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Friday, May 6, 2016

Local church shares its mission

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lindsay Madison talks to a small group of people about local events during the chamber coffee Thursday morning at the First United Methodist Church as the Rev. Ken Van, pastor of the church, listens in.(Jason E. Silvers/Tribune)
A small crowd at Thursday morning's Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce Coffee got a glimpse of the involvement of a local church in the community.

Attendees of the brief event gathered in the basement of First United Methodist Church for refreshments and to socialize, while also viewing a slide show of church happenings over the past year and hearing more details about certain church activities from Pastor Rev. Ken Van.

Van said between 150 and 200 meals are served to area residents each week through Feeding Families in His Name, a faith-based initiative the church offers to anyone in the community. He said the program, which is supported by church and community volunteers, has been in place since May 2011.

"It started as an outreach to the community," he said. "We invite anyone to enjoy a free meal."

The free, warm repasts are served from 5:30 to 7 p.m. each Wednesday in the Fellowship Hall of the church, 301 S. National Ave.

"I think people come there because they need the nourishment, and also the companionship and to visit their friends," he said.

Van said the church served as a site for the free distribution of food this summer after church officials were previously contacted by the Kansas Food Bank. The church has also sent crews of volunteers to help members of a church in Joplin, Mo., clean up following a devastating tornado that ripped through that city in May 2011.

First United Methodist Church members give back through work in the community, Van said.

"There's a gentleman who gets volunteers to help build ramps or porches on the homes" of people who need the assistance, Van said.

A group of church members also take a mission trip to Appalachia each year.

"The past couple of years, we've sent out two work teams for that; helping people's homes in a poverty-stricken area," Van said.

Church officials also hope to continue conducting the annual Blessing of the Bikes. The June gathering drew about 14-15 motorcycles.

The church also plans to get the Blackwood Brothers gospel quartet back to perform next year. The group has performed the last two years in Fort Scott, including a recent show in August at the church, Van said.

Van said the church invites people to "come as they are" and "become part of our group."

"I believe God welcomes everyone as they are and accepts them as they are, and encourages them to grow in their faith," he said.

Van said the church congregation will celebrate its 150th year in Fort Scott in 2016, although there are no plans in place yet for a celebration. The current church building is more than 100 years old.

"It's about people using their minds as well as their hearts to grow their faith," Van said in reference to a quote by John Wesley, founder of the church. "In essentials, we have agreement. In things that are non-essential, we think and let think. It allows them to grow in their faith over the years."

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