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My Community: Service Opportunities

Service Opportunities of FUMC connect us to the community in which we live. For more information or to learn how to get connected contact the church office at (616) 451.2879 or

ACCESS County-Wide Food Drive ACCESS of West Michigan has facilitated the County Wide Food Drive for many years and in that time has collected up to 100 tons of food annually for over 60 Kent County food pantries. Every month, these pantries provide over 20,000 food services to individuals who find themselves with no other place to turn for help. In recent years food collection amounts have dwindled so ACCESS is seeking new ways to expand the food collection to get critically needed food and personal care items into our pantries. Here are some ways members of First Church can get involved:
  1. Paper bags will are distributed the end of September. Take a few bags home, fill them up with food and personal care items, and bring it back the first Sunday in October. Suggested items include: cereal, soup, rice, canned fruits & vegetables, canned meats, pasta & sauce, peanut butter, soap (dish, laundry, bar), toilet paper, diapers, shampoo & conditioner, toothbrushes & toothpaste. All First Church donations will go to Westminster Food Pantry, our neighborhood distribution pantry.
  2. Volunteer throughout the secong week of October at local grocers to help us collect food. ACCESS will coordinate time and place. Sign up through ACCESS by email at
  3. Pray for the volunteers as well as the pantries receiving the food.
Family promise (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network) is an unique organization of churches and synagogues responding to the growing need to provide emergency shelter, meals assistance, and compassion to families without homes. Founded in 1986, this program has spread across the country and now includes over 70 networks with 70,000 volunteers from 2,000 congregations. The Greater Grand Rapids Interfaith Hospitality Network opened its doors in July, 1997. First Church was one of the original host churches. host churches provide homeless families with basic human needs -- shelter, safety, and sustenance. Churches and synagogues become temporary "homes" in which families are treated as guests of the congregation. We participate with other churches in hosting up to five families who are temporarily homeless. They call First Church home for a week. Volunteers opportunities include providing an evening meal, fellowship, play with the children, and spending the night at church with the families.
Heartside Community perishable food distributions are held several times each year using food from Feeding America West Michigan, at Cesar Chavez Elementary (1205 Grandville St. SW 49503). A tradition on Christmas Eve morning is our breakfast where patrons are served a free breakfast, and leave with a gift of warm socks, stuffed with personal care items, a hat, gloves and "goodies."

Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) program initiated by the General Board of Global Ministries in 1999 has served thousands of immigrants throughout the United States. The United Methodist Community on Relief (UMCOR) sponsors the program with 24 clinic sites operating nationwide. JFON-West Michigan was formed in 2004 with a site hosted at First United Methodist Church of Grand Rapids. In 2005, a second site hosted by First United Methodist Church of Holland was opened. The JFON program brings professional immigration law expertise to West Michigan. The JFON organization supplies a service not available at most refugee service centers. JFON is able to provide professional legal counseling for immigration matters at no cost to the client. More information is available at

Martin Luther King Leadership Academy Partnership is an inner city elementary school. The purpose of the MLK/FUMC partnership is to help every first grader read at their grade level. Volunteers tutor children on a one on one basis. The results have been overwhelmingly positive for everyone involved. Volunteers and funding are provided for a wide variety of school programs including: a student publishing center, library story time and check out, MEAP math activities for all third and fourth graders, homemade cookies for special events, winter coats and school clothes, family mentoring, science fair and MEAP support. Volunteers are needed for all areas. Click here to learn more and volunteer online.

Methodist Connection is an exciting partnership between First Community AME Church, First United Methodist Church, and St. Luke AME Zion Church -- all located in downtown Grand Rapids and committed to the city. We have been building relationships among the members of these churches, all in the Wesleyan tradition, and continue activities to promote reconciliation.

Work Program The First United Methodist Church Work Program creates short-term hourly employment in the central city area. Striving to be an agent of Christ’s love we provide underserved members of the Grand Rapids community a means of earning a small measure of financial independence thereby contributing to their sense of dignity. Clients Work two hours at one of our agencies in the Heartside neighborhood and earn $15 cash. Click here to view the brochure.