Serving Outside the Church Walls

When first entering the ministry as a pastor’s wife, I was clueless as to what was expected of me.  I had been in church all my life. I was raised Catholic, converted to a Baptist at the age of 28 and then upon marrying Earl at the age of 36, I became a Presbyterian.

Though as a Baptist I had served in numerous roles from being the church sexton to the treasurer, as a pastor’s wife, I was puzzled by my role and what might be unspoken assumptions by the congregation as to my responsibilities.

As time went by, I began teaching VBS, teaching Sunday school classes from middle school through high school, women’s bible classes and adult Sunday school.  I’ve been moderator of women’s groups, bible moderator and also the coordinator of women’s gatherings.  I’ve opened my house to the entire church family for Christmas lunch, sang in church choirs and even catered the women’s annual Valentine Banquet.

But one of the most fulfilling aspects for me of being a pastor’s wife has been in finding service projects for the women to do for others outside our church family and in our local community.

There are ministries within the church of which I am very involved.  I love women’s groups, and I make sure that I am a part of at least one woman’s circle.  I always participate in a Sunday school class; I never cease to learn something as we delve into Scripture, no matter how many times I’ve read through the Bible.  And I consider part of my church ministry to host members by inviting them to our home so that Earl and I can get to know our church family a little more personally.

But  I am also involved in more outreach in the community.  I feel that it is of the utmost importance for a pastor’s wife to also make sure she understands and gets to know her community.  The people within the proximity of the church are part of our local outreach.

James Island is right over the Charleston Harbor connector.  There is an organization that started in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo hit the island, called the James Island Outreach.   I was introduced to this little non-profit by our churches volunteer team-leader to the Outreach.  Our church is known as the pasta church.  We provide mainly canned or dried pasta to the Outreach.  We are one of 15 churches on the island that supports the Outreach.  The Outreach is basically a food pantry and provides some assistance in other areas as well.

An opportunity was announced at our church that the Outreach was looking for Saturday volunteers on the first and fourth Saturdays of each month.  I volunteered for the fourth Saturday.  In so doing, I found that our little island had a lot of hungry folks who desperately needed to experience the compassionate sharing hand of God from their fellow islanders.  I eventually went from being a volunteer to also being a member of the Board of Directors and was asked to fill the Treasurer’s seat.

I took an in house class to learn how to in-take clients so I could work the office when needed on those Saturdays that I volunteered.  This has now become a very large part of my ministry here on James Island.  I have never had a client turn me down when asked if I could pray for them during our time together.  Our director, Reverend Joseph Barbour, opens each day with prayer with our volunteers.  God is here, working through our churches, to help all those in need.  And personally, I believe all believers need to find that community outreach that calls them to volunteer their time and to help their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and those who do not know Christ through their trials.  All people are God’s created children.

Get to know your community, its needs and its people.  It’s important to all Christians, but most importantly to the pastor’s wife, in order to better serve her community, her church, her husband, and most importantly, God.

Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

If you feel so led, please volunteer your time or donate food or funds to:  

The James Island Outreach

1853 Maybank Highway

Charleston, SC 29412

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Thanksgiving Day Blessings…

When I was growing up, I looked so forward each year to Thanksgiving.  My mom and dad were really good about making it special.   

Growing up on a dairy farm, I had chores to do every day with milking taking place early in the morning before school and late in the afternoon after getting off the bus.  There was no relief on the holidays.  At 4:00 p.m. my brother and sisters and I were off to the barn to spend the next 2 to 3 hours taking care of the animals and milking the cows.  Then cleaning up, we would go into the house to celebrate.  Of course mom was also usually down there in the morning and dad was down there in the evening.

On Thanksgiving Day, the cars were lined up in the driveway and starting at around 4:00 p.m., the festivities with grandparents, aunts and uncles and loads of cousins, began.  By the time we finished chores, it was 6:00-7:00 at night.  We would then come into the house through the basement and try to sneak through the maze of people to get to our rooms to change out of some extremely smelly clothes and race to the bathroom to wash up before dinner.

The aromas coming from my Mother’s kitchen were heavenly.  My mother would cook the biggest turkey she could find 25 – 30lbs, crammed with homemade stuffing.  Earlier in the day, my sisters and I would have already pealed a minimum of 10lbs of potatoes, and along with all that, there was no less than 12 other vegetables and side items spread out on the table for all to be enticed.

For the past 13 years, I have missed out on my family’s Thanksgiving Day dinners and gatherings.  For years, Earl led Thanksgiving Day services in churches.  We’ve also lived so far from either of our families that even when he didn’t have services, just trying to get to them has proved difficult.  In the early years with the kids, we couldn’t afford to fly with three children, so the attempts to get to St. Louis would be delayed by Atlanta traffic.  I remember one year trying to leave Atlanta on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving and 4 or 5 hours into the trip we had traveled only as far as the Tennessee border.  The red lights ahead of us were like a never ending river.  We realized that we had to turn around and go back or drive all night.

So now we have made our own traditions for Thanksgiving.  When the kids were home, I made sure I cooked everything my mom always had.  The first year, Earl and the kids were amazed as they counted 16 different items of food on the table.  I enjoy cooking, so Thanksgiving at our house has always been special, and it’s truly a day that Earl and I can give God thanks and also rest.  We’ve learned that Thanksgiving Day is a restful day – a gift from God for the service we do in His name.  And it gives Earl a couple days to energize before the Advent season begins.

Last year we started what I am going to consider a new tradition in this empty nest season of our lives.  With no kids at home and living far away from family, we found some of our friends who weren’t traveling either, and we decided to celebrate with them.  We split the cooking, and we all gather around a feast of food at one of our homes.  This year, we decided to eat over at our house.  We will enjoy the fellowship of one of our church families – but representative of our thanksgiving for all the saints.

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…” (I Thess. 1:2-3)

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