In the words of Pastor Tom, Ebenezer United Methodist Church, located in the front of the Crittenden/Eclipse community, is “all about taking care of people.” The mission of the church is making sure that the church is an open asset to the community and helping people to walk with God today. Pastor Tom has been here about a year, and his ministry focuses on “what does God want and how does God want it to happen,” and this has manifested in themes of generosity, fellowship, hospitality, and community.
One of the signature programs of the church is their monthly sing-a-long. Held on the last Friday of the month (except in November and December due to the holidays), the event allows the community to sing from 6PM-7PM and then enjoy free homemade pizza and ice cream. The music is an eclectic, crowd-pleasing mix of traditional hymns, bluegrass hymns, praise music, and modern classics like “Dancing Queen,” “Sweet Caroline,” and “YMCA.” The church’s band plays for all the hymns, even the traditional ones. On a given night there might be two flutes, a trumpet, a saxophone, guitars, a bass, and drums. To keep the energy and excitement from Vacation Bible School, last month’s sing-a-long featured some songs from VBS for the kids. All are welcome for this free event to join in good, wholesome family fun.
The church is perhaps best known for their hospitality efforts on the 4th of July. The church opens its doors and grounds to the community to enjoy children’s games, puzzles, and reasonably priced food. This year they offered 2 hot dogs, chips, and a drink for just $5. Pastor Tom and his congregation are already brainstorming ways to tweak the bicycle and basket giveaway and hospitality to get even more people involved.
The church hosts a food pantry in the Family Life Center from 10AM-2PM every Tuesday. They do not vet their clients, so anyone in need can come. The church has aimed to create a full-service store experience and have a little bit of everything for their clients to choose from. Our farm has been actively donating fresh produce to the food pantry for two months, and two of our generous neighbors have made weekly donations to purchase additional produce to donate.
Pastor Tom is always up for a challenge, and he is excited for the potential to expand and elevate the church’s Trunk or Treat event to a fall festival. There are talks to have pony rides, inflatables, and perhaps a light supper or chili cookoff. You do not need to be a church member to be part of any of the church’s ministries, so if you feel called to help with the 4th of July, the food pantry, or the upcoming Trunk or Treat, you are more than welcome to reach out for meeting information. After all, many hands make light work! If you have any questions, Sheila Smith works at the church’s office and has “a good handle on everything going on.” She can be reached at 757-238-2359 Monday-Friday from 9AM-5PM.
Pastor Tom emphasizes that “we are welcoming to anyone. Period. This is a church that, if you are looking for God, you are welcome, no matter your background.” To help people feel that welcoming spirit, the congregation is working on plussing up their member care and taking care of their own. Pastor Tom wants to make sure that people are prayed for and stay connected. Additionally, the church is working on their visitor care so that new and potential members can get plugged in quickly to the church. In Pastor Tom’s words, “it’s not a dead religion or a bunch of do’s and don’ts. This is an invitation to be in a relationship with God and each other.”
For more information, please visit the church’s website: https://www.ebumc.net/