“Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.” We sang that during our first morning devotional as we prepared to get to work at Cass Community Social Services. Twenty-six of us then went to different sites to tackle our various “assignments.” I don’t know about the others on the Mission Team, but I found that simple song became one of those “ear worms” that keeps the song continually running through one’s mind. So as I spent my first day of work breaking down boxes to be fed into the baling machine prepping the recycled cardboard for sale, my brain kept singing, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.” It was a hot, dirty, and sometimes smelly job in the Cass Warehouse, but the Lord was there with our small team of cardboard box smashers and the group of adults with developmental disabilities who worked at their job of document destruction on the opposite side of the large room. Their job coach, Kevin, told us how he “accidently” went to church at Cass United Methodist Church twenty years ago and he has been part of their mission to these special-needs adults ever since.
The next day, hotter yet, I joined the painters on the third floor of the Scott Building getting it ready for supportive housing for homeless individuals. The dozen or so rooms had already been painted and beds and simple furniture placed in each. Our job was to paint the hallway and all the door frames. The rhythm of the song, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place” kept my paint roller moving up and down each wall while sweat dripped down my face in that hot, stuffy hallway.
The cover of the Cass Community Social Services’ 2015 Annual Report says, “Fighting Poverty Creating Opportunity.” Inside the pages the four key elements of its program are described: fighting “Hunger” with “Food”; “Illness” with “Health Care”; “Homelessness” with “Housing”; and “Unemployment” with “Jobs.” When you observe what folks are doing there, you realize how many have truly found opportunity to give back. At Wednesday Worship the choir that had visited St. Andrews this past summer, The Ambassadors, sang “God’s Been Good to Me” and thanked our Mission Team saying, “When you help us, it allows us to help others.” My ear worm kept my mind singing, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this Place.”
Dianne Stephenson, writer