Jesus repeatedly emphasized that we must be “doers” of the Word, and not hearers only. Ocala First members and friends not only support the Church with their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness, they also support numerous missions and outreach ministries in the Ocala community, the region, and the world.
Tuesday Morning Ministries
Each Tuesday in our Family Life Center, a team of wonderful servants welcomes 150-200 homeless and hurting individuals into our Family Life Center. Beginning with a short time of worship, we provide a good lunch, fresh clothing and toiletries, haircuts, bread, a bike distribution and repair center, assistance in obtaining birth certificates and other identification, and legal assistance. We also offer a kind listening ear, and lots of prayer and encouragement to anyone who comes.
Interfaith Emergency Services – Ocala First joined in this community partnership with other churches many years ago, and continues to provide financial and volunteer support. Many church members currently serve or have served on IES and the IES Foundation board of directors. Interfaith provides food, shelter, prescription medications, and other support to those in critical need. It also sponsors a Backpacks for Kids program to ensure that area school children are not hungry on weekends and when school is not in session.
Marion County Schools Homeless Program
FUMC is actively involved in providing food, school supplies, and volunteer support to homeless children and their families. Our children’s ministry works closely with the program to assess needs and provide help.
Open Arms Village
Our church has provided critical leadership to the development of the Open Arms Village, a ministry to the homeless that will provide shelter, services, and support. We are excited by this joint venture, which has brought together the City of Ocala, area churches, law enforcement, medical and mental health providers, and the school system to address comprehensively the issue of homelessness in our community.
Habitat for Humanity
Our church has provided resources and leadership to Habitat for years. We recently built two Habitat Houses and many volunteer weekly so that folks in need will have affordable housing.
Our church was a pioneer in TV ministry and has been televising worship services since the early 1970’s. A dedicated team of camera operators, sound folks, producers, and editors develop the weekly telecasts, which provide vital ministry to shut-ins, the hospitalized, the incarcerated, and those who may never set foot in a church. We receive letters from folks throughout our area, from prisoners (even one from death row), and from homebound watchers who depend on this telecast to connect them to our church.
Kairos Prison Ministry
A large team from our Church regularly goes into Marion Correctional Institution as part of Kairos, a ministry that introduces/reminds prisoners of the amazing love and grace of Jesus Christ. We also have women’s teams that go in on a less frequent basis. Most of the folks who are part of this ministry have been on a Walk to Emmaus, which has long been a vital part of our church.
Ocala First Preschool
We take pride in our preschool, which has received the United Methodist Association of Preschool’s Gold Seal accreditation. Whether you’d like to read to our children, help with chapel time, work on special events, support the scholarship fund, or serve on the preschool board –there’s something for you to do!
Disaster Recovery Ministry
This team stands ready to help and works with our United Methodist connectional system to respond with disaster relief as needed. Most recently the team has been on trips to Alabama to continue repair work on tornado damage.
The Florida United Methodist Children’s Home
We are a long-standing strong supporter of the Children’s Home in Enterprise, FL (near DeLand). Originally an orphanage, the Children’s Home now cares for orphans and victims of abuse, abandonment, and family breakdown. The Florida United Methodist Children’s Home has blossomed into a diverse ministry that includes residential care, therapeutic group care, foster care, emergency shelter care, independent living assistance, and a community child care center. Learn more about it at www.fumch.org.
Regional Youth Mission Trips
Service and outreach are important to our youth group, which travels throughout our region helping those in need. Recent trips have been to serve in Quincy, FL, at the Hinton Rural Life Center in North Carolina, and in Barwick, Georgia.
New Life Center, Zambia
We have worked closely through the years with our missionaries in Kitwe, Zambia, Africa, Rev. Delbert Groves and his wife Sandy. Our next team will be in Zambia in August 2013. The New Life Center, established in 2001 through Delbert and Sandy’s efforts, has grown into a resource for the young United Methodist Provisional Conference of Zambia. It has numerous outreach ministries, including New Life Press, health education, PET Zambia (handicap bikes for mobility), a learning and computer lab, English instruction, instruction in new church construction, and other training ministries. Additional information is available online at www.NewLifeZambia.com.
Community Partners (COPA), Dominican Republic
Another long-standing missionary partnership exists with Ms. Connie DiLeo, an ordained deacon from Florida and missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries, who is director of Community Partners (COPA), which operates schools and clinics in an acutely poor section of the Dominican Republic. Connie has long worked in Bombita (a town of immigrants from Haiti) and is now developing a church in LaHoya (which Is mostly Dominican with some Haitian immigrants). A team from our church worked with Connie in the Dominican in 2010, and we continue to support her work there.
Other International Missions
For the past several years, we have supported the mission work of Larry and Debbie Drake, missionaries to Peru out of our church. Several teams visited the Drakes and worked at orphanages in Peru. The Drakes have completed their current project and are now back in the United States. Our church also sends youth teams out each year; for the past several years they have worked at United Methodist missions in Costa Rica.