Bible study group takes ministry to park, riverfront

Melissa and Haley Cooper

A weekly Bible study group from Riverside Park United Methodist Church took God’s work to the riverfront last month.
A group of 12 church worshippers picked up trash along the Haskell Co. riverfront on a Sunday afternoon in late September.
Group member Tina Parke explained how they wanted to move their ministry outside of the church walls and “reach out to our community.”
“We really were not sure what to do or where to start and then someone suggested we start in ‘our own backyard’,” Parke said. The group’s initial projects involved a monthly cleanup of nearby Riverside Park on the fourth Sunday of each month. The park cleanups gave the group an opportunity to move out of the church and into the outdoors.
The St. Johns River soon came into focus. Church member Brian Allen helped establish a connection with The Haskell Building and the group got permission to clean up a section of the river. On Sep. 30 the 12 volunteers came out for an afternoon of trash pickup along the banks of the St. Johns.
“After only a little over an hour we were able to fill up the bed of a pick-up truck with our bags of trash,” Parke recalled.
While the river cleanup was a “nice change of scenery,” she said the group still considers Riverside Park its home base.
“Park-goers really seem to appreciate a cleaner and safer park, especially for their kids,” she said.

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