On a mission
Local churches team up to create Christmas Mission for county
The pastors of three of the largest local churches have teamed up to form the non-denominational Russellville Christmas Mission to provide assistance to Franklin County residents during the upcoming holiday.
Pastors Alan Beasley of First United Methodist Church, Wade Wallace of Calvary Baptist Church and Barry Holcomb of First Baptist Church started planning the project in September in response to this summer's closing of Faith Mission Outreach, a downtown ministry that has provided Christmas food and gifts to hundreds of people during the past few years.
"When Faith Mission Outreach closed this summer, we realized there would be a huge void at Christmas," said Richard Parker, minister for youth education at First Baptist Church. "Alan Beasley contacted my pastor, Barry Holcomb, and Wade Wallace about forming a cooperative effort during the holidays.
"I'm very excited about the Russellville Christmas Mission because it allows us to work together as a community and not pass off this need to a single organization."
He said the RCM has planned a free Christmas dinner for up to 600 people at Russellville's A.W. Todd Centre on Dec. 20. Registration for the dinner, which will be served at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., will be available beginning Oct. 28 with First United Methodist (Tuesday), First Baptist Church (Wednesday) and Calvary Baptist (Thursday) serving as registration sites from 8:30 a.m. until noon each week.
"The Russellville Christmas Mission is a free event but people must sign up to receive a ticket," Parker said. "We'll give out 300 tickets to the morning dinner and 300 to the afternoon dinner."
The mission will also provide a Christmas gift to children ages 12 and under.
"Faith Mission Outreach was really elaborate about the gifts for the children," Parker said. "We won't be as elaborate but will provide a small package with a gift for children ages 12 and under that will be as specific as possible."
The three churches have already committed to fund the project but Parker said there are still plenty of ways for groups or individuals to participate.
"We're willing to foot the bill but other groups and churches have already come forward to help out," Parker said. "We need volunteers who are willing to provide a gift for a child through the Christmas Dove program, which is similar to the Salvation Army Angel Tree, or willing to make a donation to help provide the meal.
"We also need volunteers at the dinner for the morning team and afternoon teams to help set up, serve and clean up."
He said the mission is currently focused on promoting the projects and ensuring that people pre-register.
"Our two biggest obstacles are getting the word out and then getting 600 people registered," Parker said. "Hopefully this area is known for its compassion, and it will take the faith community as a whole to meet people's needs during the upcoming holiday season."
For more information about the Russellville Christmas Mission, contact Parker at (256) 332-2065.