United against hunger: 135 hunger ministries in S.C. 'proof positive' conference is committed to relief

By Jessica Connor

Recent grants to 135 hunger relief ministries across South Carolina are proof positive that, at least in the Palmetto State, United Methodists are dedicated to putting a dent in hunger.

This month, the conference granted more than $97,000 to hunger relief ministries from the Upstate to the Lowcountry. Thanks to surplus funds raised from the wildly successful S.C. Hunger Project at Annual Conference in June, each district had about $8,100 to distribute in grants to those ministries requesting funds.

And distribute they did, with the conference writing 135 checks ranging from $100 to $3,200 to help church-run food banks, soup kitchens, backpack programs and more be the hands and feet of Christ to the least of these.

It was a lot more than I expected, said Conference Treasurer Tony Prestipino, who wrote more than 100 checks in one day. These ministries are alive ”there s energy. (As a conference), it shows that we re generous, and a lot of people are doing small things. When you take these small things and add them together, that s what connectionalism is all about.

Some of the ministries were direct projects of a local church, such as the McCormick UMC Food Pantry in the Greenwood District; others helped agencies connected with a church.

The Rev. Kathy James, director of Connectional Ministries, said the sheer numbers of ministries indicate South Carolina is committed to hunger relief ”and those were only the ministries that took the time to submit grant requests. There are even more hunger ministries throughout the conference, serving daily to help the food insecure.

The impact of this is a testimony to the tremendous gift we have of being a connectional church, James said. We showed the annual conference can unite around something and make a difference.

James said the opportunity helps remind us as United Methodists that we have a real commitment to care for the poor. From increased awareness about hunger, some new projects have started, such as the Greenville District s Methodist Family Partnering With Families Initiative, featured in last month s Advocate, which encourages every local church to form a relationship with a family in poverty.

Hopefully this is a beginning and not an ending, James said.

The Orangeburg District helped eight hunger ministries through the grant funds, from a snack sack project at Williston UMC, Williston, to the Shepherd Ministry food delivery at St. Andrew UMC, Orangeburg.

The reason why there are so many terrific hunger ministries in the Orangeburg District and across South Carolina is simply because we, the UMC, take this command seriously, said the Rev. Frederick Yebuah, Orangeburg District superintendent. For us, these ministries are not optional because it is the expectation of our Lord and King, Jesus.

In addition, Yebuah said, South Carolina is simply doing what Methodists do.

One of the attractiveness of the Methodist movement was her understanding that every aspect of human life was important and interrelated. And the church provided resources to bring relief to those who were in distress, Yebuah said. Sometimes we must preserve lives before we can present the Gospel. For us as United Methodists, caring for and serving the needy is as important as our worship on Sundays.

In the Charleston District, 14 ministries received grant funds. Charleston District Superintendent the Rev. Patti Parrish said hunger ministries are so important to Christians because the biblical witness makes feeding the hungry a priority; each of the four Gospels include an account of Jesus feeding the multitudes.

I think United Methodists have learned the stark truth that we grow enough food to feed the world; the flaw is in our distribution of food resources, Parrish said. Therefore, we want to be part of God s solution and share what God has so generously provided with our neighbors and with the world.

Here are the hunger ministries that received grants:

Anderson District

  • The Tracy Jackson Program of GIFT
  • United Christian Ministries of Abbeville County
  • Anderson Interfaith Ministries
  • Anderson Meals on Wheels
  • Golden Harvest Food Bank
  • Good Neighbor Cupboard
  • Community Food Bank
  • Emmanuel UMC Feed The Hungry Program, Anderson
  • United Way of Anderson County Backpack Program
  • Belton Interfaith Ministries, Association
  • Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen
  • Society of St. Andrews
  • Pickens County Meals on Wheels
  • United Christian Ministries
  • PUSH Easley Charge
  • Gleaning House Ministries
  • Shine Ministries Easley
  • Clemson Community Care

Charleston District

  • New Francis Brown UMC, North Charleston
  • Boone Hill UMC, Summerville
  • Wesley UMC, Moncks Corner
  • Asbury-St. James UMC Outreach Committee, Charleston
  • Washington U
    MC, North Charleston
  • Wesley UMC, Hollywood
  • Grace UMC Outreach Team, Charleston
  • Goose Creek UMC, Goose Creek
  • Greater St. Paul UMC Outreach, Cross
  • Hibben UMC, Mount Pleasant
  • Murray UMC Food Bank, Summerville
  • North Hope Cooperative Ministries
  • Cherokee Place UMC/Tricounty Family Ministries, North Charleston
  • Ocean Grove UMC Food Pantry, Awendaw

