Church #2. Meet Lexanne Kimball Graves. She is the Director of Faith Formation at Living Springs Lutheran Church in Columbia, South Carolina. Living Springs has a membership of 350 people with a heart for service.
Graves describes Living Springs as an “agile church” that likes to do something else. She says, “The congregation is excited to try new things with permission to fail!” In re-imagining church, their goal is to move people’s hearts with the idea that God is not just at church but that God is everywhere.
One way they have started to move people is by connecting two things that go hand-in-hand: education and food. Reaching out, Living Springs has started two community service projects collaborating with schools and counselors to help with food scarcity:
1. Each fall, people from Living Springs gather at a local high school in Columbia, SC on Thursdays nights. With school spirit, they bring dinner to the junior varsity football team and then watch the game. It is a football food ministry!
Through food and support, these two groups of people have begun to get to know each other. Feeling comfortable, Living Springs at the end of the season invited the team, coaches and parents off the field and into the church community. Time was spent in worship and in a meal together. Graves says, “It’s an awesome partnership that the Holy Spirit has brought together.”
Another education and food project is a backpack ministry. At church, all ages come together to pack food in generic bags. Social workers then pick up the food and distribute it at their schools for kids who need food for the weekend. Collected donations support this food ministry.
The myth behind service projects is that much money is needed to provide everything. But Living Springs debunks this myth. Yes, money is helpful but it is really about the people. With a collaborative approach – people amd to outreach ministries, children are fed, relationships are built and a community closes the gap that once stood in-between them.
Why do these two service projects matter? It matters because of the Bible story about Manna and Quail found in Exodus 16. Graves says, “Just as the Israelites were given enough each day to eat, the same is true for us. We don’t need to be gluttoness; we just need enough.” Food scarcity is a real issue, and we should share what we have. She says, “Like the Israelites, there comes a time when we have 7 years of famine and 7 years of plenty. And you could easily find yourself in-between one of those places at any time.”
For more information on this story, contact Lexanne Kimball Graves at Lexanne@LivingSpringsColumbia.org or 803-736-0661.