This Church Got Its Two-Cents Worth!

Post a Comment » Written on May 22nd, 2007     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

MERCER ISLAND, WA (May 22, 2007) – One could say that members of Mercer Island Covenant Church are “putting in their two cents” when it comes to helping the local community. Or, some might say members have “put their own stamp” on the best way to reach out to others.

Timed to coincided with last week’s first-class postal rate increase, members of the church stood on the sidewalk outside the local Post office – located just across the street from the church – and handed out sheets of 20 two-cent stamps to passersby over a two-day period.

StampsThe two-cent stamps make up the difference between the former 39-cent stamps and the new 41-cent cost of mailing a first-class letter, says Jeff Palmberg, pastor of student ministries. The effort is part of the Ark Almighty campaign.

The campaign, which is tied in with the upcoming movie Evan Almighty, involves 45 congregations that became “partner churches.” Churches were chosen through an application process. Each church received $1,000 as seed money to serve their community in some way.

“They asked that we do one event in May and one in June and that they be either a giveaway or community service project,” Palmberg says. “They offered some ideas like paying for everyone’s’ donuts or coffee or doing some improvements at a local school in need of help. Other than that, they left it up to us.”

Palmberg said the idea came from a website maintained by pastor and author Steve Sjogren, who had suggested giving away stamps and Payday candy bars to people mailing their income tax returns on the deadline day.

“We didn’t end up doing it due to a couple of issues, but the stamp idea must have stayed floating in the back of our minds,” Palmberg says. “A few of us were brainstorming ideas and we hit on this one, since the rates had just gone up that day. We got excited about the idea and got out there first thing in the morning.”

Church members worked in shifts of one to two hours distributing 1,500 sheets of stamps. They displayed signs that read, “Free 2 cent Stamps” and “Help is Here.”

Some recipients initially were skeptical. “The most common response was, ‘Really? They’re free?’ That was followed by, ‘What’s the catch?’ ” Palmberg says. “We’ve said, we’re just sharing God’s love in a practical way.”

People’s reactions changed as they realized there was no catch. “One woman came up behind one of the guys and gave him a big hug, saying that everyone inside the Post Office is talking about how great this is,” Palmberg says. “One lady I spoke with said that she was going to tear her sheet in quarters and give them away to other people. It’s amazing how excited and happy people get – we made their day for 40 cents worth of stamps!”

The church plans on doing other activities as part of the program, which focuses primarily on matching needs and skills from people in the congregation. The church has a website under construction that will assist the process.

The movie is a sequel to the hit film Bruce Almighty. In the movie, Evan, portrayed by Steve Carell is newly elected to Congress. After moving from Buffalo, New York, to Virginia, his life is turned upside-down when God, again played by Morgan Freeman, appears and commands him to build an ark because of a flood coming upon the earth.

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