First Covenant ACTS
From the beginning, God's plan has been that you will fulfill His purposes in community with other people ? people in your church family, in your small group, and in the world around you.
We were formed for fellowship, and it's only in community that we learn life's most important lesson – how to love.
That was the lesson being explored by members of Rancho Cordova's First Covenant Church
back in 2007 during a church-wide observance of "40 Days of Community."
The teachings of that period proved so motivational that members of the church looked about the Rancho Cordova community and said, "how can we be more involved."
The result? ACTS: Achieving Community Through Service, a ministry of First Covenant that has harnessed the idea that service within the community is a pathway to learning that all important lesson about love.
But even First Covenant ACTS coordinators Tom Jeske and Katie Nielsen had to be surprised when nearly 1,000 of their church members showed up on a sunny Saturday three years ago armed with rakes, paint brushes, tools and lots of energy.
By the time the sun had set that day, parks had been cleaned, yard work had been completed, roof leaks repaired and bathrooms put back into working order.
A contingent of 70, most of them teenagers, descended upon Hagan Park and painted, hammered, scrubbed and hauled all the signage and supplies needed to power the Rancho Cordova Fourth of July.
First Covenant worked arm in arm with the Rancho Cordova Kiwanis Club to find funding for home repairs for neighbors that would not otherwise be possible.
It was a one-day blitz that will not soon be forgotten by either the church brigades that fanned out in the community -- or the fortunate people who got a hand up that day.
That probably would have been enough for some organizations, but church folk are powered by something special. It's called faith.
So when it came time again to meet for an ACTS day, there they came again: clearing Folsom Boulevard of trash, and partnering with Weed and Seed to enter neighborhoods and help with clean-up projects. They spruced up the Cordova Lancers baseball fields, painting dugouts and bleachers.
Junior High Pastor Will Race mentioned the upcoming ACTS outing to the basketball team he coached at Capital Christian Center and was astounded when the entire team showed up to help build a garden at Mather Heights Elementary School, hauling dirt, blocks and timber with a vigor only the young and inspired can muster.
Over the past few years ACTS workers have painted the Cordova Food Locker, landscaped the Live Steamers miniature railroad and helped prepare for the Fourth of July.
And like a lot of things in Rancho Cordova, one good thing has had a way of leading to another.
During a recent ACTS clean-up of Folsom Boulevard, church members were so moved by the plight of homeless living in bushes along the light rail tracks they have joined with other churches which open their doors one night a month to provide a hot meal, dry place to sleep and other amenities to those who have absolutely nothing.
Tom Jeske, coordinator of the program, said "It's not always easy to roll out of a warm bed on a Saturday morning with the prospect of some unsavory chore stretching out before you." But he said "When the work is finally done, most report they loved every minute, displaying the kind of amnesia that sets in when you feel really good about something you have done."
First Covenant Church is not the only church in our town that does good work, volunteering to clean up messes, fixing what's broken or giving comfort where needed.
But they have set a fine example for the rest of us that taking steps in growing a life of purpose and meaning sometimes results in a sore back and getting your hands dirty.
Lives are touched, practical needs are met and people of faith become known for the love they show. A spiritual awakening that is desperately needed happens.
To our friends at First Covenant Church, thank you for showing true faith leadership by walking the talk and leading the way.
Our community is richer for it, and you inspire others to the same and more.
And that, my friends, is what it is all about.