Dateline: Wilkes Blvd. UMC, Columbia, Mo. We traveled to this historic and busy college community as part of a mission strategy team to see the ministries implemented in this once dwindling congregation and learn how they had begun the process of turn-around. In the process, we met wonderful people and saw a renewed emphasis on real mission oriented outreach and ministry.
The walls between fellowship and worship had, literally, come down. Each Sunday people are served breakfast in this area, find cups of steaming hot coffee, a place to sit and friendly people. The church knew that some people are allergic to "pews" and moved in couches and chairs to one side of the sanctuary and many sit with coffee at the tables and participate in worship.
Underused upper floors acquired new vital purpose as a center to help the homeless was begun. Showers, laundry, mail center, job center, and clothing source all at this church!
One of the most innovative and rich areas was the Center for Visual Arts where dedicated artists ministered to the soul through the medium of art. People were encouraged to come and explore, try their hand at creating, and finding friends who shared the love of God through a love of artistic expression.
The visiting group was excited, enthused, and encouraged to return to their home church and begin to make their church more mission driven and more purpose filled in its own setting. Leaving Columbia and the "Church at Wilkes and 7th" we could heartily say, "Here, There be Ministry!"