friends at St Peter’s UCC and around the nation, thank you for the many ways you serve your neighbors!