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Fort Worth First Congregational United Church of Christ has a unique way of celebrating months with five Sundays. “Fifth Sunday: We are the Church,” is a program each fifth Sunday that includes a special service where members volunteer in the community. The next fifth Sunday is in January.
“It began in response to several folks in the congregation commenting on how they’d like to do more hands-on mission work,” Rev. Katherine Godby said. The church also shares a program called “Room in The Inn” with South Hills Christian Church and the idea to do Fifth Sundays came from South Hills pastor and long-time friend, Rev. Dottie Cook, Godby said.
Room in the Inn is a ministry for the homeless where at least three churches in the 109 – First Congregational, South Hills Christian, University Christian Church and nine others in the city - provide hospitality and a safe place to spend one night during the coldest (December, January, and February) and the hottest (July and August) months of the year, according to the University Christian Church website.
The Fifth Sunday program, which began in the spring, happens every fifth Sunday with a special short service at the regular service time. Each fifth Sunday service has a different topic.
“For our first Fifth Sunday, the service was about why we help others, asking the important question about our own personal motivations, Godby said. For the second Fifth Sunday service we did something on the beautiful custom of Namaste, in which people greet one another with a slight bow, saying ‘The Christ in me sees the Christ in you.’ It’s an eastern tradition that many Christians around the world now use.”
So far, there have been two Fifth Sundays and each has been successful in helping the community, Godby said. Activities have included cleaning the kitchen and other jobs at Samaritan House for those with HIV/AIDS or other special needs, helping with the Westcliff Elementary School gardening project, and helping some of the church’s own older members who need help around their homes, Godby said.
For the most recent Fifth Sunday, Oct. 30, the members put together supplies for the church’s “Room in the Inn” ministry.
The church wishes to expand the program even further. Usually there are about 30 participants for Fifth Sundays of all age groups from the congregation’s 100 members, Godby said. But, she expects more participants as the program gets bigger.
First Congregational encourages people in the community to help.