Denville Community Church Spreads Warmth During Holidays

By Evan Wechman

 

This past Christmas many children and adults exchanged gifts with family and friends.  However, at the Denville Community Church (also known as The Church of the Open Door), Emma Worrall wanted to do something beautiful and kind for people who were going through tough times and didn’t have any presents.

 

Worrall, who is the Coordinator for Children, Youth & Young Adult Ministries for the church took it upon herself to serve those who she felt needed comfort and aid.  This was her idea, but one that began about 20 years ago.

 

“Something happened when I was 13 where I wanted to bring blankets to people who were experiencing homelessness in New York City, so that’s what I did then,” Worrall says.  “But now I was trying to figure out how we as a church, specifically with the ministries I work with, how we could do more outreach service projects.  And I thought of this idea again, and I wanted to do it Christmas morning because it (Christmas) has turned a lot into what presents are people getting.”

 

Worrall also says she wants to remind people that Christmas is about Jesus who preached love and was hoping her congregants would hear this message.  This turned out to be exactly what happened as many church members showed up in the last few weeks before Christmas with either new or gently used sleeping bags for those who needed warmth and love.

 

During the early hours of Christmas morning, she and her team went into Manhattan, with no predetermined plan other than to spread love to those in need.  They first went up to people in line to get into a shelter and asked if they would like a sleeping bag.  Those they approached smiled and exchanged greetings. However, just to do a little something extra since it was Christmas, Worrall and her friends gave out candy canes and ten-dollar Starbucks gift cards to the recipients as well.  After, they walked throughout the busy streets of Manhattan meeting people who were laying down on the sidewalks and offering them sleeping bags and presents.  

 

“I pray the students might make this a tradition, to honor Christ when we celebrate his birth by attempting to take Christ’s teachings to heart,” Worrall says.

 

She is not close to being finished with the church’s outreach efforts.  This coming April, she is leading many of her young congregants in a Read to Roof program with the Heart for People Foundation which is helping schools in Uganda serve financially insecure students.

During this fundraiser, Worrall’s students will be securing financial pledges based on how many books they read during an approximately six-week session.  The money raised will go towards building dormitories for the schools that are partnered with the Heart for People Foundation.  The fantastic feature which Worrall takes a lot of pride in is that most of the students who will be housed are either affected by HIV or are Sudanese refugees who have traveled hundreds of miles to reach their destination.

Worrall is confident the church will continue with meaningful outreach projects. “A huge part of the curriculum I have been doing with the kids and youth is not only learning about scripture and Jesus’ teachings, but also learning about how we can put our faith into action,” she says.

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