A Hundred Acts of Service for a Hundred Years of Goodness
By Carl Stagner
Like many Church of God congregations, First Church of God in Jefferson City, Missouri, recently celebrated their centennial. Recognizing the occasion as more than a marker on the timeline of their ministry, the congregation felt it couldn’t limit their response to God’s goodness over the last hundred years to mere ceremonial pomp and circumstance. Longing to love like Jesus loved, local leadership laid out the challenge before the congregation—one hundred years of God’s goodness had to be met with one hundred acts of service.
At first, the seemingly lofty goal was met with a measure of skepticism. Could it really be accomplished? After all, with only fifty-two weeks in a year, one hundred service projects looked beyond their reach. But only a few weeks into the initiative, the congregation has surpassed the halfway point—proving both the attainability of the goal, and the eagerness of the church to serve.
It helps that First Church’s strategy includes projects accessible to everyone, at any time, and separate from the collective work of the congregation. In other words, individuals and families can freely select from “ornaments” hanging on the church’s “centennial tree” in the lobby, revealing a wide variety of options. Each option, when complete, contributes to the total tally for the church.
“Our centennial logo is on each little circle that people can remove from the tree,” Pastor Joe Gregory explains. “On the reverse side, suggestions include everything from baking cookies to deliver to the local police or workers at the local Starbucks, to cleaning up the park, to paying for people’s laundry. People can do these projects as a family, they can take pictures of their work, and then put the little circles in the offering plate. The pictures are later attached to the trunk our centennial tree.”
Pastor Joe says the recipients of small blessings—random acts of kindness—have responded with tremendous appreciation already. Reports continue to show the positive effect the church’s campaign of service has had on the community. Joe says the congregation is also reaching beyond the Church of God by sending care packages each month to local pastors; near the end of the year, they plan to invite these pastors and their families to a special meal of appreciation. Joe stresses that all aspects of this kindness campaign—including everyday happenings of the church—are bathed in intentional, fervent prayer, both individually and corporate.
Of course, some ceremonial aspects are warranted, have taken place, and will continue to take place.
On Sunday, March 5, First Church of God kicked off their centennial celebration with what they called a “homecoming” service. Former lead pastors were in attendance and a group picture was taken. Special testimonies were shared, recalling days of old, and other ceremonial elements were featured. Dinners, a concert by the African Children’s Choir, a community hymn sing, a ladies’ luncheon coinciding with Mother’s Day, a special VBS, and a family fall festival have been planned to extend the celebration beyond a single day.
“Our mission statement is to bring people into a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ and others,” Pastor Joe reflects. “It also points to an opportunity to worship God. We say we’re offering these acts of service to the community and that is true, but ultimately we’re offering them to God. Our slogan for the year is ‘Serving God as We Serve Our Community.’ We’re certainly not geniuses in all that we’re doing, but God is leading and we’re doing our best to follow!”
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Centennial group pose during the homecoming service in early March 2023.