Immanuel UCC Pre-Easter Run to Benefit Bethany Children’s Home and Local Community

2017 1K Fun Run participants pose with the Easter Bunny, who led the race.

Pennsylvania residents looking to keep their resolutions to stay fit — and help a great cause at the same time — need look no further than the United Church of Christ’s Bethany Children’s Home in Womelsdorf, Pa., and its local ministry partner Immanuel UCC in nearby Shillington, Pa.

Immanuel is hosting its fifth annual RISE ’N Run 5K and Fun Run March 31 at 9 a.m. The event benefits Bethany and Blankets of Hope, a local nonprofit that provides fleece blankets to homeless shelters, cancer patients, hospitals, veterans, and other organizations.

“Rise ’N Run came out of a desire for Immanuel to hold an event that nurtured personal and communal health and wholeness,” says the Rev. Megan Huesgen, pastor of Immanuel UCC. “The unique gift of partnering with Bethany is that the residents of Bethany are able to participate. Some run. Some walk. Some cheer along the roadside. All bring a palpable sense of joy and enthusiasm.”

Participants in this year’s event train for the 5K.

Immanuel UCC partners with Bethany in many ways, says Meggan Kerber, director of development at Bethany. Ongoing support includes providing such special opportunities for Bethany youth as attending prom and other school activities, and having birthday parties with their friends on campus. Immanuel also installed a handicap accessible ramp at Bethany’s campus church.

“The funds from Rise ’N Run this year will help to support not only our youth’s most basic needs of food, clothing, and a safe place to live,” Kerber says, “but also a variety of therapeutic programs, including music therapy, art, and recreation.”

The family-friendly race welcomes walkers and runners of all levels. The race begins and ends at Immanuel and the flat course takes runners through Shillington, including through the Governor Mifflin school campus. The 5K begins at 9 a.m., and the 1K Fun Run, led by the Easter Bunny, begins at 9:45 a.m.

Participants from the 2017 5K.

Local churches partnering with Bethany are critical to the CHHSM agency’s continued service to youth who have experienced significant trauma, says Kerber. “Through the generous blessings of time, talent and treasure, our local churches help our youth to begin the healing process, learn new life skills, build self-confidence, and set goals for their future.”

For Immanuel UCC, the hope is that Rise ’N Run sheds light on the work of faithful organizations seeking to offer care and love, and lets them know that Immanuel believes in and supports their work.

“The event is purposely held every year on the Saturday before Easter as a testimony to the light and life of the resurrection truth of our faith,” Huesgen says. “We know that this event, simple and brief as it is, creates long-term connections and investment into the lives of the young people associated with Bethany.”

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