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Students showcase their "prayer bears."

The sixth-grade Sunday school class at Messiah Lutheran Church in Washington make "prayer bears" for the children in their congregation ― all part of their five-month campaign to raise awareness about water access around the world and support LWR's water programs.

Mission: Possible!
Sunday School Class Raises Big Bucks for Water

By Nikki Massie

Each spring the sixth grade Sunday school class at Messiah Lutheran Church, in Auburn, Wa., gets to choose a theme for the annual spring Mission Sunday ― a special Sunday when the congregation comes together to support a common cause. The class is in charge of hosting a breakfast and planning an auction to raise money for that theme.

But this year, the sixth graders decided they wanted to do things differently — and go out with a splash. Instead of planning a one-day mission focus, these motivated youth carried out a five-month campaign to raise awareness about water access around the world and support Lutheran World Relief’s water programs.

“Water struck a chord with the kids because it is real to them,” says Lori Revely, the sixth grade Sunday school teacher who has taught the class since kindergarten. “It’s in their lives in every way, shape and form so they can relate to needing water.”

The class started their campaign in January by hanging posters around the church and giving out water prayer cards to the congregations. By February, they were giving out “save the date” cards for the May 6 Mission Sunday and by March, another of the class parents had tye-died t-shirts that the class wore every Sunday leading up to the big event.

The class distributed coin boxes to encourage everyone to collect spare change. Members brought their coins back to church and emptied them into a large water container.

In addition to the traditional Mission Sunday breakfast and auction, the sixth graders held a carwash to raise money. They also sold raffle tickets for a special blue quilt, happily donated by the congregation’s quilting group.

“Our quilting group was really ecstatic that we were raising money for LWR. They work with the kids to make and donate LWR Kits,” says Lori.

When Mission Sunday came, the students were front and center, helping to run one of the day’s services. They led hymns, gathered the offering, handed out bulletins and even gave the children’s sermon. They also made “prayer bears” for the children in the congregation, in which they put an LWR water prayer card.

“The children worked very hard to make the day special,” says Revely, whose father, Larry Johnson, preached all three services of the day, speaking from his past experience working for LWR about the impact of LWR water projects around the world.

The money the children raised will help provide wells and boreholes, irrigation systems and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities.

And that meant a lot to students like Maren Gillette. When asked why it was important to raise money for clean water around the world she said, “Because kids are drinking bad water and they are dying from it.”

All in all, the children managed to involve nearly the entire congregation in pulling off one of the most successful Mission Sundays ever. While Revely is still awaiting the final tally on some of their efforts, she reports that the change boxes alone yielded $300 and the quilt raised about $500. She estimates that their efforts raised approximately $6,800.

“It was incredible, awesome Mission Sunday!" she says.

Nikki Massie is LWR’s Staff Writer.

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