Interviewed by Joanne Finley
Pine Grove and St. Paul United Methodist Church combined resources and created a masterpiece for the Glory of God. They created a safe space for the seniors of the community and surrounding communities, where they could go and have a hot meal, fun, and fellowship.
Missional Leader, Southeast District
They call it the Pantry Hour where Pastor Cecelia Broome is the pastor.
This Pantry Hour Ministry started eight years ago and on Friday, February 6, they celebrated eight years of ministry. What an awesome celebration it was to see so many of the seniors from all over the community and surrounding communities to come out and celebrate eight years of history being in ministry, that was a blessing.
The room was packed and more tables and chairs had to be set up for the celebration. I heard one of the seniors apologized to Pastor Broome for having to rearranged the room, and Pastor Broome being your faithful self said, “Don’t apologize, we thank God for you, it is a blessing and we are glad to have you.”
The Director, Mrs. Betty Wright told the story of how the ministry started. Her, Daughter Robin Wright, Program Coordinator read 1 Corinthians 13 and the seniors song,” Song of Zion,” Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, Kum ba Yah (Come By Here), and Do Lord Remember Me.
Mrs. Wright: the ministry started when I had this vision that I wanted to do something for the seniors and I went to my pastor, Pastor Broome and told her about my vision and Pastor Broome had enough faith in me to welcome the vision and told me to go ahead run with it. I ran with it and I never thought about giving up because, “Our cupper never runs dry.”
On the first Friday of each month from 11:00am – 2:00 pm, the seniors and volunteers come together and participate in drawing of prizes, Bingo, listen to guest speakers and enjoy a sit-down, well-balance hot meal and fellowship with one another.
Mrs. Wright: “ out of all the eight years that I has been doing this ministry I have never once went without what I needed to meet the need for that one day out of the month when the seniors come together to have food, fun, and fellowship.
At the celebration were forty-eight seniors. Each senior was asked to bring at least two guests. One of the seniors brought seven guests and another brought two guests. Ms. Hattie Manning is the oldest senior in the ministry. She is ninety-four years old. Ms. Manning is still alert and gets around well by herself, Betty said; she is still in her right mind. As I thought about her I am reminded of the story of Moses who was a hundred and twenty years old when God took him: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. (Deut. 34:6).
Joanne: I had the pleasure of interviewing some of the seniors and Ms. Carolyn Modean Cofield (the one in the picture by herself) shared her story about being one the first senior to attend. She read the ad that Robin had put in the local newspaper advertising the ministry. She called Betty and said, “I heard that you all are giving away free food,” Betty replied and said yes we are giving away free food but it will be already cooked. A hot meal that would be already cooked with time of fellowship with other seniors and Ms. Cofield said she has been coming ever since the first day.
Mrs. Wright: this ministry will would not have continue as long as it has without the support of her pastor, Pastor Broome and a host of volunteers. She thank her daughter, Robin who coordinated all of the program, Mr. Luther Cosby ,Ms. Vicky Johnson, Ms. Cassandra Heard, Kitchen Committee, who prepares all of the food for the meals, the volunteers who donates items for the drawings and Bingo give away.
Joanne: I asked Betty several questions:
1. In three to five years from now, what you want to see this ministry become?
Betty’s responds: I would like to see this ministry becoming a diverse ministry, all of God’s people come together and fellowship regardless of race of national origin.
2. What type of programs that you would like to offer the seniors?
Betty’s responds: Educational programs on health and wellness. The ministry is in partnership with the Chambers Co. Extension Cooperative Program.
3. What type of resources you need to continue this ministry?
Betty’s responds: We need monetary donations to purchase gas for the Van Ministry to be able to pick up the seniors that need a ride. We also need items to give away as prizes for the drawings and Bingo.
Lastly, she said something in the midst of the interview that is so true, those items that people donate to give away as prizes, the seniors love them and look forward to receiving them. This right here is a ministry all by itself. So many seniors Betty said are alone and coming together and receiving something makes their day even brighter.
She also told a beautiful testimony:
Mrs. Wright: one of the seniors that was coming to the Pantry Hour that is no longer coming because she has deceased was one of my elementary school teacher and it was a joy to see her because when I was in school she was so caring and loving toward me and to be able to give back to her for how she gave to me was a blessing.
What a well needed ministry for our vulnerable seniors and we thank God for Pastor Broome, Mrs. Betty Wright and the Pine Grove/St. Paul UMC for such a wonderful testimony.