By Ansley Brackin
Rev. Terry Hunter is not quite sure how Far More Ministries of Williamson UMC originally started, because it was born from bits and pieces: ideas inspired by other ministries, and sermons that called to the super hero inside every congregant. Hunter is a big fan of comic books and often references them in Sunday morning messages, but he believes there are greater powers in the real world than can be found within illustrated pages.
“We all have a super power,” he claims, “and that super power is love.”
Love is the driving force behind the multifaceted Far More Ministry, a group of volunteers that provide special care to those in need of food, clothing, financial assistance, or even haircuts.
“Connecting people to life, hope, purpose, and wholeness” is the motto, a belief that holds so much strength that the ministry is expanding into the next city and churches across the area.
The movement began with a food pantry. The church collects and delivers food boxes through a partnership with Action Ministries, boxes that can provide a family with nutrition and spiritual faith for the price of a jar of peanut butter.
Far More Ministries and Action Ministries provide for families by inviting churches in the area to commit to providing and assembling boxes. These boxes contain about 18 pounds of filling foods, like rice, canned goods, peanut butter, and pancake mix. There is also room for customizable options, adjusted for each family’s needs, like bread and meat if seen as necessary.
Since beginning in March of 2014, roughly 4,000 boxes have been assembled through this partnership.
Since its start in August 2014, Far More Ministries' clothing closet has given away about 2,000 articles of clothing. Clothes are often donated by other congregants and surrounding churches. Bags of items are also dropped off anonymously at the building’s door.
Both the clothing and food pieces of Far More Ministries have become so successful that the team will expand into a location in Zebulon, one town over.
“What can we do, what do we have, how can we help,” is how Hunter describes the mindset of those who contribute to these efforts.
These moving parts are constructed of enthusiastic volunteers who use their passions and talents to aid the “least of these,” guided by Matthew 25: 40.
With the increase of volunteers, several more assets to the ministry are beginning to take shape.
Williamson UMC members discovered they could provide minor car repairs. Hunter witnessed David McCoy cultivate a car care ministry during his time at McEachern UMC. With a handful of knowledgeable congregants (including a man who used to service race cars) and a small deserted auto garage, Far More Ministry has created a similar ministry on a smaller scale. So far they have serviced 20 cars.
One member uses her expertise as a stylist to give free haircuts to the homeless at the House of Hope shelter about once a month, a partnership the ministry would like to expand upon in the future.
Another growing piece is job search assistance. People volunteer to teach those in need how to properly interview for a job and how to identify which jobs are suitable for their skill sets.
While some areas of Far More Ministry are taking off more rapidly than others, Hunter counts every piece as valuable. With 11% of Pike County’s population living under the poverty line, the goal is to love as much as possible.
“If you’re doing what you’re supposed to do for the right reasons, God’s going to bless it,” Hunter says.
This way of thinking has been constantly met with reassurance. After receiving many requests from other congregations on how to help, Far More Ministries is hosting a dinner on March 6th inviting those interested in getting involved to come celebrate their one year anniversary and be welcomed under the umbrella of service they have created.
They hope if more people get involved they can open their food pantry and clothing closet more often, currently both open once a month, and expand on the other outlets that have begun to make an impact in the Pike County community.
Terry Hunter believes starting ministries within a church is possible with a little courage and knowing how to ask for help.
“Just do it,” he says. “And don’t try to reinvent the wheel. If you know someone who is doing something that works, talk to them.”
Those interested in starting similar ministries or joining forces with Far More Ministries can contact Terry Hunter of Williamson UMC.