Columbia District

  • College Place UMC Community Meal with Children s Garden, Columbia
  • Gilbert UMC/First Calvary Baptist Food Pantry, Gilbert
  • Rehoboth UMC Food Bank
  • Trinity UMC s Christian Assistance Bridge, Blythewood
  • Manna Station, Wesley UMC Outreach, Columbia
  • Killingsworth Inc.
  • Mount Hebron UMC, West Columbia
  • Matthew 25:35 Mount Horeb UMC, Lexington
  • Salem UMC
  • Washington Street UMC Soup Kitchen, Columbia

Florence District

  • FUMC Hemming Caring and Sharing Food Bank Support, Hemingway
  • Wilson Chapel UMC UMW Wednesday Noon Day Prayer, Greeleyville
  • Trinity UMC Combined Ministries Frozen Storage
  • Warren Chapel UMC Harvest Hope Food Pantry, Lynchburg
  • St. Paul UMC Harvest Hope/Wisacky Food Pantry, Bishopville
  • St. Paul UMC-Elliott Harvest Hope Food Pantry, Elliott
  • St. John UMC UMW Holiday Bags of Hope
  • Summerton UMC Bags of Hope, Summerton
  • Good Hope UMC Youth Food Drive, Hemingway
  • Wesley UMC Thanksgiving and Christmas Outreach, Florence
  • Mount Zion Timmonsville Saturday Morning Feeding Ministry, Timmonsville
  • Elijah UMC Older Adults, Kingstree
  • Asbury UMC UMM Bags of Love
  • St. Luke UMC Food Bank and Thanksgiving Outreach
  • COSS/Community Organization Service Shalom Stop Hunger Now
  • Wesley UMC Tuesday Feeding/Emergency Food Pantry

Greenville District

  • Dunean UMC Food Pantry, Greenville
  • Family Promise Pickens
  • Helping Hands Ministries Emergency Food Assistance
  • Trinity UMC James Monroe Mission House
  • John Wesley UMC Breakfast Ministry, Greenville
  • Lebanon UMC Meals with a Message, Honea Path
  • Monaghan UMC Community Dinners, Greenville
  • Memorial UMC Daily Bread Ministries/Soup Kitchen, Greer
  • Salem UMC Rachel s Cupboard, Greenville
  • Trinity UMC Backpack Buddies
  • Woodruff Area Soup Kitchen Feed The Hungry

Greenwood District

  • St. Paul UMC Backpack Ministry, Saluda
  • St. Mark UMC for support to the Greenwood Soup Kitchen, Greenwood
  • Trinity UMC soup kitchen, Greenwood
  • Trinity UMC Food Pantry, Greenwood
  • McCormick UMC Food Pantry, McCormick
  • Spann UMC Kangaroo Kids Backpack Ministry, Ward
  • Leesville UMC for the Batesburg-Leesville Ministry Center food pantry, Leesville
  • St. Mark UMC Backpack Ministry, Greenwood
  • St. John s UMC Voucher Program, Batesburg
  • St. John s for support to the Christian Ministry Center food bank and clothing provider, Batesburg
  • Central UMC Meals on Wheels Weekend Food Ministry
  • Wightman UMC We Care Ministry, Prosperity

Hartsville District

  • Hartsville Soup Kitchen Feed the Hungry, Wesley UMC, Hartsville
  • Oro UMC Food Bank, Pageland
  • St. John/Wesley Chapel Charge Food Ministries
  • Springhill UMC Food Pantry, Rembert
  • New Haven UMC Food Pantry, Bishopville
  • St. John s UMC Food Bank
  • St. John s UMM Samaritan House
  • St. John s UMC Outreach

Marion District

  • St. Michael UMC Jami (Jesus and Me) Children Ministry, Bennettsville
  • Pisgah UMC Food Pantry, Aynor
  • Bethel UMC Wallace Family Life Center-Food Pantry, Bennettsville
  • Smyrna UMC Holiday Outreach, Bennettsville
  • Shiloh UMC Food Pantry
  • St. James Visionaries Women in Ministry The SS&S
  • First UMC Stop Hunger Now, Loris
  • Leve Green Grace and Mercy Food Pantry
  • Surfside UMC Give-Meal-A-Month GAMAM, Surfside Beach
  • Centenary UMC CAP
  • Bennettsville-Cheraw Area Cooperative Ministry Outreach
  • Trinity UMC Wednesday @ Trinity
  • Joseph B. Bethea UMC Churches Assisting People Food Assistance Center, Conway

Orangeburg District

  • Williston UMC Snack Pack Ministry, Williston
  • Shalom Zion Mission Cottage of Bamberg After School Program
  • Trinity UMC Soup Kitchen and Clothing Bank
  • Mayes Chapel UMC Outreach Food Box Ministry, Branchville
  • Branchville UMC Helping Hands Food Pantry, Branchville
  • Bethel UMC-Pelion Charge Backpacking Ministry, Lexington
  • St. Andrews UMC Shepherd s Ministry, Orangeburg
  • Eutawville UMC Outreach, Eutawville

