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John and Paige Guist and a number of other members of Middle Creek Vineyard Church spent their Saturday morning offering free oil changes to the community.

Q and A: Middle Creek Vineyard is reaching out to the community

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news Farmington, 55024
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Middle Creek Vineyard Church is small, but its members are doing what they can to have a big impact in Farmington. In recent years church members have reached out to the community with activities pastor John Guist said are designed to help people who are in need. Last winter, church members offered free gift wrapping on a few occasions, and over the summer they sometimes bought free drinks for customers at local coffee shops.

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On Saturday, the church's outreach involved free oil changes for anyone who stopped to see them at M.R. Auto downtown Farmington. By the time they were done, they had serviced at least 12 cars.

We caught up with Guist Saturday morning to find out what was behind the church's efforts.

Why are you doing this?

Well, one it's a pretty tough economy and everyone can use a break. We're just letting people know somebody cares for them. From our perspective, it's a God thing. We think this is something God wants us to do in the city to bring a little light to the city and her people. That's kind of the main reason. And it's fun.

Do you have a lot of volunteers out here?

Yeah. We had a few more, but they left. We usually have 13 to 15 volunteers.

Are people pretty happy to come out and help?

Yeah. And anybody can help. The mechanical people touch the cars and the people who aren't mechanical assist the mechanics or they help with the set up and tear down. We try to make people feel welcome. Play with their kids. Before you got here there were a bunch of kids, so we were keeping them busy and keeping them safe. If there's a part we don't have here we send someone away. (M.R. Auto owner) Marv has been really generous. I asked just to use the parking lot and he said, Why don't you just buy everything from me. It's a lot easier and then you don't have to run to get parts or try to figure out their engine size.

What was the connection here? Was it just because you thought it was a pretty visible place to do it? Why this spot?

I actually prayed about it. I had two spots. Here and another one in town. It's right on the main drag. It's easy for people to find. That's what I thought. I met Marv -- there's a group of pastors. We came to your place. We get together and pray (for businesses) and came in here and talked to Marv and prayed for him and the bus. So I just thought, well, there's an owner I knew, so I came back.

It's worked out pretty well for you.

Yeah. Some of the other people in town have been good. Dunn Bros. They delivered coffee today. One the other outreaches we've done, free tax day, we gave away donuts and fruit. They all pitched in some stuff. I didn't even ask. I was going to pay for it.

It's kind of nice to develop those connections.

It is. Then we can also kind of help each other out. I tell everybody I can to go to Dunn Bros. or the Ugly Mug. I know they're competing, but they're on two ends of town. If they need an auto repair person they can trust, I trust Marv and Mike. I heard that from people before I ever came here. It's kind of nice. If they meet somebody who, maybe the family is struggling with things, they'll call me and I might call another pastor who lives by them. It hasn't happened too much yet, but that's what we're trying to do.

You mentioned the free tax day. Have you done other kinds of things like this as outreach?

We did free gift wrapping. We've been, all sumer long, the first Saturday of the month ... we bought free coffee for anyone for the drive through or inside. The people, we got together and played games. People wanted to say hi. A lot of it, you'll see signs that say No strings attached and we really mean it. Well, there's a string. You've gotta show up. But I think there's enough institutions that have kind of soured people, so we want to grow as a church and we need money to run things.

Ihis is kind of a marketing thing for you too. It gets your name out there.

Oh yeah, sure. That's part of that. A new church, you've got to. This is a bedroom community. I know people sleep here. They don't live here much. Anytime I get to meet people, it's fun. You get the word out we're here but also you find people who are doing fine but they want to contribute. They want to help. So sometimes we have people from other churches who will come and join us in an outreach.

You mentioned, as a new church, getting your name out there. Is it tough to spread the word that you're there?

That's hard to say. I think they see the signs up, but we had a family that came after the article you did in the paper. We didn't have public services for a year and they waited another six months to see if we were still around. So yeah, it gets kind of hard. But we're just trying to be consistent and let people know we're committed to being here for the long run.

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