As thousands of people arrived in Bellingham, Wash., to watch teams ski, bike, run, or paddle in the annual Ski to Sea Race, 40 volunteers from Mosaic Church and The Table were on hand volunteering. Both congregations are planted by the Christian Reformed Church.
Volunteers spent their Sunday morning on the mountain bike course, directing racers around crossroads and sharp turns while maintaining biker and spectator safety.
“This is the single largest event in Bellingham,” said Matt Atkins, pastor of Mosaic, “Churches don’t typically participate. We said from the beginning, ‘Let’s find a place to serve.’”
Sometimes the transition from one leg of the race to the next can be chaotic. The racer has to take an electronic band off and switch from a canoe to a bike while swiping an electronic card. In the past, church volunteers have dealt with cold, slushy rain. “We’ll take the job nobody wants and we’ll go out and serve,” said Atkins.
Fourteen people from the church plants were race participants, and three of those racers were on the mountain bike leg. Dale Mc Murterey, a member of Mosaic, said, “We see their faces and it makes them feel good. They can say, ‘My church is out there and volunteering and serving the community.’”
“The biggest thing is engaging and celebrating with our community. Saying ‘we are a part of Bellingham.’ We care about what is important to other people in our city,” said Atkins.
This is their seventh year volunteering at the race. It is part of their “Beautify Sunday” ministry. Once a month, instead of a regular worship service, church members serve within the city of Bellingham in practical ways.
“As we drive to the event, we pass many churches in the Bellingham area. Why aren’t other churches doing this?” asked McMurterey. “Why do we still believe as churches that the place to be is within the four walls rather than bringing the community together in that fashion?”