Welcome Home: A Community for Veterans

Catching a Deeper Vision for Christian Unity

By Gretchen Shults
Church Recruitment Team

The ForColumbia 2024 Exec Team is in full swing as this is published. As of the second week in February, 50 local Christian churches have signed up to partner for our annual Day of Service on Saturday, April 27th.

Now in its tenth year, the members of the Exec Team and other “super volunteers” are weighing in with their recollections of wading through the early years of uncertainty, relentless deadlines, and more…all while keeping the work and Person of Jesus front and center as we pursue increased unity. Below, Gretchen Shults shares her impressions.

Gretchen Shults

Gretchen Shults

I’ve served on the ForColumbia Church Recruitment team in various roles since 2017. After serving in 2016, a friend asked me whether I would like to help. I was excited to serve in this way! With so much division in our world, being able to work towards unity of churches, even if just for one day a year, seemed like something I wanted to be a part of.

Over the years, the Church Recruitment team’s role has mostly stayed the same — working towards bringing more churches to join our effort while supporting our partnering churches as they promote ForColumbia with their church members.

Like with most things, we’re always looking to improve our systems.

Bringing Together a Diverse Group of Church Contacts

In 2019, we hosted a dinner in February for the church contacts of each of our partnering churches. We didn’t know then if this was a good idea or would become a flop!

Pastors and Volunteers

Pastors and volunteers often work side-by-side in the pursuit of Christian unity.

The response was more encouraging than I’d hoped!

This special evening has continued each year since, deepening our relationships with our church partners. This annual gathering is encouraging as it brings together representatives from 30+ churches to hear more about the event. I am pretty confident most leave more excited to recruit their church family to participate!

Casting a Wider Net for the Next Decade

Last year, Shelly Mayer and I discussed our desire for every church in the city to know about ForColumbia. A comprehensive publicity effort would allow each church to choose whether to participate and to ensure they were aware of the event.

This year, our team has worked hard to connect with every Christian church in Columbia over email and phone. We are excited to have new churches joining us for the first time! With this being the 10th year of serving, we currently have 50 churches coming together in unity to serve our city side-by-side. We’re praying more will join.

Auburn HillsNew Friendships, Deepening Unity and Connection

I have so many fun memories of serving on the ForColumbia team! One that comes to mind happened during the Church Contact dinner last year.

During this evening, we talk about different ways to promote ForColumbia. We always throw out that our leadership team is willing to come and give an announcement on a Sunday morning. I joked that no one had ever taken me up on this offer. And you know what happened? Three churches asked me to come! It was a joy to visit these churches, see how they worship, and speak about ForColumbia with those in attendance.

The relationships I have formed with pastors and people who attend a different church than me have been a highlight. Paul tells us in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Christ doesn’t see us as Presbyterians or Catholics, north-siders or south-siders. He sees us as one people. And being a part of this effort has allowed this to become a reality for me. I’m thankful for my friendships during this process and always look forward to reconnecting during the ForColumbia season.

This year, our team has worked hard to connect with every Christian church in Columbia over email and phone. We are excited to have new churches joining us for the first time!