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Posts Tagged ‘Methodism’

Living Democracy in Hobson City: Week Seven

In Hobson City on August 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm

CAM00849Community Enablers reach out to those in need

By Audrey Ross

Community Enablers of Calhoun County serves Anniston, Oxford, Hobson City, and surrounding communities in the county.  The purpose of the organization is to ensure that the needs of the community, whatever they may be, are met. The Community Enablers provides those in need with food, clothing, furniture, school supplies, and any other necessities it can to help citizens make it through difficult times and get back on their feet.

Maudine Holloway, a Hobson City native, started Community Enablers 42 years ago in conjunction with the Haven Church ministry group to extend the church’s impact outside church walls. Holloway started out by simply knocking on doors and asking, “What do you need?”

From these humble beginnings, the program has developed into a much-needed resource for struggling families. By reaching out into the community, Holloway and her fellow do-gooders have managed to create a unique program that strives to tackle the difficult problem of poverty and hard economic times.

CAM00852Headquartered in a small and unassuming building pressed up against the Anniston YMCA and Methodist Church off Noble Street in downtown Anniston, the Community Enablers may at first be difficult to find. However small, the building provides basic needs to approximately 5,000 people a year and that number continues to grow.

Working with limited funds can be a challenge. However, much of the food that is given away is donated directly to the Community Enablers from local supermarkets. All of the clothes are donated by other citizens in the area. Despite relying mostly on donations, the Community Enablers always has a large selection of food and clothing. Visitors of the center, after completing applications and providing identification, are welcome to enter the food or clothing rooms and choose their own items.

“There’s no sense in giving them a bunch of food or clothes they’ll never use, so we let them choose,” says Holloway.

Another very important factor for Holloway when running a community-aid program is to make sure those that come in are not ashamed to ask for help.

“We try to have folks leave here with dignity,” Holloway says. Recently a kindergarten teacher who had just lost her job entered the center and was new to assistance programs such as this one. It can be very difficult for an independent person to admit they need help, but Holloway doesn’t see it as giving handouts. “This stuff already belongs to the community. We are just servants distributing it.”

After serving the community for 42 years, Holloway has plenty of inspiring stories to tell. One story in particular is a stand out. Near the beginning of the Community Enabler’s founding, there was a local man who was building a new bathroom on his house. The bathroom was great, but he did not have any plumbing system in his house. Holloway, together with the Enablers and other community groups, worked to dig a well for this man so he would be able to use his new bathroom.

“He told me that we changed his life,” Holloway commented as she remembered that special day.

With every great story there are also great challenges. Servicing an entire county is not an easy task, and it is a constant struggle to keep enough funds around. Holloway says the most challenging part of providing this service is not being able to provide everything. She would like to have enough money to help with medical bills and bus passes, but these things can add up quickly. In the meantime, the Community Enablers also functions as a kind of “hub” for assistance. If they can’t provide you with something that you need, they can most likely point you in the right direction.

Holloway also started the Sable Learning Center for children in Hobson City. The Sable Learning Center is a free afterschool and summer program that provides children with a meal and additional education away from school. It is another challenge to fund the Sable Learning Center, but Holloway remains hopeful.

“Every time we are almost down to nothing, we get another blessing and we can continue a little bit longer.”

This persistence is what has kept these programs running decade after decade, through the good times and the bad. Surely the Community Enablers will continue to serve the area of Calhoun County for years to come, and thousands more will benefit from Holloway’s dedication.

Living Democracy in Marion: Week Three

In Marion on June 27, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Tabor 1Historic Marion Church Stands on Foundation of Love

By Catherine Tabor

A church isn’t just four walls and a steeple. It’s the people inside, and worshippers at Zion United Methodist Church in Marion stand on a strong history and a foundation of love. Zion played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights movement. On the night of February 18, 1965, nearly 500 people left Zion United Methodist Church in Marion and attempted a peaceful march to the Perry County Jail about a half a block away. This jail was where young Civil Rights worker James Orange was imprisoned. The participants of the march had planned to sing hymns and return to the church, but the short march was not as peaceful as some might have hoped. The marchers were met by the Marion police, sheriff’s deputies, and even Alabama state troopers. There was a standoff, and violence soon erupted. Jimmie Lee Jackson became a casualty of what began as a peaceful protest march. This event inspired the famous Selma to Montgomery march, which occurred a few days later, a significant event in the Civil Rights movement.

Looking at it now, it’s hard for people to imagine such an historic moment being associated with the brick structure at 310 Pickens St. Located adjacent to theTabor 3 town square, Zion is an easy church to get to. I was able to attend a service on Father’s Day, June 16. When the church doors opened at 11 a.m., church members come flooding in to take their seats for the service. Everyone exchanges friendly greetings, happy to be alive and able to praise God. All of the youth in attendance file to the front and take their place on stage as the choir, where they soon join together in beautiful, soulful songs of worship. Fairest Cureton is the pastor at Zion, and Velma England is the assistant pastor. Both did an impeccable job with this Father’s Day service.

Zion is, as I previously stated, a Methodist church. I have only been to a few Methodist church services.  I was raised as a Protestant without a particular denomination, but my family mostly frequented Southern Baptist churches. However, the denomination was not the only striking difference between Zion and other churches I have been to. The congregation of Zion United Methodist Church consists of mostly, if not all, African-Americans. Most of the churches I’ve been to had Caucasian majorities.  I was approaching a culture of faith different from my own. So with the differences in mind, I was a little nervous about walking into the church, but I was truly blown away by how open and friendly everyone was. The service in and of itself was exceptionally different from anything I had previously experienced. Usually, church services I attend last approximately one hour, and they generally lag after the first 30 minutes. The service at Zion not only lasted two hours, but I was captivated for the full two hours.

Since it was Father’s Day, the sermon was obviously about fathers. The main scripture was Luke 15:11-32, which is the story of the prodigal son. Many know this story, but assistant pastor Velma England at Zion told it in a different way than I have always heard it. Instead of focusing on the prodigal son and his wrongdoing and straying from the path of righteousness only to return home to beg forgiveness, she focused on the perspective of the father. She discussed how hard it must be for God to watch His children stray from the path and fall to the absolute bottom. She spoke of how much God loves us and wants us only to do our best and how happy He is when we succeed or, if we act like the prodigal son, how ecstatic He is when we return back to Him.

catherine pic 5I thought that was a really neat way to approach the story. Even though that youngest son got into all sorts of trouble, his father accepted him and welcomed him back home with open arms because that’s how powerful love is. And that’s really what I am most impressed by in Marion. Despite being one of the poorest areas in Alabama, its citizens love it so much that they accept its history, good and bad. They accept its flaws and embrace its assets. The residents of Marion love their small town, and it shows in all of the good restaurants and small businesses. It shows in the smiles and waves of citizens passing each other on the street. Marion is a town that has survived on love.

The thought of the week of Father’s Day was: “Sometimes, God has to break us to make us. It’s just a bend; it’s not the end. We’re all like glow sticks; no matter how much we’re bent and broken, our light still shines.” Marion is a lot like the prodigal son. It’s been beaten and broken in the past, but it has also been healed by love and caring citizens. The members of Zion United Methodist Church believe God is blessing Marion today. And they are truly a part of that blessing.