Eight Whitesburg churches with a common goal of providing more outreach opportunities have formed a coalition. And it started with a simple food pantry operated by the Methodist Church.
The Whitesburg Area Christian Ministries is focusing on identifying the needs of area residents, and to provide opportunities for the members of participating churches and others in the community to respond through prayer, volunteerism and financial support.
The churches include Banning Church of God, Ephesus Christian Church, Whitesburg Baptist Church, Mt. Avery Baptist Church, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, New Hope Baptist Church, Whitesburg Christian Church and Whitesburg Methodist Church.
The ministries’ Board of Directors officers include the Rev. Darryl Hessel of Whitesburg United Methodist Church, the ministry’s chairman; the Rev. Barry Shoemake of Whitesburg Christian Church, vice-chairman; Tammy Alexander of Ephesus Christian Church, treasurer; and Shirley Robinson of Whitesburg Baptist Church, secretary.
Hessel said that to have eight churches working together is notable and that it helps those involved to do more in terms of community outreach.
Notable about the Whitesburg Area Christian Ministries is that by having so many churches participating, it is involving different denominations and cultures.
“We reach people through this that we may not have been able to reach individually,” he said. “This is something that came up out of a food pantry that was operated by the Methodist Church. Some people thought that because it was running from there that it was a Methodist denomination-only thing.
“So we’ve grown within the year and it got too big for us to manage here so we invited out to other churches to gather to talk about doing something in the community and we were very delighted they were eager to be a part of it. We’ve been in operation for about a year now and what we’ll be doing is we’ll be relocating to the old city hall building soon. So right now, we’re in the process of revamping that building for the food pantry.”
The group cares for about 40 families, taking care to consider the ages of the members of the households so that they meet everyone’s needs.
Twice a month, for 90 minutes, the ministry operates the food pantry with a team of volunteers led by Judie Boyer. Its most recent meeting was on Tuesday when they wanted to make sure families got their packages in time for Thanksgiving.
The churches all contribute financially and share the food they individually collectively. They get food from Little Giant in Sargent, just down the highway in Coweta County. There are also a few other partners who help them manage the pantry.
The group hopes to eventually offer other services such as a clothing closet and pantry for other nonfood items that are not covered by food stamps. The ministry would provide spiritual support and prayer to those in need as well.