What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. (James 2:14-16, 26)
The good news is that the Allin Church is an example of the works that come from our faith. There are so many of you who, after receiving God’s blessings of grace, peace, and understanding on Sunday morning, share these blessings beyond the walls of this church through service, benevolence, and work. While The World does not always make space for our efforts in faith, it does not realize that our faith that is of Jesus Christ cannot be stopped, because faithful practice is the byproduct of our own worship and prayerful self care.
This month, we begin with church member/friend, Lisa Dwyer.
How long have you been involved with the Allin Church and in what capacity?
I started attending Allin Church about 10 years ago. I wanted to have a community based church experience for myself and for my children. Over the years, I helped out with Sunday school and I have been on and off the missions ministry/committee several times. Even when I was not on the missions committee, I continued to manage the Dedham Food Pantry volunteer process and I have run the Angel Tree Prison Ministry for 5 years. Another joy has been helping out with the Greens committee for the snowflake fair.
What faith informed work do you do outside of the church? In what capacity?
I feel like the idea of doing God’s work comes in many forms. Over the years, I have enjoyed different types of volunteer work that helped to impact those less fortunate than me, including volunteering at the Fisher House and working with the Dedham Junior Women’s Club to raise money for local charities. Most recently, I started working a full-time job in a behavioral health care company. Our program supports some of the most vulnerable people in our state. Little things like having a kind voice and a listening ear when people call our program tells them “you matter”.
Doing many behind-the-scenes tasks to support our team of care coordinators provides space for them to make a big difference with our members directly. Taking the time to publicly acknowledge hard work and celebrating the success of co-workers brings light and joy to a job that can sometimes be very dark and frustrating. I feel like this period in my life is filled with lots of small acts of kindness.
What is your favorite part of the work you do? Bringing a smile to someone’s face.
What is the hardest part? In general, my greatest challenge is to quiet my self-judging inner voice. Luckily going to church is a grounding reprieve and reminder to practice patience and forgiveness of myself and others.
What of your faith (scripture, practice) informs the work you do? What is the passion that makes this work important to you?
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I honestly get a lot of joy in being a support system to a team. Teamwork makes the dreamwork!
My thoughts on Lisa’s faith and practice:
It is my experience knowing Lisa both inside and outside of the church that she is far too humble to fully detail all of the work she does in the name of her faith in the power and practice of love. Indeed, Lisa exudes love – so much so that we both know we much find each other every Sunday (and some days in-between!) for “our hug.” Lisa’s love of life and creation clearly dictates all of her life, how she chooses to live, and what she offers of herself to those with whom she has contact.
As mentioned, for years, Lisa has run our Angel Tree program every Advent. Through this program she offers members and friends of the church an opportunity to buy gifts for families with at least one incarcerated parent/guardian. She is our contact and communication into the national organization, Prison Fellowship, organizes and then creates a beautiful “Christmas Tree” display of requested gifts, insures that all gifts are accounted for, and then collects, wraps, and delivers these gifts to the families. Those of us who have helped with the delivery understand the impact this program has on these families and their sense of worth and well being.
In addition, Lisa has been our go-to contact with the Dedham Food Pantry. For many years Allin Church has had a prominent presence among the volunteers of irreplaceable local organization, loving our neighbors in real, hands on, life giving ways.
I imagine that, if Jesus were living among us today, we would certainly find him actively engaging in ministry and miracle-making with both of these organizations.
Lisa is a gift of divine grace to our congregation simply by her presence. That she quietly and humbly leads us in service and love is a gift of ministry far beyond anything I could say on Sunday morning! Peace,