Daffodils brighten the day for hundreds of school employees in small Wisconsin community
McFarland UCC member Denny Blackmore and school district staff.
Anyone can do ministry at any time and make a difference. The members of McFarland United Church of Christ, in McFarland, Wis., believe that and lived it this week through a mystery mission that brightened the lives of hundreds of people in the small community of 8,000 just outside of Madison.
The idea for the mission started with tragedy and loss, but bloomed into something special that touched the lives of each employee of the local school district with a little love, a lot of compassion—and a delivery of hundreds of daffodils.
“It’s been an exceptionally difficult year,” said the Rev. Kerri Parker, pastor of McFarland UCC, explaining that the students and staff at the local high school have seen two classmates killed in car accidents, and a beloved coach is critically ill.
“I had the opportunity to be a part of the crisis team when the first student was killed late last fall, and I was in awe of the professionalism, preparedness and the teamwork I saw among the high school staff,” Parker said. “A few weeks ago, when another student died in a car crash, it raised all of those emotions in the community again, as you imagine. The very same week the high school hockey coach had a medical emergency while driving, and is hospitalized in critical condition and unresponsive.
Front office staffers at the school buildings.
“Also momentous in a community of this size, the school superintendent and high school principal both announced they were retiring after this year,” Parker added. “That’s a bucket load of change. We wanted to touch base with the staff in the district and recognize what they are dealing with this year.”
Added to the equation—finding a way to remember a much-loved sister of one of McFarland UCC’s long-time members. Her name was Mary Tucker, she came from Iowa to stay with her sister during cancer treatment in Madison, and was warmly embraced by the church community. She died on Feb. 8.
“Our congregation wanted to grieve in some way to remember her life,” Parker said. “Her sister Judy said she loved her flowers, loved to garden, and asked if we could bring daffodils to church on Sunday.”
Parker came up with the idea of also taking the flowers to all the local schools because Tucker was a teacher before retirement. She put the word out to congregants on Facebook about a mystery project and it took off from there.
With 380 employees in the district, the church set a goal of collecting 400 flowers, and the congregation of 140 people came through. The massive bouquet was displayed on the communion table on Sunday, Feb. 15, blessed in worship, and distributed to the schools on Tuesday, with a flower, and a note of thanks for each school staff member.
“It was so wonderful to see the smiles,” Parker said. “We got a lovely outpouring of thank-yous. It didn’t take a whole lot of resources or a whole lot of time, but we were able to make an impact on a lot of hearts. We had enough left over to put together a vase for Mary’s sister and she was really touched.
“This congregation is all about compassion,” she added. “Our tag line is, ‘A Church with Heart,’ and they live it every day. It’s occasions like this where it really shines.”
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