Gift of the Heart School Bags

Today at worship at Bethany Presbyterian Church, we prayed with our hearts, minds, and hands. We had a participatory sermon when we stuffed Gift of the Heart school bags for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to distribute here in the United States, and throughout the world in case of disaster or violence that leaves school children without access to school and school supplies. International assistance is provided through Church World Service.

This is what the sanctuary looked like when we arrived this morning. Instead of the regular configuration of pews facing forward, the seats had been switched around and tables had been added. Each table had a printed responsive reading, and a scripture from Proverbs, extoling the virtues of Wisdom.

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Here’s the view from above.

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All the supplies were stacked on a pew at the back of the sanctuary.


Folks came in, and found “new” seats at tables – sitting somewhere they don’t usually sit.

The first part of the service followed our regular order of worship, with announcements, opening hymns, prayers of confession, scripture readings, and a very short reflection from Pastor Sarah.

Then we watched a short (about 5 min) audio/visual presentation about some of the places the school kits have been distributed in the past, and where they might be going in the future.

Sarah invited us to share our experiences of honoring God with our minds, as we began the process of stuffing the school bags.

10-12 bags had been pre-placed on each table, along with a “recipe” for what went in them.

1 — pair of blunt scissors (rounded tip)

3 — 70-count spiral notebooks or notebooks (total 200-210 sheets of ruled paper; no loose-leaf or filler paper.)

1 — 30-centimeter ruler (12″)

1 — hand-held pencil sharpener

6 — new pencils with erasers

1 — large eraser

1 — box of 24 crayons

1 — cloth bag, 12″ x 14″ to 14″ x 16″ finished size cotton cloth bag with cloth handles

The folks – young and old – proceeded to gather the ingredients, and stuff the bags.

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A very short time later, 100 bags were stuffed, and ready to be packed and shipped to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, care of Ferncliff Disaster Assistance Center in Little Rock, AR.

We prayed over the completed bags as we collected the offering and sang the Doxology.

Following the Prayers of the People, we sang our final hymn, and were dismissed to go and serve the world – especially the children, who desperately need our love and assistance.