Morning ministry: BV United Methodist provides prayers, snacks for students
Berryville United Methodist Church is sending students to school with full stomachs and hearts.
Members of the congregation have been holding a morning ministry from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday in the parking lot for students on their way to school and anyone else who passes by the church. Pastor Andy Hughes said the church has been doing the morning ministry since school began in August.
"We usually have some kind of snack. We've got brownies, cocoa, coffee and water this morning," Hughes said. "We hand out water to students as they're walking by and ask if they have any prayer needs. If they say they do, we pray with them."
He said the morning ministry was started because the church is located next to the school, providing a good opportunity for community outreach.
"A lot of kids walk through here, and it was just a good opportunity for us to get out and minister," Hughes said. "It was something the congregation wanted to do, so we got on it."
The goal, he said, is to meet the different prayer needs of the students.
"Some have family issues, health issues or different things going on," Hughes said. "Even though most of these children don't come to our church, we feel like we should be here for them."
Rick Thompson, a member of the congregation, said that the morning ministry averages about 78 visitors each day. The only time members of the church aren't present in the parking lot during the week, he said, is when school is not in session.
"We want to remind students that God loves them," Thompson said. "Some of our members volunteer every day for this."
As a result, Hughes said, the congregation builds relationships with some of the students they see each day.
"We build a kind of camaraderie with some of them," he said.
"You never know how many times you've served a cup of coffee in Jesus's name to Jesus," Thompson said.
The morning ministry also reaches out to adults, Thompson said. A parole office is located nearby, he said, and the church members will often visit with people coming and going there as well.
"They come in at the very tail end of our time out here when the kids are already in school," Thompson said. "We visit with them and try to offer them the same kind of support."
He said he will often flag down local policemen to give them free coffee as well.
Hughes said the morning ministry will continue throughout the school year. When the weather gets too cold to have it in the parking lot, it will be moved inside the church building, he said.
"We'll have a sign posted out front to let people know," Hughes said.
Thompson said the morning ministry is as rewarding for the church members as it is for the students because it gives them the chance to be involved in a mission.
"It's a local mission. Many times church members are serving their grandchildren and their friends because we have an older congregation, so it is a mission close to their hearts as well," he said.
Hughes said members of Berryville United Methodist Church can be found in the parking lot with coffee and snacks from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. every morning during the week.
"Everyone is welcome to stop by," he said.