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And the valley will be blessed

n Christ Lutheran Church gives back to community

Posted: October 17, 2008 8:43 p.m.
Updated: December 19, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 
Christ Lutheran Church in Valencia is reaching out to under-appreciated individuals in the Santa Clarita Valley.

This month, all the teachers at McGrath Elementary and Newhall Elementary schools received gift baskets on their desks with a note reading, “You are being thought of and we are praying for you today.”

“The ladies from the church just showed up and had gift baskets for every teacher, and we were surprised and so appreciative of the kindness of the church,” said Larry Heath, principal of McGrath Elementary.

“We have a very small PTA and our community is not able to provide those kinds of gifts for classroom teachers, and so the contributions were much appreciated.”

The gift distribution was just the beginning of the church’s Community Blessing series, which aims to recognize men and women in the community who provide various services.

Being a blessing
So far, the church has blessed educators and individuals in the entertainment industry. Currently, participants are making their way to civil workers and health-care workers.

“We’re never going to do things to evangelize people or proselytize them,” said Pastor Dan Parr of the church. “We’re going to do things that cause people to ask, ‘Why?’ And the answer is ‘Because you are loved by God as God loves me.’”

A large box was set up in the foyer of the church, and members have generously and consistently been filling that box with gifts for distribution.

Pastor Parr parallels the givings with a corresponding message on Sundays highlighting the spiritual significance of reaching out to various members of the community.

Reaching out
“It touches people very deeply to not be overlooked,” Parr said. “It is the hope of this community to be actively reaching more of the community for Christ, and actions of love, care or blessing are hopefully a physical reminder of the love and care that God has for all people.”

At each service, Parr calls upon members of the occupation of the week to stand, and the congregation prays over them. The Sunday prior, the pastor will encourage church members to bring friends, co-workers and neighbors who are employed in the field that will be honored that Sunday.

Saying ‘thank you’
Lisa Kennedy, a teacher at Valencia Valley Elementary School, recalls standing during the service as teachers were recognized.

“It was great,” she said. “The whole service seemed like it was about teachers.

“When Pastor Dan had us all stand up, it was really neat to see that so many people are teachers in some way,” she said.

“A parent whose child is now in college came up and gave me a hug and said, ‘Thank you for teaching our kids.’”

Christ Lutheran Church is 45 years old, but Parr said this is the first time the church has done this outreach.

The idea came about after Parr met three other Lutheran pastors in seminary.

“Three out of four of us are now doing this event, always with a gift for the community,” he said.

“It’s always great to be part of reaching out to the community,” said Debbie Price, outreach coordinator for the church. “We do this just because Christ loves us, and this is what he commands us to do.”

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