Posted: 3/25/19 at 9:20am. Article by Bruce Powers.
Urbanna Baptist Church has had a parsonage for several years. Sometimes it was lived in, other times not; but people did not like it sitting empty. So we did a study of options and voted to make it our Mission House. Our Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) group is moving all of its projects–which they used to have to unpack and then stash away every week–into the first floor area, and we hope to use the bedrooms as guest rooms for family members, or visiting speakers, or other guests who want to spend the weekend by the river!
The house itself is located on a high-traffic corner, so on Mission Saturdays, the group plans to “spill over” into the yard and do things on the porch so that they can invite passersby to join in or take a tour. We have already had members of other WMU groups come to take a look, and we’ve even hosted a youth group from a nearby Episcopal church who came to join in the projects.
Another exciting part of this story is how our WMU members have consistently embraced their role as our missions engine and have worked toward inclusive projects that are not just for women. They have been very intentional about including women and men of all ages. Our projects connect our craft skills with the needs of our local partners as well as national and international partners through Woman’s Missionary Union of Virginia (WMUV) and the BGAV. The amount of goods our small group produces and how far around the world they reach is really quite amazing. They have also done a great job empowering individuals to pursue their own God-given passions for ministry within the group while remaining organized and effective.
But when the church voted to officially give them this new dedicated space outside the church walls, the group’s passions were ignited in a new way. Initially I was simply excited that they could set things up and have storage space, but the mental shift from “in the church” to outside—even though it is next door—has caused a burst of excitement and creativity and shifted our missions efforts even more toward the community. It’s been fun to watch!
Our WMU group intends to dedicate the mission house to one of our members who passed away a few years ago and left a bequest to continue supporting missions programs, so we are inviting Valerie Carter, WMUV’s executive director, to come out and help us dedicate the Juliet Means Mission House.
We hope our story inspires other churches who might be looking to use their parsonage (or another part of their property or facilities) in a fresh, new way!