Church puts unexpected blessing to work


January 21, 2000|By Lourdes Sullivan | Lourdes Sullivan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A FEW years ago, Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Scaggsville received an unexpected blessing -- an inheritance.

The gift came at a providential time. The church had constructed an expensive building in 1993, and its membership was growing rapidly, said the Rev. Victoria Starnes, the pastor.

Longtime church member Vernon Brown passed away in 1997. After bequests to family and friends, his will left real estate and other assets to the church.

Starnes said she didn't know Brown well. He was ailing when she became pastor in 1990 -- but she visited him in a nursing home during his last years.

The church won't say how much the inheritance was, but Starnes said much of the money will be used to pay down the mortgage on the building. Some of the money is being used to enhance church life. A new sound system has been installed in the church. The old parsonage has been converted to offices and renamed in honor of Brown. The church is saving money to hire a youth minister and perhaps to repave a parking lot.

After deliberation, the congregation decided to tithe the money it received from Brown and give 10 percent to local, national and international causes.

Emmanuel United Methodist participates in area charities. Members contribute to Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center and offer shelter to homeless men for a week during the winter as part of the Winter Haven program. Co-sponsored by a number of churches, the program provides shelter all the winter.

Brown's legacy has allowed the congregation to do more; $6,000 has been sent to a Methodist congregation in Nicaragua to help clean up after hurricanes and flooding.

This year, Emmanuel plans to provide 2,000 relief kits to the United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR), said Diane Baltz, who, with Nancy Herron, is co-chair of the outreach committee that distributes the tithe money for Emmanuel.

UMCOR, Baltz says, is an organization like the Red Cross, providing disaster and relief services around the world. This year, some of the kits will be sent to Kosovo.

Donations of items for health, school and layette kits are being sought.

Needed for the layette kits are wash cloths, receiving blankets, cloth diapers, baby sweaters, gowns and diaper pins.

For the health kits, large tubes of toothpaste, nail files, hand towels, wrapped soaps, Band-Aids and wash cloths are needed.

UMCOR rules require that all the items be new.

For the school kits, the committee is seeking donations of pencil sharpeners, rulers, pencils, large erasers and canvas bags.

Baltz is confident the church will achieve its goal of 2,000 kits -- any shortfall in donations will be made up by money Brown left to the congregation.

Since another of the Brown properties has been sold, Baltz and her fellow committee members will have the pleasant job of deciding where the tithe money will go next.

"Our job is to find great causes to send the money to," she said.

The congregation plans a packing party about 11 a.m. Feb. 6, after the last morning service. Help will be welcome to pack the items in bags for distribution to Kosovo and other areas around the world.

Donations can be dropped off at the church, 10751 Scaggsville Road.

Information: 301-725-5200.

Traffic, safety problems

The Savage Community Association will meet at 7: 30 p.m. Jan. 31 at Carroll Baldwin Hall, Foundry and Baltimore streets.

Along with the election of officers, the group's agenda includes a discussion of the traffic-calming devices installed last fallon Baltimore Street and Savage-Guilford Road.

The devices -- a series of raised platforms at the major intersections on both streets -- have been successful in slowing vehicles, says Bill Waff, association president, but emergency vehicles have also been slowed.

Information: 301-725-1089.

Here they come

The Savage Library, 9525 Durness Lane, will hold a program for children, "Here Come the Firefighters," at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

Children's librarian Rita Snyder -- who is a wonderful storyteller -- is always on the lookout for those who relate well to children. Three years ago, she met firefighter Bill Pappas of the Banneker Station in Columbia -- and a fellow parent at her child's nursery school.

Tomorrow, she will make good use of his talents. Pappas will give a brief presentation on safety as part of "Here Come the Firefighters."

The Savage Volunteer Fire Company will bring its firetruck to the library so children can climb aboard and talk with firefighters.

No registration is required. Information: 410-880-5978.

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