Neighboring Notes

What's Your Why?

I often hear folks ask why ‘Neighboring’ instead of ‘Missions’? If we’re honest, it’s still the helping, caring, & serving work that is so ingrained in our DNA as a church. Furthermore, when we look at that helping work through the lenses of Abundance, Relationships, and Joy, it can help lead us to ways of helping that are mutually beneficial for all members of the community, and that seek to empower our neighbors by creating space for all to flourish and be the people God created us to be.

If we think critically about how our culture has traditionally engaged in mission work, very often, we find examples where we inadvertently rob neighbors of their dignity and agency by doing for others what they could have had the capacity to do for themselves. Robert Lupton points out in the book, “Toxic Charity” that this kind of one-way charity causes harm by creating expectation and dependence rather than true life-transformation. To be clear, there are some circumstances where one-way giving may be appropriate and necessary: We can discern those situations carefully and thoroughly when we listen deeply to our neighbors and our community. The key, however, is listening.

Sometimes we fail to listen when we think we already know the problems and the solutions without having to ask. Sometimes we place our own emotional need to do something “good” or “with purpose” over the actual need for our neighbors to have the space to live their own lives of purpose or contribute to God’s good in the world. Sometimes our good intentions (which are often focused on meeting deficits), can undermine our true purpose: realizing the Kingdom of God which is inherently mutual and in which all people have a divine purpose that they are called to share.

Neighboring through Abundance, Relationships, and Joy invites us to remember that all of God’s children have gifts to share (they’ve been created by the God of limitless creativity). All of God’s children were created with divine purpose that helps lead all of us to the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. We don’t have to have all the answers or all the solutions. Neighboring invites us into the world with humility and grace, and eyes and ears open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our neighbors and in ourselves so that together, we can all strive for God’s kingdom. 

Rev. Matt Ybañez

Bellaire Reading Night Tutoring

Bellaire Elementary After-School Tutoring

This semester, we are proud to partner with Bellaire Elementary to create space for much needed after-school tutoring. This is a great example of neighboring in action—our longstanding relationship with Bellaire Elementary opened the door for the counselors to share what could help make their students more successful and we were fortunate to have willing volunteers with a desire and a passion to help make a difference.
The teachers have shared with us that the next several weeks leading up to standardized testing will be critical. At this time, 55% of students across the district would be considered “approaching grade level” or better. The dream is that the majority of students in the district are meeting or exceeding their grade level curriculum and testing. After school tutoring impacts students’ learning directly by reinforcing classroom instruction and creating a cloud of supportive adults who are invested in each child’s success.

Are you curious about tutoring? Take a look at this video created by Bellaire counselors to help know what to expect when you get involved. If you’re interested in getting started, reach out to Rev. Matt Ybañez at .

Neighboring Notes


Connect with your neighbors by serving at the Mobile Food Pantry. Volunteers are always needed.

    • Monday, February 27 (2:30-6:30 p.m.)
    • Friday, March 10 (8 a.m.-12 p.m.)
    • Monday, March 27 (2:30-6:30 p.m.)
  • Reading, math and science tutoring at Bellaire Elementary
    • Mondays and Wednesdays, 3-4 p.m.
      (No tutoring on March 13 or March 15 during Spring Break.)
       Matt Ybañez for information.
  • Grab the Backpack Ministry food item from the grocery store when you’re there.

    • Kraft Original Easy Microwavable Macaroni and Cheese Cups, 4-pack of 2.05 ounce cups

    • Drop off bin is located in the Atrium across from the Welcome Center.

