Big Spring serves Page County neighbors
by Pearl Hartman
Pastor of Big Spring Mennonite Church, Luray, Va.
Big Spring Mennonite Church is deeply involved in many ways in Page County, Virginia. Our regular Wednesday noon prayer group prays for the needs and hopes of our community.
We are reaching beyond those gathered for worship by attending quarterly events at the assisted-living facility of one of our members, and volunteering at a local agency, Page One, which helps with needs in the county.
Relationships are key to connecting with others beyond ourselves. Family members and neighbors are considered part of our life together and, because we live in a small community, there are many ready-made connections.
We celebrate Christgiving, an event to honor both Thanksgiving and Christmas, by providing a large meal and music to warm our hearts. A different music group leads each year.
The residents from the Assisted Living home thoroughly enjoy the home-cooked meal made by church members on a dark winter night, as do others who are lonely and wanting to find a place to belong.
We also enjoy being out in the community and in nature. Once a year, we go up on Skyline Drive for our Sunday morning worship. This past summer we went on a free admittance day to the park. After our meal, we happily packed up to make space for a Muslim group wanting to set up for their picnic.
In August, we hand out water to the runners in the Luray Triathlon, handing out water. Road clean-up also takes us outside and blesses our neighbors, too.
The needs in Page County are significant. With a higher unemployment rate than any of the surrounding counties and fewer job options, we are aware that many families live on the edge of hunger and have to make hard choices with the income they do have. “Feed the Lambs” is a joint effort of local churches to provide a meal to elementary school children who may not have enough to eat over the weekend. Big Spring Mennonite Church packs 28 bags of food every two weeks to be delivered to Springfield Elementary School, two doors down from our church. For Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, we pack an additional bag so they too can celebrate without going hungry.
Our most comprehensive way of reaching beyond the wall of our church is the Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale. From helping with take-down and set up, planning for and handing out supplies for food booths and the main meals, to making pies and comforters, to running in the 5K, we have 33% of our congregation actively involved in the Relief Sale.
There are many opportunities to serve Christ in our community. We make our building available to the local elementary school for Bible programs held off-site. Though we are a small congregation, we serve with joy where we can to bring the light of Christ and will continue to do so as long as we have strength to do it. Connecting with the school, meeting the needs of those who lack resources, and praying for our neighbors keep us vibrant and alive in our walk with Jesus.