Suwanee Parish UMC found interest in international hunger relief agency Stop Hunger Now through their new pastor in July of 2013. One of Rev. Ted Rollins’ first goals when arriving at Suwanee Parish, also known as Suwanee Worship Center, was to determine a mission program focus for the remainder of the year.
The Missions Committee agreed and church Missions Coordinator Celia Hilliard was also familiar with Stop Hunger Now from the organization’s packaging event at the 2009 North Georgia Conference.
With previously fond experiences considered, it was decided that Suwanee Parish UMC would commit to packaging 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now to be distribute to poverty-stricken countries. With the congregation holding responsibility for hosting the packaging location as well as providing 25 cents per meal, this would be the largest mission project ever upheld by their church.
Despite the $2,500 needed to support the mission, Suwanee Parish has always prided itself on having members “who always answer the call to help others, especially those less fortunate, those in need,” remarks Hilliard.
The Missions Committee constantly kept Stop Hunger Now in front of the congregation by creatively updating and reminding the church of their mission. They not only sent out e-mails, but also created a skit and shared a Stop Hunger Now video to inspire people to get involved.
When August approached Rollins joined the committee in creating more ways to reach their $2,500 goal. First, a church-wide appeal was requested of the congregants to set aside 25 cents a day from August to November in order for each member to donate $20 to Stop Hunger Now.
A 5K Fun-Run/Walk was hosted by the church so that members could be sponsored by friends and family to earn a donation per mile.
By mid-October, Suwanee Parish’s efforts resulted in roughly $1,800, $700 short of the needed amount. Hilliard was then encouraged by Rollins to attend the Great Start 2013 – Pastor and Missions Team training event at Simpsonwood on October 24. There, the duo learned of the mission support for local churches from North Georgia Conference.
They worked with Connectional Ministries staff afterward who helped them secure a $500 grant. Once the results of the Fun-Run and the church appeal came in and the grant was awarded, their $2,500 commitment could be met. The Suwannee Parish congregation proudly offered the earnings to the Stop Hunger Now representative on December 7 during the long awaited packaging event.
The Missions Committee of Suwanee Parish UMC credits the success of their 2013 mission project to Rollins, their congregation that “never says no to helping others”, and support from the North Georgia Conference.