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Cape pastor to serve as guest chaplain for the U.S. House

By Staff | Oct 24, 2011

A senior pastor from Cape Coral has been appointed by U.S. Congressman Connie Mack as the guest chaplain for the House of Representatives at the end of November.

Cape Coral First United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Jay Therrell will fly to Washington, D.C., Nov. 30 and offer the invocation for the House of Representatives when it goes into session for the day.

“The thing that is most important to me is the fact that it is honoring our church,” Therrell said about the appointment. “We have some phenomenal folks that work and serve our community. I really believe it is an acknowledgment of what they are doing and am excited for that reason.”

Therrell said he believes Mack is trying to commend his church for all the work that has been done in the community.

“Reverend Therrell has helped transform Cape Coral First United Methodist Church into a church that truly works for the betterment of the city,” Congressman Connie Mack said. “Through his church, the reverend and his congregation have fostered a spirit of service for the poor and those in need, the youth and children, and so many looking for spiritual fulfillment. It will be an honor to accompany Rev. Therrell to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to pray for our country, leaders and citizens at a time when we need those prayers most.”

One of the church’s community programs, Operation Love Your Neighbor, began in 2008 when Therrell and his wife were appointed to serve the church. This February will mark the fifth time the annual event has been held.

“It’s a way to get people out of the pews and into the streets,” he said.

Between 300-350 people go out into the community to do 20 different ministry projects that have helped in the thousands of folks since its inception. The project, he said, allows members of the church to see and meet people at their point of need.

“It broadens their horizon to see how many people in our community need help,” Therrell said.

Operation Love Your Neighbor has spawned into multiple ministries to year-round projects for many of the parishioners because of the enthusiasm they carried with them once they finished providing a helping hand during the annual event.

Another way First United Methodist Church reaches out to the community is through its new preschool program, which opened three months ago. There is currently a waiting list to get into the program. Therrell said the church hopes to receive its voluntary pre-K certification soon.

“We are trying to make it available to folks that do not have access to good quality care,” Therrell said. “We really view it as a ministry to the community.”

The program is available for lower income families who can obtain a voucher to have their kids attend preschool at the church.

In addition, First United Methodist Church also participates in multiple meals programs, with one program currently in the works of receiving pizza from the local Pizza Hut to distribute to folks.

At least once a month members of the church travel to the central campus of Grace Community Church to feed the homeless, along with working with Community Cooperative Ministries Inc. The church also holds food drives several times a year to either fill its pantry or donate to local organizations.

“We are honored that we get to serve our community,” Therrell said, adding that the church would love to have anyone come through the doors Sunday morning or anytime of the week.

Therrell said this year the church decided to add another program to the community efforts at Cape Elementary School, since it is the closest school to the church. He said members of the church go to the elementary school to read to the students and mentor them in the classroom.

Another component of the partnership, Therrell said, is providing 65 fully stocked backpacks to the children when school began. He said the backpacks were full of what the teachers were requesting in the classroom for the year.

The third part of the partnership entails obtaining a list from the principal of families in need physically that might not be able to afford shoes and clothes. This year a Christmas tree will also be set up at the church with names of students whose parents cannot afford to purchase presents.

Therrell said the names of the families will stay anonymous with only the principal knowing who the help goes to.

The biggest community service that the church provides is the annual Trunk or Treat on Halloween. Therrell said between 2,500 and 3,000 people show up for the event, which takes place from 6-8 p.m., Monday, Oct. 31. Thirty-five cars will be decorated during the event full of candy to offer to the kids.

“Families know it is a safe alternative than going to homes,” he said. “Their kids can have Halloween fun and it is free and safe.”

For more information about the church, visit capecoralfirst.org