At Peace Tree, we believe in loving all, serving all, and living our lives TOGETHER, which is why this Saturday, November 21st we are hosting a free community event at Tom's Farm in Rossville, TN from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. It's a family festival that is placing an emphasis on Giving Back and Giving Thanks. We give thanks for the great outdoors, for corn mazes and bonfires, hot dogs and hayrides, s'mores and new friends. We give back because God has so graciously blessed us with resources, education, homes, families, and a young church that is reaching others in need. That's why we're collecting items that will help another community in need and assist a sister congregation which is meeting the need. We want to take a moment to explain where your donated item is going and who it will help.
First, some background information: according to a 2012 study prepared by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, "Tennessee experienced the third fastest growth rate in Hispanic persons across the nation, but the size of Tennessee’s Hispanic population is still smaller than average." We know that there are many foreign-born young adults who live and work in Tennessee. At the same time, there are many native-born children (median age 9) who attend local schools; right now about 10 percent of children in Tennessee schools are Hispanic. As expected, many Hispanic persons live near large cities (Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga), so it's no surprise that over 50,000 Hispanic persons currently live in Shelby County.
This is why Asbury United Methodist Church and Iglesia Metodista Unida El Redentor are hosting the Guatemalan Consulate from Atlanta for a two-day visit to the Memphis-area December 5th (8:00 am - 5:00 pm) and December 6th (8:00 am - 2:00 pm). The consulate is assisting Guatemalans and other Hispanic persons with forms, applications, and other documentation that will ensure these persons have up-to-date passports, official government identification cards, marriage licenses, and birth certificates. El Redentor UMC estimates that anywhere between 400-1200 people will attend this event at Asbury UMC (2969 South Mendenhall Rd.). So Peace Tree decided that we would volunteer at this event, provide additional supplies to successfully host this many people, and use our gift of hospitality to welcome and engage this many people who will be waiting in line to meet with the consulate officials.
Volunteering at the consulate visit is one way we plan to Give Back. Already, high school Spanish language students are volunteering their time to translate and assist individuals who will need help filling out forms. Adults and children are offering their time to kick the soccer ball around and draw in coloring books with children whose parents will be waiting to be seen by the consulate officials. Retirees and home-bound adults are baking batches of cookies and freezing them so that we can thaw them out later and have snacks available to hand out to the many people we'll see December 5th and 6th. And our House Groups and Launch Team are all taking shifts to help distribute water and snacks to everyone we will meet the first weekend in December.
There are plenty of opportunities for you to join Peace Tree as we Give Back and Give Thanks. One way to is to come out to the family festival this Saturday at Tom's Farm from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. You'll have a chance to meet new people, find out who else is volunteering at the December 5th and 6th consulate visit, and possibly sign up to work a volunteer shift. We'll also be collecting donated items such as bottled water, individually packaged snacks, soccer balls, coloring books and crayons, copy paper and pens & pencils. But even if you can't make it out to Tom's Farm, you can always drop off a donated item at our mother church, Collierville UMC, and ask them to place the item in Pastor Kris' office.
Personally, I want to Give Thanks for all of you who have already committed yourselves to volunteering at the December 5th and 6th consulate visit. I want to Give Thanks for those who have already donated water and snacks so that we may show radical hospitality to our neighbors in need. And I want to Give Thanks for you, the person who is taking the time to read this blog post and is now checking your calendar to see if you're free this Saturday to drop off a donation at our Give Back Give Thanks Family Festival. Thank you for helping someone in need. God bless you as you continue shining Christ's light out into the world.
+Peace and Love from Pastor Kris
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