Free for All

By Jennifer Taylor

Each year, thousands of people in the Peoria, Arizona, area experience the death of a family member—but only 13 percent attend any kind of church. Christ’s Church of the Valley extends the love of Christ by providing funerals for these unchurched people—at no cost to grieving families.

CCV senior pastor Don Wilson began the program and lead neighborhood pastor Bob Fesmire leads it.

“For many people, a death is their first experience with church, and it can involve a lot of expenses,” Fesmire says. “We have space dedicated to the services and provide the pastor, the music, and even the coffee afterward.”

But the outreach doesn’t stop when the funeral does. The 6,500 CCV members in the church’s 400 neighborhood groups en-sure ongoing support for the family in need.

“A few years ago we divided our area into 40 neighborhoods and began connecting our people by geographical proximity,” Fesmire says. “So when there’s a need, a neighborhood group is often first on the scene. These groups provide friendship, a listening ear, meals, and other practical help long after the funeral is over.”

The minister performing the service also schedules regular follow-ups, and the church holds services of remembrance for the affected families.

“People don’t know where to turn when they experience a crisis,” Fesmire says. “When you offer to serve them, no strings attached, it changes their impression of church and of the gospel. Many of these families have made CCV their home church.”

www.ccvonline.com

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Jennifer Taylor, one of Christian Standard’s contributing editors, lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Read her blog at www.christianstandard.com.

Do you know of a church breaking new ground or leading innovative ministry? Send a brief description and contact info to buzz@standardpub.com.

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