Saturday, December 16, 2006

God's love in action: Sip of water puts name on church's mission

Dec. 16, 2006
By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

In Texas heat, thirst tortures.
For that dry, thirsty mouth, that first sip of water is a gift.
That's why the leaders of Christian Life Church in Temple say they frequently volunteer to distribute bottled water during public events.
'People were thirsty,' said Kathy Gillis, wife of CLC Senior Pastor Rick Gillis. 'They needed something to drink. So we gave it to them.'
In a nutshell, Mrs. Gillis said that idea is at the heart of CLC Temple's mission to share God's love in practical ways.
'That's what we do,' Mrs. Gillis said. 'We look for needs in the community, and then we go out and meet them.'
Pastor Gillis is the one who coined the term 'sharing God's love in practical ways.' There was no brainstorming effort or slogan committee.
'He was just thinking out loud one day while he was in the church office,' his wife said. 'He was trying to come up with ways to serve the community. And those words came out of his mouth.'
That revelation of sorts happened in mid 2003, the first summer CLC Temple distributed water bottles to the crowd at the local Fourth of July celebration.
Since then, the church has provided thousands of bottled waters for a variety of outdoor public events, including cancer walks and concerts.
The water bottles don't have commercial labels. Instead the special-ordered labels read 'CLC Temple,' printed according to the style of the church logo.
CLC Temple's 'Monthly War on Debt' is another way the church shows God's love in practical ways.
'We take up a special offering every week for families who have financial need,' said Marcellus Atkins, associate worship pastor. 'Then at the end of the month, we draw someone's name from a hat and that month's special offering goes to that family.'
The chosen family does not receive the offering in cash, though.
'They come up to the church office with their bills, and we help them get their debt knocked down,' Mrs. Gillis said. 'That's an opportunity for a family to get a debt situation under control. Very practical.'
Serving the military through their Deployment Ministry is another way for CLC Temple to fulfill its mission.
'We send packages of things they might want,' Atkins said. 'We send prayer notes and words of encouragement.'
The Deployment Ministry is an ongoing project for the church.
In November, CLC Temple surprised a member of its congregation with a freshly painted house on his homecoming.
Daniel Quick of Salado returned to wife Carrie on Nov. 18, after serving almost 13 months in Kosovo as a major in the Texas National Guard.
'While he had been away, the house was weathered and worn,' Mrs. Gillis said. 'Their house is one that always needs to be painted for it to look nice.'
So, the church congregation opted to spruce it up themselves. Ron Carol Surveyors of Salado provided the materials needed for the job.
'The Quicks are a vital part of our church family,' Mrs. Gillis said. 'Putting a fresh coat of paint on their house was a way to help, a way to show we care.'
The service activities of CLC Temple seem innumerable. Atkins, the associate worship pastor, almost ran out of breath as he tried to list them all.
This month, CLC Temple children sang Christmas carols for senior citizens. In October, the church had a fall festival as 'a safe alternative to Halloween.' And when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, La., the congregation raised more than $10,000 for reconstruction efforts, manpower and sheetrock.
'There are just so many practical ways to reach out,' Mrs. Gillis said. 'Find a need. And meet it. That's what we do.'

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