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Cape church practices what it preaches

By Staff | Mar 4, 2016

Members of the Cape Coral First United Methodist Church will prove on Saturday that they believe in “loving your neighbor as yourself.”

That is when the 450-member congregation will take to the streets, the homes, and wherever else they are needed in the community for its ninth-annual “Operation Love Thy Neighbor” mission, which has grown to become one of the largest single-day service events in the area.

The mission projects for which these people have signed up for will be spread across the Cape Coral, Fort Myers and North Fort Myers, and the growth of the event has been such that other churches have started to duplicate it.

Pastor Jay Therrell said the purpose it to meet people at their point of need and offering them Jesus at the same time. He started the program when he became pastor eight years ago.

“The idea was to get the church to carry out its purpose and transform the community. Every year it has grown. This year there will be 40 ministry projects and more than 400 people doing them,” Therrell said.

The event starts at 8:30 a.m. with breakfast, prayer and the passing out of the event T-shirts, after which many of the groups will head out into the community to serve, with several staying on campus.

Among the projects will be with Special Pops, Special Equestrians, Habitat for Humanity and the Coast Guard station on Fort Myers Beach. There will even be a “drive-thru prayer” service and others will go to assisted living facilities and others serving active and veteran military members.

Those at the church will sew items for mastectomy patients in recovery and orphans in Haiti, among other things.

“We’ll also have folks go to Gulf Elementary and pick up there. We have groups going to the library branches and working with the media specialists,” Therrell said. “We have ministry projects for every ability, whether you’re active or homebound.”

On Sunday, the congregation will convene at 12:30 and have a celebratory lunch.

Therrell said some of the ministry projects end up becoming year-round ministries. There have been nearly a dozen of the nearly 30 they do that have become such through Operation Love Your Neighbor.

For Therrell, it’s about having your actions speak louder than words.

“There’s an old quote that says ‘Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.’ We will be preaching the love and grace of Jesus through our actions and hopefully through our words,” Therrell said.

To learn more about the church and the event, go to www.capecoralfirst.org, like them on Facebook or call the church at 542-4051.