On a warm Wednesday evening, over 70 people from across 16 different organizations came together for a night of worship at the Hernando County Courthouse steps. The courthouse prayer service functioned as part of a week-long stay-at-home missions trip the church calls City Week. This event provided students from the sixth to the twelfth grades with a night of fellowship and fun. Even more members of the community came out to support the event or simply to see what City Week was about. Organized by student ministry Pastors Chris and Annalisa Fullam of Graceworld Outreach Church, this is the fourth year out of the last five that they have been able to hold the event. Their goal was to bring as many churches together from across Hernando County and to pray for the community. According to Chris Fullam, this event saw its seeds sown on a mission trip to Miami.
“It started where, several years back, we did a missions trip to Miami when we first moved here to be the student pastors at Graceworld,” Fullam said. “So, I took like 11 students with me, and the price to do that was astronomical. When we were down there, our students said, ‘What’s stopping us from doing this at home in our community?’… So, out of that, it just kind of birthed this whole process of we don’t have to go all over the map.”
Before the service started, the students and youth leaders met for prayer on the courthouse steps. The Ascend student ministry worship team then kicked the night off by leading the crowd in praise through music. Throughout the night, members of different Christian organizations took the time to pray for law enforcement, the military, the city, and the nation, among others.
Graceworld partnered with many organizations to make the week-long event happen, but a pair that Annalisa singled out were Nature Coast Outreach Center and Immerse the Nations, which had been helping the church out all week.
While the Boys and Girls Club and Jericho Road Ministries provided their assistance on Thursday, the outreach pastors are also looking for other churches to help when it comes to their respective communities.
“We’re going to really hope to get all the churches in our district involved to be pretty much going into their city and just taking that challenge on,” Annalisa said. “I’m going to go see the need in my city and… do something about it. That’s what we want the students to walk away with- is really seeing that there is a need in their community and that they don’t have to wait to grow up or have a career to make a difference, that they can do something now about it.”
While functions like these are inspiring, if they are happening in a vacuum and not having a tangible impact on others, it could be hard to gauge just how effective these intra-county mission trips are. The Fullams recounted a story where, thanks to City Week, a woman who was living in a shed without running water or electricity found a suitable place to live within weeks of attention being brought to her living conditions.
The students’ passion for fellowship and serving the community was overflowing on Wednesday night. The Sun had the opportunity to ask members like Matthew Kerr what led them to join City Week. A leader among his church peers, Kerr travels an hour and a half to attend Graceworld and the events they hold.
“I definitely have a heart for reaching the community,” Kerr said. “This week is a very good opportunity to do that. Me, personally, I do live very far away from my church and this community… It’s also great to lead other kids into that kind of mindset of helping out wherever you can and spreading the love of Jesus wherever. That’s mostly why I’m here.”
As the youth pastors had been building this program, this was the first year they had gotten other churches involved. Looking towards next year, the Fullams and Graceworld Outreach Church would like to continue to expand the event by adding even more participating churches and ministries to their growing list.