Founded in 1941, Epiphany is a community centered in Jesus. It’s a place where Jesus restores with forgiveness and new life. It’s a place for gathering socially, where unrelated people can relate. We are growing to know Jesus more deeply by experiencing his sacrificial love and learning to love like him.

Who are we? What are we doing here?

A few years back, we came up with a bold ministry plan. We wanted to grow. Not quantitatively in the first place, but qualitatively, in depth, in relationships. We wanted to grow in God’s Word, grow in service, and see God grow His kingdom here in our neighborhood. We were ready to let faith run.

In time it became clear that we wanted to focus our efforts in our local area. We could be church in a lot of places, but we still believe God has called us to be church here, in a transitioning urban area, with no parking lot, problems with crime, a growing refugee and immigrant population close by, pockets of wealth and poverty all packed in together in proximity. God called us to be church here.

So we started listening to what the neighborhood needed.

We knew that each member was called to let faith work in love in their unique station in life. We also believed that God was calling us to do something together as a worshiping community to serve our neighborhood.

Epiphany was planted in September of 1941. And what happened in December of 1941?

Pearl Harbor, World War II, and no building project for Epiphany.

So, for seven years we worshipped Jesus in the basement of Woerner Elementary, the local public school.

Looking for a way to let faith run, we turned the sled toward the students, families, and staff of Woerner Elementary. We encouraged members to serve there as reading buddies. We started building relationships.

Principal Peggy Meyer told us that one of the great needs of the school’s families were social engagements that encouraged them to build a support network for each other. So, we tried some things, and the Holy Spirit has been refining our efforts, specifically in two ways:

(1) Annual Ice Cream Social,

(2) English as a Second Language Class

Epiphany had been doing Ice Cream socials for years as fundraisers. In 2014 we had about 30 people show up (about 5-10 from the neighborhood). In 2015, we took a year off. Then, in 2016, we decided to try it as a welcome back-to-school-social with the new kindergartner families at Woerner as our special guests.

Having built trust with the principal and other school administrators, they let us extend to the invite to all their new kindergarten students, with tickets included to pass out to their family members.

We had about 60 people from Woerner attend that August. We also put out an announcement to the community. We said we wanted to partner with all willing neighbors to channel community service through Woerner school.

Our alderwoman came to serve ice cream, along with others from the community, plus about 50 volunteers from our own congregation, around a 150 in all. In August of 2017 we had over 200.

We’re not sure what God is doing with these scattered seeds of kindness in the name of Jesus. All we know is that faith needs a place to run.

We also started a weekly ESL class designed for some of the 140 families at Woerner who speak English as their second language. Again, we put out the notice to the community: “We want to partner with all willing neighbors to channel community service to and through our local public school.”

We don’t know what God will ultimately do with these seeds of kindness sown in Jesus’ name, but we know that faith needs to run.

 

Our faith in Jesus is pulling us to pursue a vision to be a community that puts Jesus first, neighbors second, and ourselves third by gathering to be served by him so we can grow to love as he loves.

By focusing our social service outreach on just one little public elementary school, we’re seeing more opportunities for service than we could have imagined.

One day Woerner’s Principal, Mrs. Meyer, emailed us: “We need space for our ballet class on Wednesdays. Can you help us?”

Yes!

So, 80 little ballerinas started coming to practice their plie’s and Rond de Jambe’s in our upstairs parlor room. We provided snacks and warm smiles.

Then it was a time for their end-of-year recital, normally held in the school gym. We had a nice stage in our fellowship hall, which hadn’t been used for much besides storage in about 40 years. We cleaned it up and invited all the parents from the school.

We were blessed to share this space in the name of Jesus.

At the end of the recital, the girls presented us with a giant, yellow, hand-written thank you card:

When one of the girls read it aloud, she made a memorable mistake that still warms our hearts. She read, “Thank you for letting our class come to our church for ballet …”

We trust that God is working in these relationships for His glory and the good of our community. Whatever happens, we know that faith needs a place to run.

Here’s a video we made to recap this work God has been doing among us: