A Ministry You May Never Have Thought About
OUR CHURCH IS COMPRISED of several pastors, assistants, and directors on staff as well as many volunteers that lead up front or operate behind the scenes. One person who faithfully serves during the week is Tom Panella, who spends an hour each week tidying up the sanctuary.
Tom and his wife, RoseMary, have attended WEFC for four years. A retired City of Hartford firefighter, Tom was asked by Colleen Smith a couple of years ago if he would help fill this role that Bud Miller had done for years. His work? Tom makes the pews clean, orderly, and welcoming for Sunday services. He goes to each pew, picks up bulletins or left-over items, straightens the hymnal and Bible, and replenishes the wooden pew holders with 3 offering envelopes, 1 Stephen Ministry information card, 1 “Do You Know?” tract, and 2 sharp pencils.
Most people who come on Sundays probably never think about someone taking the time to do this. “Maybe they take it for granted that it gets done automatically,” Tom suggests. He admits that before serving in this way, he himself, had never given it a second thought.
“People are usually pretty good at picking up after themselves,” Tom says. He has found water bottles and earrings.
“My wife gives me a hard time and turns over the pencils,” Tom adds with a laugh.
Tom takes all the paper items out and checks to make sure they are not marked up. Sometimes kids have taken them out and written on them before putting them back. Tom erases the ones that are not too scratched up or otherwise replaces them. He observes that when Stephen Ministry is presented during the church services more of their information cards are taken that Sunday.
This is not a glamorous job, but it is one small way that a member of our church family plays a role in providing a welcoming environment for all those who come to worship on Sunday mornings. If Tom stopped doing this job we certainly would notice.
Tom explains, “You just have to give back, you know? Just coming here to sing, it lifts your spirits. To listen to the sermon, Pastor Scott is so great, he talks about things you’ve never thought of before.”
Thank you, Tom, for your weekly dedication to making our sanctuary a welcoming place. It’s certainly something most of us had never thought of before.