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Ministerial Association has big plans for 2010

January 23, 2010
By The Rev. Fred Bird, Serving Episcopal congregations in Elkins and Grafton

For the past several years, various members of the Randolph County Ministerial Association have been writing weekly articles of faith for The Inter-Mountain. We have deeply appreciated The Inter-Mountain for allowing us to bring our messages of hope to the community. It is now a new year and time for us to get back to the work of spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God. We wish to use this first article of the new year to tell you about the Randolph County Ministerial Association and our plans for 2010.

The Randolph County Ministerial Association is a loose knit group of pastors and church workers who believe that the Kingdom of God is coming about through loving cooperation and working together in service to all people. We represent several different denominations. We are traditional, and we are contemporary. We are from main line churches, independent churches and evangelical churches. We do not expect that we will agree on everything. Yet, we work together to find new and better ways to bring the love of God to the people of our area. We agree totally to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves. We strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.

We are not certain as to when the Randolph County Ministerial Association began its service to the area. We know it has been for a few decades. During that time, many worthwhile programs have been initiated by the Ministerial Association. One of those programs is the Good Shepherd Ministries located in downtown Elkins. The Good Shepherd Ministries provides clothing, food and other needed items to people at little or no cost.

Some of the other programs of the Ministerial Association include the Hospital Chaplaincy Program at Davis Memorial Hospital. Each day of the week a pastor serves as Chaplain of the Day and visits all new admissions to the hospital. The pastor may pray with the individual patient, provide support and counseling, talk with family members or refer the individual patient to his/her own pastor. Another program is the "Transient Program" for wayward travelers passing through the area. Surprisingly, this area has a large number of people who pass through with too little money and resources. The Ministerial Association may purchase fuel for their vehicle or a night's stay at a motel for the unfortunate travelers.

A few months ago, one of our members expressed the need for a Saturday free lunch program. That dream became a reality, and now a free meal is available to anyone every Saturday at Woodford United Methodist Church. For many years, the Ministerial Association has sponsored a free Thanksgiving Dinner at the IOOF Lodge just south of Elkins. On some years, several hundred meals have been provided. Many area businesses and churches have assisted with that grand holiday dinner.

Perhaps the highlight of the year for Ministerial Association members has been the Holy Week noontime services hosted each year at a different Elkins church. This is a week of celebration of our faith and unity. It is a time to remind ourselves of our calling as Christians to reach out to this sinful and suffering world.

If you are a minister, pastor, church worker or another church leader, we need you. The Randolph County Ministerial Association asks you to join us in our efforts to make our area a better place for all. We meet on the second Tuesday of each month at noon in the Davis Memorial Hospital conference room. Please join us for lunch, fellowship, conversation and prayer.

The late Sen. Ted Kennedy once made a quote which could describe the Randolph County Ministerial Association. Senator Kennedy stated, "What binds us together across our differences in religion or politics or economic theory is that when each one of us is cut, our blood flows red. Mine does and yours does too. Those who would try to appropriate God or family or country for their own narrow ends, who believe that religious faith is the property of one particular ideology, forget the width of God's embrace, the healing power of a family's arms and the generosity of this country's vision. God, family and nation belong to us all."

(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)



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