Church reaches out to hurt firefighter
Church reaches out to hurt firefighter BY K. SCOTT KREIDER, Correspondent
On Easter Sunday one Mount Joy church will celebrate Christ's Resurrection by lending a helping hand to a firefighter who was seriously injured trying to rescue a woman and a child from a February house fire.
The congregation of St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Mount Joy was so moved by the story of Lancaster city firefighter Lt. Andre Kelley that it chose to donate $1 for every person that attends its three Easter Sunday services to Kelley and his family.
"It's a ministry outreach … we're calling 'One for One'," senior pastor David Woolverton said in an email. "It's all based on my message for that day, which will focus on the Gospel of John 15:13: 'No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.' "
Kelley was injured on Feb. 18 while attempting to save a woman and a child she was baby-sitting from the blaze. Pauline Stone and 6-year-old Leilani Roman died in the fire.
Kelley was rescued by other firefighters. He suffered burns over 45 percent of his body, and has been treated with multiple skin-graft surgeries at Crozer-Chester Medical Center since the incident. His condition was recently upgraded to stable, but he still has a long road to recovery.
That kind of personal sacrifice, Woolverton said, is like the sacrifice Jesus made.
"While we believe that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, the message is really much more personal than that: He died for me, he died for you, one for one," Woolverton said. "Kind of like what inspires a firefighter to risk his/her life by running into a burning building to save just one person."
As Kelley's wife, Lyondra, takes off work to be at his side, that lost income along with mounting expenses for the couple and their two children creates a real need, Woolverton said.
"We believe we are called to meet a need, and whenever you meet a need you touch a life, and when you touch a life you can change the world," he said.
St. Mark's has a long history of ambitious outreach ministries to meet their community's needs, according to Woolverton, such as addressing hunger, tackling poverty and supporting community groups such as the police and fire departments.
Last Christmas the church donated all of its Christmas Eve offerings -- $9,300 -- to the rebuilding of Mount Joy's Joy Land playground. The wooden playground was destroyed in a fire police say was started by two teenagers in September 2012.
St. Mark's also is a big supporter of Mount Joy Helping Services, a cooperative ministry that includes a food bank, a furniture bank and other services to help the hungry and homeless. The church began a food bank in Mount Joy years ago, Woolverton said, which later turned into Mount Joy Helping Services, which is now supported by most churches in the area.
"I absolutely love this church. This church has a real sincere heart for the community of Mount Joy and the surrounding communities," Woolverton said. "They have a heart for people, especially people who are going through crisis and brokenness."
Woolverton said this kind of outreach is how the active St. Mark's congregation shares its faith.
Woolverton is hoping a large crowd will attend on Easter Sunday so that there is plenty to give to Kelley and his family. Some have already donated money to the cause to add to the 'One for One' money raised, including Bishop Peggy Johnson, who oversees the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church.
"We believe and trust that God will bring to our Easter worship whomever God draws, and we will be thankful," Woolverton said. "We'd like to give at least $1,000 to Andre Kelley's fund."
St. Mark's holds three services on Sundays: a traditional service at 8 a.m., a contemporary service at 9:15 a.m. and a traditional service at 10:45 a.m.
Donations can be made payable to St. Mark's United Methodist Church, 37 E. Main St. Mount Joy, PA, 17552. Write "Kelley fund" on the memo line.
nSt. Mark's UMC in Mount Joy will donate $1 for every person that attends its 3 Easter services. Money will benefit Lt. Andre Kelley.