Rock Hill District

  • Bethel UMC Soup Kitchen
  • Chester Circuit Chester County Ministerial Association Food Bank
  • Epworth UMC Dream Center Food Pantry, Rock Hill
  • Fort Lawn UMC Food Pantry, Fort Lawn
  • Friendship UMC Back Pack Buddies, Rock Hill
  • Lynnwood UMC The Bridge Food Bank, Lancaster
  • Mount Harmony UMC Clover Parish/Mount Harmony Food Pantry, Clover
  • St. Luke-Salem Back Pack Buddies, Lancaster
  • Trinity UMC Bag Lunch Program, York
  • Wesley UMC Grace and Mercy, York
  • Zion UMC Free Community Meal, Lancaster

Spartanburg District

  • Duncan Acres Food Pantry
  • Bethel UMC Food Bank, Union
  • Cannon s Camp Ground UMC Food Pantry, Spartanburg
  • Landrum UMC Community Meals and Food Pantry, Landrum
  • Pleasant View UMC with UMW Mission on Main, Cowpens
  • Buford Street UMC Heart Line, Gaffney
  • Duncan-Startex-Loree Open Hearts Open Hands, Duncan
  • Silver Hill Memorial UMC Center of Hope, Spartanburg

Walterboro District

  • Cottageville UMC Loaves and Fishes Food Bank, Cottageville
  • Bluffton UMC Missions Committee Back Pack Buddies, Bluffton
  • Port Royal UMC UMW Phoebe s Closet, Port Royal
  • St. Stephen UMC Outreach Program, Ridgeland
  • Bethel UMC Missions Committee Food Pantry, Walterboro
  • Springtown UMC Reach-in Refrigerator, Smoaks

Example: Emmanuel UMC Feed The Hungry Program, Anderson

The Feed the Hungry ministry was the idea of a few members here at Emmanuel UMC. They saw there was a need, and they planted the seed.

We pick up people by using King David Baptist Church van, since we don t own one, from one of the soup kitchens on Saturday morning about once a quarter here in Anderson. We bring them to Emmanuel, where they are given clothes, a word from God and a hot home-cooked meal prepared by the members.

We thought it would be a blessing for them, but it has been a blessing to the members. It warms our hearts and fill our souls because they are all so appreciative of what God is doing.

” Patricia Jackson

class="contentpane">Example: Hartsville Soup Kitchen Feed the Hungry, Wesley UMC, Hartsville

The Wesley Soup Kitchen has been in operation more than 15 years and serves an average of 65 persons every day, Monday through Friday. Twenty-one churches in the Hartsville area support the soup kitchen with volunteers, preparing and serving the meals daily.

Greg Rogers, member of Prospect UMC in Hartsville, is the soup kitchen director and does a phenomenal job of coordinating volunteers, maintaining food inventory, fundraising and overseeing the daily operation of the mission.

The Hartsville community has embraced the mission that is located in the heart of Hartsville on the Wesley UMC campus. The persons we serve make their way to the soup kitchen every day and are a delight to see and spend time with as we break bread together. We are especially grateful to be able to open the soup kitchen on Thanksgiving and Christmas and to share these special days with our brothers and sisters.

I guess the most humbling part of the mission is when the servants hear the words "thank you" when they serve a plate to someone who is hungry, and the servant replies, "No, thank YOU for the privilege of being able to serve you."

We are most grateful to be recipients of the generous gift from the S.C. Annual Conference to make it possible to do even more this year to help feed hungry people, and to feed all of our souls with the love of Christ.

”The Rev. Fran Elrod

Example: St. Stephen UMC Outreach Program, Ridgeland, Walterboro District

With barely more than a dozen members, St. Stephen UMC isn t the size of most churches managing a successful food outreach program, let alone one that does it twice a week, year-round.

But week after week they do it, the tiny church feeding thousands each month.

An all-volunteer staff with Helen Shuler at the helm and supported by pastor the Rev. Rufus Snowden, the St. Stephen program works nonstop to meet the needs of the community, many from the extremely low-income neighborhood surrounding the church.

Recipients line up in droves beginning early in the morning on Mondays and Thursdays, plus some holidays ”pregnant mothers with toddlers in tow, laborers who can t find enough work to support their family, seniors inching along from Social Security check to Social Security check.

Food, along with clothing, toys and other donated items, are set up yard sale style behind the church.

Nobody is ever turned away unless we don t have something, Shuler said.

Share your hunger ministry s story

Did your hunger ministry receive a conference grant? The Advocate invites you to share your story. Email [email protected] by Nov. 10 with the name of your ministry, the church associated, the city, what your ministry does and your personal feelings about why you are called to help your neighbor in this way. Submissions should be 300 words maximum.

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