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Barnabas Ministry

Messiah_Landing_Barnabas_Storiesby Nicola Freeman

You may recall a time being at a church worship service when attendees could stand up and voice prayer requests. This time would allow others to voice joys, concerns and even birthday announcements. This special segment during the worship hours allowed members/guests to voice a need or hope for a loved one, along with announcing celebrations and maybe even signing happy birthday to the recipients!

Messiah was a participant of this previous practice in its worship services, but it was phased out in the 1990’s as the church expanded and time became limited to take all these requests. Now members are encouraged to express prayer needs, joys and concerns with the pastors and staff, to be followed up during the week. “Messiah’s Congregational Care Team works diligently to make sure they reach out to all those in need. However, there was a fear of making sure no one was forgotten in a time of need and to convey hope,” said Pastor Dick Ellis.

From this came the creation of the Messiah Barnabas Ministry, a ministry of encouragement as a entity within the Congregational Care Team at Messiah. This ministry, created in 2003, consists of dedicated people seizing the opportunity to encourage others through life’s many challenges. It provides wishes and prayers for health and healing of others, expresses appreciation for good works, and welcomes new members and babies. The ministry also acknowledges special events and expresses sympathy.

Each week a member of the Barnabas team writes personal notes to members of Messiah’s church family. These handwritten notes express their love, prayer, concerns, joys and share the gift of hope through Christ’s love for them.

“When we looked into the development of this ministry area, we had an immediate response,” said Pastor Dick. Messiah Barnabas Ministry is lead by Pastor Dick’s wife, Mickey Ellis. From the start, the couple has worked with the Congregational Care Team to develop a list of individuals to reach out to each week and provide cards. The Barnabas Ministry team has evolved as they witness the impact and the power of these handmade or purchased cards as a message of hope.

Barnabas Ministry reaches out to people with the mission of hope, celebration and encouragement while showing the recipient that its church cares for them, in a special way. “No one wants to be forgotten, and these cards remind others that we aren’t,” said Pastor Dick.

“Those serving on the Barnabas Ministry Team work together well. The weeks in the year are divided out and assigned to each member. There is a Barnabas box located at the Messiah office for pick up each week, with both handmade and commercial cards for their use,” said Mickey. There is a binder of the weekly assignment list with resource ideas for notes, return labels, and prayers and phrases to help the writer generate ideas for the cards. The Congregational Care Team provides a list of recipients along with only an address and the type of note to be sent. No personal or event specifics are ever divulged.

“Our notes are prayers and words of hope and encouragement and they are sufficient for God knows the details,” added Mickey.

The cards are signed by The Messiah Barnabas Ministry with the authors of the cards writing heart-felt messages and scriptures/stories and other messages of encouragement, love and as always, hope for today and what lies ahead.

The Barnabas box is passed on to another member each week, with notes to be written and then brought back to Messiah to be stamped and mailed, though at times members of the Barnabas team have used their own stamps!

There is also another group of volunteers that help the Barnabas Ministry. Each year, Mickey will reach out to Messiah volunteers interested in making cards for the Barnabas Ministry. These gatherings have become a fun tradition for many scrapbook makers and those who like to let their creativity come alive. The day is spent making various cards, along with great fellowship together and a meal.

Pastor Dick mentions that it has been a common occurrence to see these Barnabas cards in the homes of those he visits months following its delivery. The conversation may never bring up the cards, but those cards hold meaning to those who receive them, as they are placed in their homes as a wonderful reminder of the love Messiah extends to them.

“May these cards always be looked at from the recipient as not a piece of junk mail, but a personal connection and that their church cares. We are touching these people’s lives and giving them hope,” added Pastor Dick.

Another area the Barnabas Ministry is serving is through its birthday project. The goal of this program is to send birthday cards to Messiah members 70 years or older, during the month of their birthday. Volunteer Carol Baker prepares and send the cards each month. Drawn into the work of Christ, Carol works on these cards to be distributed twice a month. The cards are signed by The Messiah Pastors and the Barnabas Ministry Team.

Mickey adds that this is a special working relationship the team has with Carol, as she seeks outside transportation to come to Messiah and is not a member of the church. She has felt called to the Barnabas Ministry, and the birthday project was an ideal fit for Carol to serve others.

In an era where the notion of reaching out to someone is usually in the form of a email, text message or Facebook post, a postmarked card is becoming a lost tradition of communications. However, the Messiah Barnabas Ministry Team is using a timeless method of touching people, as they offer their words of encouragement with each card that arrives in a mailbox.

Messiah Barnabas Ministry mail delivers HOPE.

Read more about the mission and ministries of Messiah in Pathways Newsletter.



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