Go, Sow, Grow: The Circuit on the Rise help their communities

December 29, 2022 | by JB Brayfindley

Go, Sow, Grow: The Circuit on the Rise help their communities


 Editor's note: Go, Sow, Grow is a prayer initiative that launched early in 2022 in which local churches were invited to pray for one another in order to align our prayers for God's vision of growth and abundance to manifest among us.  As a companion to that prayer ministry, we will be reaching out to circuits across our 5 districts to develop short profiles on the ministry of our local churches and include links for more information and how to get involved. Together, we are the church. #BeUMC
 
“Every meeting is different,” states Rev. Ginger Foster, circuit leader of The Circuit on the Rise. “We do a variety of things in our meeting. Sometimes we check in personally, other times we’re talking about what’s exciting at our churches or what’s challenging and… sometimes, like our last meeting, we just got going on theology and got pretty deep.”
 
Located above Sacramento in the Sierra Foothill region, the circuit’s churches are scattered. Circuit meetings are held monthly but other activities within the circuit are limited. According to Foster, coordinating joint events is difficult.
 
 “It’s pretty challenging because of the geography—we’re kind of spread out,” states Foster. “Pioneer and Newcastle, we’re really close. After that you go to Lincoln, about 45 minutes away, and Roseville, 30 minutes down the hill, and then it’s an hour to get over to Foothills and Federated.”
 
Within the circuit, two pastors were ordained this year: Rev. Mahsea Evans at First UMC in Roseville was ordained an elder; and Melanie Oliver was ordained a deacon serving in Youth and Family Ministry at Loomis First UMC. A new church was added this year to the Circuit when Love Korean church moved to Lincoln from Yuba City.
 
Foothills UMC in Rescue, California welcomed new pastor Rev. Linda Burson who has now recovered after a car accident while moving to the area this summer. “Big news from Foothills is that, with significant effort by church leadership, giving to the church has recently increased exponentially!” states Foster. Foothills UMC focuses on community involvement and small groups including Merry Widows, Knitting & Prayer Shawl along with book groups and Bible Study. The church boasts a playground open to the public with a lending library. Members are active in the Housing Emergency Lodging Program (HELP), Volunteers in Ministry (VIM), SHARE Food Pantry and partners with other churches in a homeless ministry. Worship is recorded and available online.
 
Rev. Alison Berry and Rev. Melanie Oliver serve First UMC Loomis, a reconciling congregation active in community service. “They are very inspired about civil rights, human rights and social justice,” states Foster. “…and they have 26 youth who are actively involved in the program and doing service projects.” This social justice emphasis is directly related to their heritage as a congregation originally founded by 1st generation Japanese immigrants. The church leans into building community in worship, service, and fellowship. Along with discussion groups and Bible studies, First UMC has Wonder Women, Wonder Workers and Senior Community support groups. Each year, the church honors its heritage by hosting an annual dinner featuring traditional Asian cuisine.
 
Pioneer UMC, having served the Auburn community for 170 years, has been celebrating its history and looking to the future, according to their pastor Rev. Ginger Foster. “There have been changes in leadership this year… we are finding five people to do what one person did!” states Foster. The congregation continues to stay active in a prayer shawl ministry, Prosper Placer, supporting UMCOR, Placer People of Faith Together, and donating to Auburn Interfaith Food Closet. In the past it has held annual Music for Humanity concerts to raise fund for community non-profits. This practice begins again in February 2023.  Currently the congregation generously funds the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund to support those who are stranded coming through Auburn, those who are unhoused and others in need.
 
First UMC Roseville “is so excited about what they are doing!” states Foster. Served by the Rev. Dr. Mahsea Evans, the congregation is hosting a monthly communitywide “Fourth Friday at First” in their building and parking lot. A cooperative effort with organizations including Latino Leadership Council, Prosper Placer, and Placer People of Faith Together, the event includes free flu shot or vaccination clinics, food giveaways and special themed activities. “It’s creating community in that area and becoming quite well known—everybody that’s involved is really excited about it.” Also, on December 17, the church,  for the first time, re-enacted and celebrated Las Posadas. Led by a Mariachi band around 125 participants of all ages walked the neighborhood streets recalling in two languages Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging. “First UMC’s members pulled out all the stops, creating a memorable night including dinner and a traditional dance group,” states Foster.
 
Newcastle UMC, under the leadership of Rev. Dave Pettengill, partnered last summer with Newcastle Elementary school for a “Back to School Bash.” Two hundred people turned up for the music, games, and cookout BBQ. The church filled 80 donated backpacks with school supplies and gave them away. For Christmas, they are partnering with the school in adopting six families with 15 children to provide Christmas gifts and meals. The church is also sponsoring six seniors in a senior mobile home park, Castle City.
 
El Dorado County Federated church in Placerville is a Presbyterian and United Methodist church led by United Church of Christ pastor Rev. Dr. Laura Barnes. The congregation has provided services to Grizzly Flat and the communities impacted by the Caldor fire. Five of their members have been trained in Disaster Response  . “They have come to our area for the Mosquito Fire, went to Mariposa for the Oak Fire,” states Foster. “They’ve been to Paradise to do a VIM [Volunteers in Ministry] trip.” The church has a Tree of Kindness to collect funds for students to have Christmas. Pastor Barnes notes that the church invited the community to an Advent prayer service at noon on Wednesdays in their 150 year old chapel and “it’s been amazing!”
 
Rev. Vinny Santanelli serving Lincoln UMC welcomed Rev. Hyesung Kang and Lincoln Love Korean UMC to its campus. Now, the church has both an English and Korean language ministry and worship service. The Love Korean church is “looking to the future in a very courageous way,” states Foster. “After strategic planning Yuba Love Korean UMC changed its name and relocated to Lincoln, an area with more growth potential.” Lincoln UMC is restarting the community meal “Ez Dinner Night”, six times a year community meal event featuring local musicians and a ready-to-eat meal for busy families. This outreach was recently restarted after COVID and already has 40-80 participants. Every second Sunday is a special offering for Helping Hands. The congregation partners with Operation Christmas Child and Kairos.
 
 


JB Brayfindley is a freelance journalist.