How did you come to Cypress UMC? Who invited you?
I used to visit Cypress UMC, in the early 90’s, when my nephew and his family were participating in various church events, so it was him who invited me. My mother moved from Ohio to be with me in 1995. She wanted to spend her last years being with me and being near her eldest grandchildren. So it was then that we moved to Cypress (near my nephew), and it was a natural fit to join Cypress UMC. We felt we ‘belonged’ right from the start. My mom was blessed to be part of CAPS (Community Activity Programs for Seniors) each Thursday, and we were both grateful to get connected to a wonderful adult Sunday school, and worship with my nephew, his wife and their boys each Sunday. It remains a joy to be surrounded by church family who remember my mother fondly, and who are sources of inspiration and loving fellowship in my daily walk.
Where have you volunteered at Cypress?
I’ve always felt called to raise my voice in song and have been part of various ensembles and praise teams over the years at Cypress UMC as well as joining the Festival Choirs on various Easter and Christmas celebrations. I’ve been involved in church finance roles in various capacities over the years, as a rotating term member of the Finance Committee, as assistant treasurer and then treasurer, helping with capital campaign follow-up efforts and now as lay leader to Finance.
Is there a particular ministry that is dear to your heart? Why?
Besides my obvious love of the music ministry, I am passionate about serving our Restorative Justice Ministries thru the Kairos Cookie Baking ministry. I started helping with the baking of hundreds of dozens of cookies for our twice yearly Kairos Weekends at the Darrington Prison Unit. Cypress UMC has been involved since Rev. Earl Bledsoe introduced some of the Cypress UMC men to this Interdenominational ministry to reach the lost or strayed in our prison system. The program itself has been active at Darrington Unit in Rosharon, Texas for over 20 years. Many of our men and women have spent weeks preparing to participate in the April and October weekends to be fishers of men for Christ. I help with the cookie baking effort on some Saturday mornings each spring and fall to provide the ‘sweet bait’ for our men to carry into the prison with their love and lessons of grace, hope, forgiveness and new life in Christ. There are many prayers that go inside the prison bars with our 1800 dozen cookies. Many wonderful testimonies and changed lives have resulted from the Kairos weekends and the various prayer-and-share visits to the prisons throughout the year. The cookie baking team looks forward to seeing new volunteers drop in to help on our scheduled Saturday mornings. We have a great time in the MAC kitchen and hope that the aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking and the laughter and fellowship – will bring us more new friends for this ministry. I’m looking forward to attending the closing ceremony of the October Kairos – it is always so moving and the one time during the event that women can witness the impact of the program from inside the prison walls. Being aware of the impact this ministry has made over the years, over the lives, makes me passionate to stay involved and encourage others to do the same.
Do you have a giving story on how giving to the church has impacted you?
While I grew up in the church with wonderful parental models of tithing, I didn’t feel the need to give from my first fruits, let alone to tithe or give beyond the 10%. After moving to Houston in the 70’s and starting life on my own, I didn’t find a church home…or a church that felt like home and for many years, my faith life was not nurtured by any regular participation in church life. I was really living my life ‘on my own’ instead of being led by God. It took some real life crises to draw me back into the fold. Those desperate days and being welcomed into a church that placed great value on Bible teaching, on congregation as family and the importance of small group accountability restored my faith as a ‘front and center’ focus for my life and matured my understanding of God’s call to give back to him of the fruits He has blessed me with. During those years, I grew in living my faith and giving by faith, until I reached the tithe. Not long after, I was blessed with bringing my mother to Texas and then in joining Cypress UMC…another church that places great value on Bible teaching, on congregation as family and the importance of small group accountability. And even more important, Cypress UMC allows each of us to grow further in maturity to not only tithe, but to serve in various mission opportunities to reach others for Christ…the great commission that extends each of us to grow beyond ourselves.
Where do you see God moving in this church?
God is working in and through our congregation to continue the maturing process in each of us in various ways. Each of us is stimulated to grow by different motivations and to grow in different ways and to meet God’s unique call for each of us. I see our church growing in understanding that we don’t all need to do things everything the same way, or serve in the same capacity or ministry, that truly hands and feet, eyes and ears all have unique gifts and purpose to the glory of God in his church. I see our congregation having an increasing desire to see others grow and mature in their faith and to enable it to happen to others, just as it is happening within us…but not necessarily in the same manner as in our own experience. This growing wisdom will enable Cypress UMC to evolve with our community and beyond it to the greater glory of God.
What other things about Cypress UMC do you love and why?
The people! From members to staff to clergy to newcomers. Of course they are the vital components of where God is moving, as I described above, but here I am talking about the people as wonderful individuals who have become expanded loving family and friends that improve my life by their presence in it, by the experiences and times we share together and by the caring support they offer and by the opportunities to befriend them in ways that help me become a more worthy person.
Debbi likes giving because she knows that mission and ministry
can happen better when there is more money to support it.