Like many United Methodist churches, New Life UMC in Tallahassee had organized clothing giveaways to benefit its community.
That was fine, but as COVID-19 and other issues raised stress throughout the Conference, the Rev. Dr. Latricia Scriven knew that people needed something help for their inner beings as well as material items.
"I envisioned turning this into a place where people could come to get clothes, sure, and get food, but also find a place of relaxation at the church."Besides clothing, that place would have household items, fresh food from the community garden. Most of all, it would be a place where people from the community could come and relax, exhale, connect, and recharge before leaving with things they needed.
The congregation at New Life, like many other churches throughout the Florida Conference, still struggles with the impact of the pandemic. The church has not resumed in-person worship in the sanctuary.
But the church has a remodeled basement that members realized would be perfect for this outreach. Thus, the foundation for Your Serenity at New Life was set. And in cooperation with FAMU Wesley, it opened in late December.
It drew a crowd of more than 100 people, thanks to a promotion that included fliers, Facebook posts, and a live broadcast from local radio station Heaven 98.3.
"To say we had a blast at this event would not do it justice," Rev. Scriven said. "There were so many people, it was exciting."
She called it a "Spirit-filled event."
New Life member Shavonne Chappell leads the endeavor.
"She and her team set it up like a boutique. People have come and remarked that it seems like a beautiful boutique instead of a giveaway," the pastor said.
"The abundance of God has just shown up in marvelous ways. I saw one family leave with a bike. Another with a basketball. Another with a microwave. To watch all of the pieces come together is amazing."
Where the church held the clothing drives two or three times a year, it now opens Your Serenity for three hours every Saturday.
This was made possible by the determination and work of all involved, and with a grant from the Florida Conference and the United Methodist Foundation
The need in that community is great, but the greatness of God to bless those who work in his name is greater.
"When we first started this, I wondered if we could have enough supplies to meet the demand," Pastor Scriven said. "But God keeps multiplying, and the gifts keep coming in. It is really amazing."
Joe Henderson is News Content Editor for FLUMC.org.