The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

November 9, 2013

Outreach: Africa

Local churches reach out to Africa

United Methodist churches in the area are busy with projects on the local level, but members still find the energy and resources to reach out to Africa.

A group of churches from Danville and Catlin has formed the Popcorn Cluster mission to Liberia to help rebuild a church, give scholarships and donate to pastors’ aid. The Popcorn Cluster — which gets its name from somebody saying “things are popping all over” — includes St. James United Methodist, Batestown-Union Corner, Catlin United Methodist, First United Methodist, Bowman Avenue and Farmers Chapel.

“You don’t have to have a large church to have a mission,” said the Rev. Randy Robinson, lead pastor at St. James. “You just have to have passion.”

The local churches have that passion to help others, he said — not only in their own backyard, but in other countries. Some of the churches in the cluster are small, but they’re doing what they can to help.

Robinson has been speaking to local clubs about the mission, and, without being asked, people have offered to help. Community members may help by making donations, praying or going on the next overseas trip in January 2015, he said.

One goal is to raise $18,000 to rebuild St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Liberia, with all cluster churches chipping in.

With just 60 members, the Bowman Avenue United Methodist Church has already collected about $2,000 of its $3,000 share, the Rev. Jim Williams, pastor, said.

“Everybody is excited about this project,” he said. “We are very supportive of this.”

Church members have always been open to projects to help others, including the Fair Hope Children’s Ministry on church property. “These folks enjoy doing things,” he said.

When Robinson came to Danville as pastor two years ago, he was already involved in the Liberia project. In 2006, the bishop in Springfield asked four people to go to Liberia to see if a partnership was feasible.

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