First United Methodist Church of Orlando is actively involved in many outreach ministries in our local community and the world. This involvement ranges from financial support to meeting specific needs to hands-on volunteer participation.
The Outreach Team at First Church coordinates many of these activities and wants to give everyone the opportunity to take part. We are all called to serve God in our community, to reach out to those in need.
“…let us love, not just in word or speech, but in truth and action” 1 John 3:18
Outreach is Christ’s love in action. Whether it’s hammering a nail with the Fuller Center for Housing, serving a meal to families at the Coalition for the Homeless, or joining a mission trip in Guatemala, outreach is our way of expressing Christ’s love through our actions.
To learn more or to get in touch, feel free to email us or call the church office at 407.849.6080.
Coalition for the Homeless
The Central Florida Coalition for the Homeless is the largest provider of services to homeless people in the Orlando area. On an average evening, there are over 600 people who spend the night at the Coalition, a number that includes 200 children. When someone stays at the Coalition, they have a case manager whose goal is to help them transition to self-sufficiency. To learn more about their programs, visit their website.
On the first Monday evening of every month, a group of volunteers from our church provides and serves a meal at the Coalition for the Homeless. They gather at approximately 5 p.m. to make sandwiches for the men staying overnight, and then serve dinner to those staying at the Center for Women and Families. If you are interested in hearing more about this or signing up to serve, please contact John Cant or our Outreach Committee.
Christian Service Center
Our congregation has been involved with the downtown Christian Service Center in Orlando since it began in 1971. There are a number of ministries that serve the community. Learn more at the Center’s website.
The Family and Emergency Services program at the Center helps over 8,000 people a year who face a time of crisis. They keep a food pantry as part of this ministry, which we help support through the Feed the Need ministry.
Fresh Start is a residential program for men at the Christian Service Center who are going through a time of transition. On the 17th of every month, our church prepares and serves dinner to the men in this program. The volunteers who prepare and serve the food also share the meal with the residents. If your family or group is interested in signing up for a month, email us.
We assist local families in need following natural disasters, have taken several mission trips to areas affected by disaster and make a yearly trip to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) facility in Louisiana. Ed and Gloria Lobnitz help coordinate our disaster relief efforts.
Feed The Need
Feed the Need is one way our whole congregation can respond to the problem of hunger and poverty in our local community. On the first Sunday of every month, we invite everyone to bring donations of non-perishable food items (no glass jars please). As we gather on the first Sunday to share in the sacrament of communion, where Jesus shares nourishment with all of us, we remember that we are also called to share with others in the name of Jesus. Here are the items that we collect:
- Canned meats
- Peanut Butter or Jelly
- Dry Milk
- Rice or pasta
- Monetary donations are also accepted
On the second Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m., the Feed the Need team meets to package donated food. These boxes are then distributed to four elementary schools: Ferncreek, Pineloch, Lancaster and Eccleston. Social Workers at these schools identify the most needy families, who then receive boxes of food. Other boxes are distributed to the Christian Service Center, the Salvation Army, the Coalition for the Homeless and the TB shelter run by the Health Care Center for the Homeless.
There is always room for more helpers in this ministry from shoppers and collectors to sorters and deliverers. If you would like to find out how you can help with this ministry, please email our Outreach Committee.
People from our church are actively involved in two local ministries, which aim to help provide affordable housing to those in need. These are the local chapters of the Fuller Center for Housing and Habitat for Humanity.
Fuller Center for Housing –
Central Florida Chapter
In 2008, a local chapter of the Fuller Center for Housing was formed. This is a ministry that was founded by Millard Fuller, who was also the founder of Habitat for Humanity. The mission is “God’s people helping God’s people in need.”
The local chapter of the Fuller Center for Housing is currently focusing on renovation projects of homes in need of repair. A large number of the people involved are connected with our congregation. They welcome others to join them. Work days are typically on Saturdays. If you are interested, you may contact Alan Jewell.
Habitat for Humanity
Our congregation has also had a long relationship with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Some of our members are team leaders with the Orlando chapter of Habitat for Humanity. The local chapter is currently working on a large project called Staghorn Villas, which will eventually be 58-town home condominiums. On their website, you can learn more and view the different opportunities to volunteer. If you are interested in talking with someone from our congregation who works regularly with Habitat, email our Outreach Team.
At periodic events IDignity provides Florida ID Cards, Birth Certificates and Social Security Cards with assistance from legal counsel. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is also available.
IDignity was created to help the disadvantaged in Central Florida overcome the difficulties of obtaining the personal identification that is crucial to enabling them to become self-sufficient. The need for such a program was recognized by members of five downtown churches who were unable to find a resource that provided such a service. This group developed a viable solution after meeting for a five-month period of exhaustive amount of research and interviews. A significant part of this solution was to expand the process that was conducted at Project Homeless Connect (PHC), which utilizes various agencies working together symbiotically. The agencies that IDignity events host are: the Florida Division of Drivers License, Orange County Health Department (birth certificates), Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, legal counsel and others. IDignity provides these services more often and also incorporates the particularly difficult task of obtaining out-of-state birth certificates.
The documents that IDignity provides are required to apply for employment or school, obtain access to most shelters, vote, seek help from many social service programs, open a bank account or cash a check, secure housing or overcome many other obstacles to becoming self-sufficient. For more information about IDignity please visit their website. We appreciate any support that you can provide through your service, your resources and your prayers.
(Interfaith Hospitality Network)*
We partner with Family Promise of Greater Orlando to support the local Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). This ministry is composed of host and support congregations that provide volunteers, overnight accommodations and meals at churches for three or four homeless families with children (maximum of 14 people) for one week at a time on a rotating schedule. First United Methodist Church of Orlando is one of the founding churches of the local Family Promise, established in July of 2003.
Family Promise focuses on keeping families together, using a comprehensive approach as its case managers seek permanent housing, employment, daycare, health care and other social services necessary to assist guests trying to achieve independence and return to mainstream life. Follow-up case management is also available.
Sewing for Others
Sewing for Others is a ministry that has been serving the local and world community for more than 15 years. The primary projects include clothing for the needy, lap robes (small quilts), school bags and other special projects. Volunteers gather on Wednesday mornings to work together, and there are a variety of tasks that can be done from home. For further information, contact Sue Cepull by email or at 407.859.0468.
Other Local Outreach Ministries Supported by First Church
Florida United Methodist Children’s Home
Children reside at the Children’s Home because of sexual abuse, other physical abuse, abandonment or because of family breakdown due to divorce, drug abuse, illness or death of a parent. There may be neglect, or conflicts that have made impossible a normal family life. A majority of referrals now come from pastors, family, schools, courts or other state placing agencies. Each child is evaluated to see if the program of the Home can be of help.
A special offering is collected by First Church four times a year (on fifth Sundays) to support the ministry of the Children’s Home. For more information about the ministry, visit this website.
To learn how our church is connected to the Children’s Home and opportunities to serve, contact our church liaison Abigail Johnston.
Open Hearts Family Services
A ministry of the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, Open Hearts Family Services foster care and adoption services to children and families in under-served communities. Click here to learn more about the ministry.
Outreach Love Tutoring Ministry
Outreach Love is a tutoring ministry for children from Fern Creek Elementary School. “Outreach Love” seeks to positively impact the lives of at-risk children and see them become all that God intended through tutoring, mentoring and teaching them to hope, dream and work to realize their potential. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities please contact Roz Mullen.
For a review of the program and First Church’s involvement see the Florida Annual Conference E-Review article “Orlando students, professionals join forces for at-risk kids.”