Eight church groups received help for their hunger and poverty ministries last month when Holston’s Outreach/ Advocacy Team awarded them a total $7,500 in grant money. The Poverty & Hungry Grants are provided through churches' tithe giving to the conference budget.
The groups selected to receive the annual grants are located in six of Holston’s 12 districts (Wytheville, Tazewell, Abingdon, Kingsport, Maryville Oak Ridge).
Three of the eight groups will use their grants for existing food pantries. Broadway United Methodist Church in Maryville, Tenn., received $1,000 for its Brown Food Pantry, which opens two Saturday mornings each month to serve about 300-350 people (monthly) with groceries.
On Dec. 6, Broadway served 152 people who came to the downtown church for groceries. Volunteers also provided a “Christmas Open House” with home-baked cookies, hand-knit hats, music, and prayer.
Dianne Duchenois said the Broadway pantry was revamped nearly two years ago to go beyond providing food. “They come for food, but our prayer is that they’ll leave with some hope and love as well,” she said.
In the Oak Ridge District, Beaver Ridge United Methodist Church opens its food pantry weekly for needy families in the Karns community of Knoxville, Tenn. “Most of our food pantry clients are the working poor or seniors on fixed incomes,” said Sharon Wagner.
With the $1,000 grant, Beaver Ridge plans to add new items to food basics already stocked: peanut butter, tuna, crackers, soup, cereal, canned vegetables, beans and rise. “Clients have asked if we could also provide household items such as toilet paper, bar soap, dish liquid, and laundry detergent,” Wagner said.
Henderson Settlement also received a $1,000 grant to support its food pantry in White Oak, Tenn. Although Henderson is based in Frakes, Ky., the mission’s White Oak campus is located in Campbell County, within the boundaries of Holston’s Oak Ridge District.
“The grant money allows us to serve folks and address issues of hunger and food security in a place of great need,” said Michael Feely, director of mission advancement. “The median income for the people we serve in that part of Holston is $11,700 per year.”
Two churches will use their grants to continue their outreach to schoolchildren.
In Bristol, Va., Beech Grove United Methodist Church serves underprivileged students “who face the weekend with no food or insufficient food to meet their nutritional needs,” said the Rev. Mike Somers. “Our young adult Sunday school class has accepted the responsibility to provide 51 children with backpacks full of food for the weekend.”
The cost is $5 per child or $255 per week, Somers said. The $1,000 grant will feed the 51 children from nearby Valley Institute for a month. “We are so grateful to the churches of Holston Conference for meeting the challenge to provide for these children.”
Mafair United Methodist Church in Kingsport, Tenn., also has a partnership with neighboring Lincoln Elementary. For four years, church volunteers have tutored, contributed clothing, provided a teacher’s luncheon, and donated snacks, said the Rev. Kim Goddard.
“This year, Mafair children became involved by filling 75-90 backpacks once a month for Lincoln students to take home on the weekends,” Goddard said. “The $1,000 grant will be used to supplement their efforts and build momentum for their ‘Kidz Helping Kidz’ ministry.”
Anderson Street United Methodist Church in Bristol, Tenn., started an “Early Morning Church” ministry in January 2014, providing breakfast and a brief worship service at 8 a.m. every Sunday. The $750 grant is appreciated, since church volunteers have been providing the ministry through their personal funds, said the Rev. Barbara Doyle.
“We are so thankful to God for blessing this ministry,” Doyle said. “We have about 20 in attendance every Sunday, and one has even joined the church by profession of faith.”
Jordan’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Pulaski, Va., received a $750 grant to supplement its USDA Feeding program. According to the Rev. Scott Robertson-Gouge, the Wytheville District church will now be able to provide 42 families with fresh meat, milk, produce and bread not available through USDA or the Feeding American Southwest Virginia Food Banks.
“We were able to supply these same 42 families with small turkeys for Thanksgiving, and then we’ll see how far it will stretch from there,” he said.
First United Methodist Church of Narrows, Va., received a $1,000 grant to support its "Senior Sunshine" program, which provides a monthly meal for older adults.
"We serve approximately 60 meals each month, and we deliver about half of those to shut-ins," says the Rev. Jason Stubblefield. For seniors who dine on the premises of the Tazewell District church, volunteers provide special activities such as Bingo, concerts, or a tax seminar.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.