Far West End Members Seek Evangelism as Lifestyle

Twenty-one experienced- and beginner-student sewers, including co-leader Dorcas Sweeny (left), display some of the 120 pillowcases they donated to a local nursing home.

Story by Tiffany Doss

Evangelism is a lifestyle. This motto drives many Potomac Conference Far West End church members to seek opportunities to help their Rockville, Va., community. Recently 21 eager sewing students spent an afternoon learning how to make pillowcases to be donated to a local nursing home. The ministry, dubbed “Bed of Roses”—as each pillowcase illustrated flowers—yielded nearly 120 cases to be distributed to residents on Mother’s Day.

“We do a once-a-month singing ministry at a local nursing home, and one member mentioned that she wanted to do something for the residents. That’s when Jillayne Hevener and I had an idea,” explains Dorcas Sweeney, co-leader of the project. “We’re both passionate about sewing and had been looking for a group project. We felt this would be a great introductory class and mission project.”

After receiving fabric donations from members, Sweeney and Hevener prepared stations in the church for ironing, cutting and laying out the pillowcases to be constructed. Sweeny says she expected 10 people to show up and was shocked when more than 20 arrived. She began by demonstrating basic “how-tos,” and once volunteers got the hang of it, some made six or seven cases. Sweeney says that aprons or totes may be the next item she teaches.

“My mother said sewing would come in handy,” Sweeney recalls. “She worked in a factory after she came from Cuba. Each Tuesday she would bring fabric scraps from the factory to the local Dorcas center located at the Adventist Spanish church they attended, and make dresses to be donated. The ministry meant so much to her that she said if she ever had a little girl, she would name her Dorcas. Ministering like this is part of my namesake.”

In addition, members donated 30 purses filled with personal items to two women’s shelters in the area and regularly volunteer to feed residents and family members at Doorways, a facility that provides an “at-home” feel for patients who need to be in close proximity to the hospital.

“I was visiting patients when I noticed the large kitchen where residents can cook their own meals,” explains Junnie Pagunsan, the pastor of Far West End. “I opened the pantry and refrigerator to discover that a lot of donated food was being thrown away because people didn’t have the time or energy to cook for themselves. We decided to use the food to prepare a homecooked meal once a month. On average we feed between 50 and 65 people.

“We are dedicated to our community and finding ways to introduce them to Jesus as their Savior. We want the work that God has placed in front of us to belt the Richmond Metro Area and beyond,” adds Pagunsan.