Cicero UMC takes on community projects

— One Sunday every year, Cicero United Methodist Church takes a break from traditional services and sermons and instead encourages parishioners to go out into the Cicero community and make a difference.

“It’s something that the United Methodist Church nationally started to remind us that sometimes we need to worship with our hands,” said Rev. Rebecca Laird, associate pastor at the church. “It’s not just about coming to a building and being here on Sunday morning and worshipping that way. It’s about more than that. It’s about taking the love that we get from that and going out into our community and using it to better our community and taking God’s grace and sharing it with anyone that we meet.”

The church held its fourth Be the Church Sunday June 2, conducting a variety of projects from packing goodie bags for the Military Appreciation Room at the airport to making lap robes for patients at Van Duyn Home Hospital to baking banana bread for the homeless to doing home renovations and garden projects for a Sudanese family on Syracuse’s North side.

“The Be the Church projects are a way for us to show God’s love out in the community,” said Diane Ilacqua, who co-chairs the event with Donnie Nugent every year. “Our participation has grown every year, with over 150 people signed up this year.”

Ideas for projects typically come from the church’s Community Outreach Committee, though some carry over from year to year. Every year, the church sends visitors to visit seniors at Malta Manor, the Cicero Senior Center and other senior homes in the area.

“When we’ve called people [at the senior homes, they say] ‘Oh, yes!’’ Nugent said. “They’re so excited about somebody coming to do something with them.”

The committee also tries to come up with new ideas every year. New this year are projects like “Love’s Laundry,” in which participants will visit the Colonial Laundromat and offer soap and quarters to people inside. The church has also been collecting goods to deliver to the Ronald McDonald House. Another rookie program: the “Fuzzy Car Wash” with partner agency the Cicero Volunteer Fire Department. The car wash will raise money to buy cat and dog food for area pet food pantries.

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