Bring Your Interests—We’ll Share Your Mission at Rolling Hills UMC
By Debra Matthews Shrader*
At Rolling Hills United Methodist Church in Rolling Hills Estates, California, we have a long history of support for mission, both locally and globally.
Rolling Hills United Methodist Church in Rolling Hills Estates, California. PHOTO: COURTESY ROLLING HILLS
Our congregation has a few members who served as missionaries. The Rasmussens served in Japan. They bring a rich understanding to the experience of serving in mission. My parents, Bill and Norma Matthews, served in the Philippines from 1965 to 1969 and in the Fiji Islands from 1970 to 1973. I learned firsthand the fantastic experiences that international exposure provides. Not only did we travel overseas in mission, but we also experienced home itineration—going from church to church, telling our stories, and singing our songs. The personal connection with a congregation is invaluable.
Currently, we support Ut To in Vietnam, the Red Bird Mission in Kentucky, Paul Jeffrey in Oregon (and worldwide), and John Elmore in Chile.
About a year ago, John Elmore visited and told us about his construction projects in Chile. John’s story made us realize that everyone has skills for missionary service. John met his future wife in Chile while traveling and later started working with the Methodist Agricultural School for Mapuche Indigenous people. It was fascinating to hear how he works on different projects, slowly building up the school while helping people in the region.
Cristina and John Elmore, at Bluff Park UMC in Oklahoma, participate in a Valentine’s celebration. “Cristina and I were the guests and entertainment. Yes, we danced the National Dance of Chile called the Quaka. The night was outstanding.” PHOTO: COURTESY JOHN ELMORE
Paul Jeffrey has visited several times in recent years, sharing his excellent photographs and telling about the situations he encounters around the world, especially in places of turmoil. Ut To and Karen Vo-To have visited twice. An evening potluck brought members to listen to their stories about the mission in Vietnam and the church’s struggle as an unofficial religious organization in the country. As a result, one member of our church decided to visit them in Vietnam and brought back stories and photos from her experience.
Rolling Hills United Methodist Church supports missionary Paul Jeffrey, shown here on assignment in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp outside Zalingei, Darfur, Sudan. PHOTO: COURTESY PAUL JEFFREY
I believe that having personal contact with our missionaries has inspired continued support.
Locally, we participate in the annual CROP walk (Church World Service) and the Toberman Community Center in San Pedro, supporting childcare services, a thrift shop, and a large gift effort, “Trek to the Tree,” at Christmas.
We help with Habitat for Humanity projects, collect items for backpacks for the homeless, and provide for food banks as requested. We support a meal service for people with AIDS and their families and cook a monthly meal for a homeless center at another United Methodist Church. During our annual mission fair, we raise money for agriculture and animals through Heifer. We encourage individuals to bring their interests to the mission committee so that we can share in the effort.
*Debra Matthews Shrader serves as the co-chair of missions at Rolling Hills UMC in Southern California.
Copyright New World Outlook magazine, Spring 2018 issue. Used by permission. Email the New World Outlook editor for more information.