Clothes Closet Underwear and Sock Collection

The Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD PTA’s Clothes Closet provides clothing items to students in the district with a need. The Clothes Closet is run by volunteers from the HEB ISD Council of PTAs, local PTA members and people in the community. During February, our congregation is collecting NEW socks and underwear. Please purchase and place your items in the labeled basket in the Atrium. If you prefer to shop online, you may visit their Amazon wishlist and items will be shipped directly to Sarah Valentino, coordinator of the HEB Clothes Closet. Items needed include:

  • Socks, all sizes, styles and colors for boys and girls, toddler through 8th grade.
  • Boys briefs for toddlers and boxer briefs for boys older than toddler through 8th grade.
  • Girls underwear, all colors, styles and sizes for toddlers through 8th grade.

Collection is sponsored by United Women in Faith.

Backpack Ministry Report

The Blessings We (the Backpack Ministry) Actually Have 

by Carolyn Kitchens

As the season of Lent is now upon us I have been laser-focused on seeking more clarity into my 40-day travel to Easter. Turning to our devotional, Bless the Lent we Actually Have, that we are studying in our small Lent groups, I flipped through to find the “page of the day” but accidentally landed on a day whose title blared out at me, ”Blessings for When You’re Tired of Broken Systems.” Like a magnet on iron, my eyes would not let me leave that page as my mind remembered an article from the Tarrant County Food Bank indicating that 18.5 % of the population in Tarrant County are food insecure AND 1 in 5 children have experienced food insecurity. The noise in my head kept repeating, “Broken System, Broken System, Broken System!” And, yes, I am tired of Broken Systems.

Dear FUMC Hurst members, you are gently calming my "raging voices". You are faithfully doing your part to “fix” the broken system of food insecurity for our kids. The two pictures attached to this article illustrate two facts: you faithfully donate items of food weekly in the purple tub in the Atrium for the Backpack Ministry, and your generously monetarily donations allow us to purchase the 15 additional food items that are included in the sacks of food that we deliver weekly to 115 children at three different schools in our HEB ISD neighborhood.
You, FUMC Hurst Members, beautifully illustrate the “Blessing that We Actually Have.” You bless 115 children each week who would otherwise experience hungry tummies over the weekend, and you bless Larry, me (Carolyn), and the other 12 members of the Backpack Ministry Team with your faithfulness and your generosity. Thank you!

We will continue to accept for your contribution the food item of Mac and Cheese for the month of March.

“The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; Those who help others are helped.” -Proverbs 11:25 (The Message) 

The Village Garden

How can one serve God and neighbor when it is sunny, cloudy, rainy, dry, hot, cold, warm, windy, and calm? The answer is in the Village Garden of course!

Established in 2011, we begin our 12th season in February when we plant potatoes and onions. Through the dedicated, hardworking gardeners, we provide fresh organically grown vegetables to our neighbors at Mission Central.

In addition to being a productive garden, we are a learning resource for a diverse group of people. Having hosted, VBS, Mission Possible Kids, Eagle Scouts, youth groups, Sunday School classes, college students, other churches, and other community gardens, we teach and share basic gardening at the appropriate level for each group. We have made presentations and done demonstrations for groups as well.

Our current gardeners are Vicky Otterman, lead gardener, Kevin Campbell, Donna Baumgartner, Margaret Coleman, Jenny Ellis, Sharon Goldstein, Joanna Jolly, Tammy Kenyon, Rita Lindbom, Walt and Trisha Martz, Peg Meyers, Betty Russell, Henry and Lynda Schraub, Jay Thompson, and Valerie Schwartz.

We also acknowledge the contributions of those we lost this year including Mike Goode, a Master Gardener and co-founder, Janis Rockhold and Marty Dannis, waterers and workday participants. They were valued members of Hurst Harvesters.

We garden organically in 11 raised beds growing Spring, Summer, and Fall produce. Due to mild Texas winters, we can garden from February to December.

We always welcome new gardeners who can choose their level of involvement. If you are interested in helping and learning, please contact Vicky Otterman at or 817-296-3625. Thank you for supporting the Village Garden through your prayers and donations. We would love to have you join us….no experience needed!

Village Garden 2023 Spring Planting

Spring is Just Around the Corner