Sponsored by: Shandon United Methodist Church
Are you searching for something in your life? Is it lacking in meaning, or connections? Are you feeling untethered or alone?
In our fast-moving, disconnected world, it’s easy to find yourself adrift. For the New Year, why not resolve to reconnect – to meaning, people, faith, community, and service to others?
Why not head (back) to church?
Rev. Smoke Kanipe, senior pastor at Shandon United Methodist Church, offers these 4 areas of your life where church can fill the void:
1. Become Part of a Community
What is a church but a place for people who share values to gather in one place, open their hearts to God and find joy all together as one?
People seeking a place where they are known by name and loved just for being themselves can find refuge in any good church.
“You’re welcome as you are,” says Rev. Kanipe. “You’re a child of God.” He says there has been an influx of younger parishioners into his church who share a spiritual, social, and, in some cases, parenting bond with each other.
Although Shandon is a large church, people come to know each other through small groups, Sunday school classes, men’s and women’s groups, book clubs, and more.
2. Find Yourself in God
First and foremost, a church is a place to complete the search. Many people wander through life seeking satisfaction in other things, some destructive and others benign but ultimately unfulfilling. Perhaps that’s you. If so, it might be that connecting with God can help fill that hole in your heart and in your life.
Beyond that, worship is meditative. An hour each week of quiet can have value just on its own. Church is a place to think outside yourself about larger existential issues, join with others to contemplate gratitude for life, and find joy in small things and love of God.
3. Find Opportunities to Serve Others
Anyone who has volunteered to help others knows that the blessings of service increase the more of it you give away. Church is a great creator of service and outreach to congregation, community and beyond.
For example, Shandon offers myriad opportunities for members to help others right here in Columbia through a host of local charities, like The Family Shelter for homeless families with children. The church’s Youth Mission Project involves over 100 teens and adults in home repair for the people of Hollywood, SC. During the 40 years of this program’s existence, it has built as many sturdy relationships as homes.
Like many other churches, Shandon also conducts missions in developing nations. Working with a church in El Salvador, parishioners have helped build a school there and offer scholarships for children to attend. An ophthalmologist in the church established an eye clinic in Haiti. “Jesus spent a lot of his time with the last, least and lost,” says Rev. Kanipe, “and that’s what we do.”
4. Set the Tone for Your Children
Many people return to church after their children are born. They want a place for their children to belong and where they will create friendships and memories. Children are taught in church that they are special because they are created in God’s image. Church is also a place where children learn values like love, faith, honesty and charity that will guide them throughout their lives.
Like many churches, Shandon has a variety of educational, recreational and service programs for children and youth. “As they navigate the whitewater of adolescence, having spent time in youth group where they learn values and experience acceptance can be very helpful,” says Rev. Kanipe.
If you feel the calling, Shandon United Methodist Church is here for you. Visit them at Shandon-umc.org or just walk in the door at 3407 Devine Street in Columbia.