Turning Wine to Water in Columbia, Missouri

First Christian Church, Columbia, MO, recently hosted a "Wine to Share, Water for All" event. Rev. Jimmy Spear, Associate Minister at FCC, offered these reflections on the event.

It was the social event for spring at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in downtown Columbia, Missouri - an evening for friends to gather for good wine, food, and a great cause.

For a traditional 180 year old congregation in an historic stone church, for wine to be served at a church event, you’d think that Jesus would have to bring it himself.  Well, Wine to Share, Water for All changed that story for the good Disciples in Columbia!  With the story of Jesus turning water to wine as a backdrop, they threw a party that brought wine back into the story of Disciples helping others - providing clean water to those in need.

In its second year, over $1,700 was raised in two hours by close to 80 people ranging in age from 21 to 95.  It was a unique occasion giving folks the chance to dress up and come out for a fun social event not like any other church potluck or picnic.

The event started with the church’s World Outreach Department wondering how they might increase awareness and funding for Week of Compassion.  Someone on the committee noted seeing a fun idea on the Week of Compassion website - Wine to Share, Water for All.  The whole committee thought getting friends together over wine was a great idea!  

But could they invite the congregation?  Could they raise money?  How was a water project unique to Week of Compassion’s mission?  

That was more than a year ago.  Since then, in the spring of each year, First Christian Church has hosted Wine to Share, Water for All and raised over $3,500 for water related WoC projects.

The committee approached a local wine wholesaler to partner in the event by donating four cases of wine.  The pastor, who had an inside track on the cooking ability of church people, was able to identify 12 excellent cooks in the congregation that would be asked to bring quality appetizers.  There was neither processed cheese dip nor hot wings at this event.  The cooks were most delighted for the challenge of bringing their best.  Smoked salmon, unique cheeses, skewers of marinated vegetables, puff pastry delights, unique deserts, and one-of-a-kind dips. Rented wine glasses and classy decorations made the evening event a special affair.  

Jazz music in the background and uniquely decorated candlelit tables welcomed church members and their guests, dressed up for a night on the town, to a funky, cool building on the church property.  A great selection of wines were tasted and enjoyed, food and fellowship were shared.  The event was held from 7-9 p.m. with a brief word about the cause shared at 8 p.m.  This year Week of Compassion’s Brandon Gilvin was present to share the first-hand story of WoC water projects and needs.  Last year a Church World Service video and presentation on a successful water project in Africa was shown.  Childcare was offered so parents of small children could participate.

The event encouraged people to donate as they felt called.  There was a very large glass decanter on the serving table.  People were invited to offer their donations there throughout the evening.  

For First Christian Church in Columbia, having a side building on the property that was not the “church building” made it easy to host a wine event but the committee also noted how well this event would work in a large home or outdoor setting.  Either way, the people of FCC Columbia loved finding a unique way to have fun raising money for Week of Compassion.  In fact, people are already asking when it will happen again!

We are grateful for the creativity of congregations that utilize their gifts, talents, and resources to partner with us! If you have held a unique event-or have sponsored a beloved event for years, let us know.  Help us tell the story of how we work together to put Compassion into Action!