Area churches take mission work into local communities

Area churches and volunteers spent a recent week transforming Lycoming County by aiding residents with home repairs and other projects through a local mission to improve the community.

“We have about 230 people going out every day who (completed) roughly 80 or 90 local house projects, like building repairs,” said Mitch Marcello, First United Methodist Church’s director of outreach. “And that doesn’t include those working in the kitchens and the 15 or 20 kids participating in our children’s version in Williamsport.”

Previously, the mission week was called “Transform Williamsport” but has expanded in its third year to encompass the entire county with hubs added in Jersey Shore and Muncy.

It is the goal of First United Methodist and the other 42 churches involved to show the love of Christ by assisting those in need as a way to develop deeper relationships within the community.

“This is bigger than just the church. We wanted to find a way to go out to the people and better serve our neighborhood, our community,” Marcello said.

He added that the Christian Church at Cogan Station has been heavily supportive of the project and sent large crews of people ready to roll up their sleeves.

About nine months ago, people began submitting application requests for a crew to come install flooring, do repairs, build handicap accessible ramps and more.

“People who are in need, who cannot do this themselves because of physical or financial reasons, they send in applications,” Marcello said.

Contractors are sent to the sites and determine what work needs to and can be done by unskilled volunteers.

Those who wanted to help out during the local mission week didn’t need any real skill or they could be a professional contractor.

“We do different tasks from painting, to laundry, to landscaping. We are just trying to do whatever we can to help,” Marcello said. “We’re very blessed to have very skilled people that are willing to teach others who might not have the skills or experience.”

What differentiates this mission from traditional mission trips is that it allows volunteers to help out one day or all five if they are able, where as normally someone would need to commit a larger block of time and travel to participate in church missions.

In Jersey Shore, volunteers met at 7 a.m. daily to decide which projects they would tackle.

“The mission is dedicated to sharing the love of Jesus Christ by helping neighbors repair and renew their homes,” said Lyn Thompson, one of the organizers in that area.

At 98 Take-a-Peek Road in Avis, a crew was cutting back brush and repairing a screened-in porch for a homeowner.

Mark Fink, of the Larryville United Methodist Church, was trimming the long-neglected pine bushes in front of the residence, and he too echoed the reason for the mission.

“We all work for the same goal; it’s all the same God,” he said.

The community outreach effort ended with an appreciation block party as a thanks to all who assisted in improving their community together.

– Paul Garrett contributed to this report.