2016 Congregational History
Our year got off to a rocky start. We experienced a late January blizzard. It started Friday evening and didn't let up until we had about three feet of snow. Church services were canceled that Sunday morning, but that wasn't all. It was the Sunday for the Ministerial Association Pulpit Swap, and community Breakfast. Both were also canceled.
This was also the week the WATTS Homeless Shelter project was hosted in Clarke County. Our Church got its portion of this work over with before the snow started. However, Camilla Welsh was one of the coordinators of the overall effort, which was scheduled to end on Saturday morning. They could hardly turn these homeless folks out into a blizzard, so she and some other volunteers kept the shelter going until Sunday afternoon.
Proving that good habits are also hard to break, members once again participated in the Gulf Mission Trip to New Orleans. Gerald Dodson and Jimmy Swisher made the trek, to help rebuild housing damaged by floods and hurricanes. Thankfully, the trip was safe, productive and inspirational.
On February 21st, Jane Campbell had her 100th Birthday. We arranged to bring her down to Berryville, and recognized her during worship. We had a special reception following the service, to let her know just how much she means to us.
We continued our practice of alternate giving this Easter. Instead of lilies to decorate the Sanctuary, this year we contributed money to shelter those who could not provide for themselves. In January, the Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter (WATTS) received food and volunteers from our Church. Now it was time to help with some of the expenses. It cost about $12.00 per night, to shelter each individual. Our Membership made around 115 participant-nights available for this program.
After the morning Service on April 3rd, we held a pot-luck luncheon. This event was in celebration of Jonathan's fifteenth year as our Pastor. We wished to let him know how much we value his commitment to our Church. He has helped us to become a strong and active organization, and we hope and pray this trend continues over the coming years.
Also in April, we began our contribution to the Backpack Ministry. This was a program begun by the Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church. We volunteered to supply one of the staples that are sent home every weekend with needy children in our community. We started with giving individual juice containers, then the small pudding cups. It was decided to extend this program through the summer, more on this later.
In mid-May, we had a pot-luck luncheon for our High School graduates, Emma Bunker and Michael Fields. They were awarded slightly larger scholarships this year, reflecting a greater return on investments and an increase in the funds that generate that money. Lord willing, we will continue to support our youth this way.
There was a Memorial Service for George Grove, organized by his family. It took place at the Clarke County Parks and Recreation Building in the Senior Center Room on Saturday June 11th. George spent years lobbying and fund-raising to make this facility possible. Jonathan was asked to conduct the service; there was a luncheon afterward.
In June our Secretary Donna Lanaghan resigned, to take another position. Beth Rogers of Winchester was hired to take her place. Thanks go to Donna for taking time to make this transition go smoothly.
Vacation Bible School attendance was down this year. It wasn't worth mention, except for one inspirational gift. Several teenagers showed up to volunteer their time to help with our VBS. These teens were not Church family members. They had been participants in VBS as children. Clearly, we had made a difference in their lives. We hope and pray that they look favorably at our Church, and come to attend other activities.
With summer behind us and the Backpack program a success, the participating Churches decided to do more. The more we looked at the families supplied by the Backpack program, the more we felt that the whole family unit could use some support.
The involved churches talked among themselves and decided to hold a once-a-month evening meal, to be called the SOUL-Full Community Meal. This was not to be a soup kitchen, but a moment for people across the community to gather and build relationships with one another. It was held on the fourth Thursday of every month, at the Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church, with the other Churches providing the food on a rotating schedule.
Along the way, we also participated in:
Stop Hunger Now
Stuff the Truck, with the Clarke County Rotary.
Working with Shenandoah Presbytery’s Ethiopian Partnership and its ICARE program, we are providing housing, clothing, nutrition, and education to children orphaned in Ethiopia. For years as a congregation, we have sponsored three children in the program. This year we are seeking to add to this through our Christmas giving.
In lieu of Poinsettias to decorate the Sanctuary, members could pay for a day of care for these young people. It takes $1,100 to support a child for one year. We chose to make donations at the rate of $3.15 per day. A total of 644 days were sponsored through the ICARE Program.
May the Lord give his Blessings to our efforts.
James R. Green, Sr.