Step Out and Serve – 2020 Edition3 min read

Even in the middle of a pandemic, Shepherd’s Gate, Shelby Township had 339 volunteers show up to help people in need. This year’s Step Out and Serve event felt a little different. There were masks and plenty of social distancing. Most of the projects took place outdoors to ensure everyone’s safety during the pandemic. But that didn’t affect the outcome: during the weekend of August 24-25, church members worked on close to 30 sites around metro Detroit, helping many people—from elderly members to those in the community who are unable to take care of their yards.

Elli’s House, one of the innovative missional ministries supported by the Michigan District, helps get women off the streets and back on their feet after being involved in human trafficking. The house was one of the sites that received the most volunteers, who helped by staining the large deck, cleaning up the yard, basement, and making the home sparkle for the women who live at the Detroit address. They’re even planning to add siding to the outside when they come back in the near future.

Deb Ellinger, who runs Elli’s House, was blown away by the efforts over the weekend. “I’m just continually amazed at how God provides amazing people to come here,” Ellinger said. “Shepherd’s Gate funded this whole thing, all the work was paid for and done by them and it’s because of organizations like this that step up and help our ministry that we stay afloat. Seriously, from the bottom of our hearts, we appreciate you guys so much and we are so, so thankful.”

McKay’s house after the workers were done

Michelle McKay lives in a Macomb County home. She has struggled with health issues this year and has been in and out of the hospital. Her yard had become difficult to maintain, so Shepherd’s Gate stepped in and simplified things by adding mulch, flowers, bushes and a tree or two that not only make it easier, but much more beautiful. Tears of gratitude were flowing down McKay’s face as they revealed the finished product to her on Sunday afternoon. It was like a dream come true. “All I mentioned was I’d like some bushes in the front to make it low maintenance,” McKay said. “And now everything is here and all I had to do was say what I wanted, and they made it happen.”

Sorting bags and making plarn

The Shepherd’s Gate church gym was one of the coolest work sites. There, plastic grocery bags were collected, then sorted, flattened, folded, and cut to make a ball of plarn (plastic yarn). This is then crocheted into a mat and pillow that will go to the homeless.

Despite all that has happened in 2020, this year’s Step Out and Serve was another huge success. The success was so great, in fact, that Shepherd’s Gate plans continue this serving event on a regular basis throughout the year.

Photos by Jeff Heisner/Michigan District, LCMS




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About the Author

Jeffrey Heisner is the video journalist and digital media director for the Michigan District, LCMS.

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Susan Gawencki - September 11, 2020

Thank you Shepherd’s Gate for what you continue to do for people. Several years ago when our Connecting Kids to Christ tutoring program needed to fill a computer lab, you were there to fund some of the computers. They are still up and running and thanks to you, many children have met with academic success because of your donation.