OTTUMWA — Three United Methodist congregations in Ottumwa are in the process of merging and finding a new home. This weekend was a major step in that direction.
Saturday’s church auction outside the First United Methodist Church found residents gathered to buy sofas, books, games, china, toys, electronics, musical instruments and many other items. Residents also had the option of going to the second and third floor to look at more.
Attendee Joe Brummell was excited to be at the auction but also overwhelmed by the amount of choices. “I wanted to come just out of pure curiosity,” Brummell said. “I liked all the items I saw and hope the auction does the church good.”
Volunteers representing Grace Ottumwa were hard at work. Brooke Fishchels, the main event organizer, said it took several months to plan. “We put together a team that took inventory of all the types of items we had and made the tough decisions on what to keep and sell. Having this auction took a big leap of faith.”
Another volunteer, Carol Ryon, said there was an important lesson in letting go of so much. “This auction is a lighting of a load,” Ryon said. “We all have these things that weigh us down in life and it seems to be getting free. I’m excited, where are we going from here — I don’t know but it’s OK.”
On the day of the auction, 50 to 60 volunteers got up before the crack of dawn to arrange all the items for the auction. For Fischels to get up and volunteer for most of the day was worth doing not because of how much she hoped Grace would raise, but because Fishchels and volunteers wanted their church to grow.
“Getting up to volunteer was worth it because of the sense of camaraderie people get,” Fishchels said. “The proceeds will go to build and renovate the space. It allows us to go out and pursue our vision, the work we were meant to do, which was to go out and share the good news.”
“We’ve been waiting for the auction and now we can really focus on growing Grace,” Debbie Bratten a church volunteer, said. “Using our gifts to help the community to reach out to people. We are striving to be Jesus — the hands and feet of Christ for our community in the world helps with growth. The need is there for people to see Christ and believe they can see him in our church.”
For Ryon, this auction was a stepping stone. “Everything will be used for Grace,” Ryon said. “We hope we get to bless people with the items. Hopefully Grace is built more on things and more on what God calls us to do. We’re jumping on the deep end.”
Ryon not only thought of this auction as a stepping stone, but also allowed her to ponder what Grace as a church will continue to look like.
“We need to focus on people, inside and outside the church,” Ryon said. “We want our focus to be out in the communities and how we can bless others in the community and reach others for Christ. What is our purpose? That’s to share the gospel.”
Chiara Romero can be reached at email@example.com.