By Lillian D. Williams
CHARLESTON—A simple idea to raise needed funds to pay church apportionments turned into a grand success and a chance for some fun.
Mount Carmel United Methodist Church had been struggling to pay its apportionments, which fund needed programs, salaries and other mission efforts in the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. By June, their pastor said, they had not been able to pay anything, and the Rev. Nathan Smalls said he was beginning to get very worried.
That’s when one of Mount Carmel’s lay servants, Martha Sass, got creative. She gathered a weekly committee to plan a “Senior Prom”—that is, a prom for senior citizens rather than seniors in high school.
The event, held Aug. 27, netted more than $19,000, raising enough to pay apportionments and more.
Sass and her committee met weekly to strategize events and activities, planning party games, dancing and more. For example, guests were invited to “Guess the Younger Version” of prom king and queen contestants, with pictures displayed of the contestants during their youth.
In addition to trivia, a vote was taken to determine the winning king and queen. Margie Gadsden won the title of queen, while Isaiah Simmons won the title of king.
“The biggest highlight was that everybody involved worked really hard,” Sass said. “The seniors, they were the ones who made [the prom] successful.”
With the prom theme, “The strength of a kingdom comes from its king, the strength of a king comes from his queen,” the prom was open to the church and the community beyond. All queens were aged 65 and older; kings had no age requirement.
“Like other churches, we have been struggling to pay our bills this year,” Smalls said. “Not paying the apportionments was not an option, but many of our folks just did not have the funds. We started selling hotdogs after church to generate some funds, but this was a proverbial drop-in-the-bucket to the almost $19,000 we were required to pay.”
He said he was immensely proud of his church for stepping up and getting creative, as well as all the hard work it took to organize such a fun event.
“This, in my mind, is phenomenal,” Smalls added.