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Instead of having a church service, the Joshua First United Methodist Church will help local residents with code compliance. After the city started cracking down on code enforcement, city officials realized there were some residents who needed help keeping their homes up to code.

One local church is mixing things up on Sunday.  

Instead of having a church service, First United Methodist Church of Joshua will help several residents keep up with code compliance.

In December, City Manager Josh Jones hosted a town hall meeting to educate and inform residents about code enforcement and the top issues the city has seen. During the meeting, several in attendance said some residents might be elderly, have health issues or not have the monetary means to keep their properties up to code.

FUMC Director of Discipleship and Outreach Ministries Nicole Hutchison contacted Jones in January to see if he knew anyone in town who could use help with code compliance.

“I thought about some of the people we have had to work with on some code enforcement issues and the struggles some of them have financially or physically that creates a situation were they want to comply but have a hard time doing so,” he said. “I thought it’d be a great way to solve two problems at the same time.”

Joshua Code Enforcement Officer Audrey Joiner said members of the church will be providing support to elderly, singles and physically and financially challenged residents.

“Some residents will have dead trees removed or tree limbs trimmed back, junk and debris removed and hauled off, house cleaning and even removing a honey bee hive that has been in a tree for four years,” Joiner said. “The church will also be removing a lot of litter from the city parkways/roadside.”

The project is called #LoveThe558 — the number representing the telephone number in Joshua.  

Hutchison said their goal is to live by their mission statement, “As committed Christian disciples of Jesus Christ, we will endeavor to love God, grow in grace and serve others,” also called “Love, Grow and Serve.”

“As we’ve tried to invite that with words and actions with the mission statement, we’ve been in conversation with our congregation and city on how we can put this mission statement to work,” she said.

About 125 people have signed up to participate. As adults work on different properties in the city, children will do arts and crafts at the church.

A group of adults will prepare sacked lunches to disperse to workers and cook dinner later.

Participants will meet at the church at 9 a.m. for breakfast, to check in and to receive project information. Dinner will be at 5 p.m. in the church’s gym, with worship at 6:30 p.m.

“We want to be Christ-centered people,” Hutchison said. “We’re not doing this because we have to do this, but because we want to. It’s definitely wonderful for [the residents]. It’s also wonderful for the church because we are living and breathing our mission statement. We want people to get out of their comfort zone.”

Joiner said she thinks the idea of the church reaching out to the community shows they really care about people.

“As for a volunteer, it brings out a sense of pride of knowing you helped someone that had no one else to lean on,” Joiner said. “This type of in-kind help can make a big difference in someone’s life, and that itself is very rewarding to see. Besides, you get to meet new people and make new friends while working and having fun at the same time.”

Hutchison said they hope to have the church event twice a year.

“This isn’t a one-time thing,” she said. “We’re also fostering that relationship with the city. When [Audrey] sees something that needs to be done, she can contact us and say they need help.”

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No morning service Sunday

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