Poverty: Everyone's burden

Photo By Dave Boyd
Hale Community Ministries, Arney Street, Elizabethton, has a central location from which food, clothing and supplies are distributed to those in need.

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Correspondent
Most government programs are designed to help solve the long-term problem of poverty in America. In the meantime, there are several families that are not getting basic needs met, and they require immediate help. Local churches are part of the community that has recognized this need, and they have mobilized to lend a helping hand to those who need it most.
Rev. Curt Rabe, pastor of Memorial Presbyterian, sees the local poverty problem as one that must burden local churches. He stated that the church must have a significant role in meeting physical needs.
"Industries are shutting down, and people are losing their jobs. Poverty is going to continue to rise, and it is something that the church has a responsibility to help with," Rabe said. "Scripture tells us, 'As you do unto the least of these you do unto me', and that faith without works is dead."
Rabe said his church takes an active role in the local fight against poverty. Memorial Presbyterian, like many other churches in the community, continually stocks a pantry with food staples for families in need.
"It has a tremendous impact on people's lives when they realize that they can go where they know that they are not going to starve," Rabe said.
Rabe's church also contributes to ARM (Assistance Resource Ministries), located on Broad Street in Elizabethton. The ministry helps individuals who cannot afford to pay rent and utilities. A database is kept to help maintain records of what services each individual receives. The database cuts down on the number of churches trying to meet the same needs.
The Southern Baptist church has also organized and concentrated their efforts into one central outreach ministry to low-income families. Hale Community Ministries on Arney Street in Elizabethton has a central location from which food, clothing and supplies are distributed to those in need.
Rev. Brent Seals' congregation at First Baptist works closely with the outreach ministry. "Local Southern Baptist churches pooled resources and built a building near the public housing. Our church gives money each month to help buy clothes and food boxes," Seals said.
Youth as well as adults participate in boxing up food and clothing at Hale Ministries. Several church members donate food for the boxes, and in October an offering is collected to benefit local low-income families. The ministry also distributes school supplies.
The congregation at First Baptist is responsible for the recent completion of a Habitat for Humanity home in Elizabethton. The church supplied all of the money and labor for the house.
Members are also active in the local Meals on Wheels program. Seals stated that 25 to 30 of his members participate in delivering meals throughout the community.
Each summer the youth from First Baptist go to different parts of the nation and world to repair homes. The youth also work at the local National Guard Armory each year preparing Christmas baskets.
Seals stated that there is a great deal the church family does to help with the poverty crisis that some do not even realize. The local pastor encourages outreach to those in need because of the example Christ set in the Bible. "Jesus began His public ministry having to do with the poor and needy in the book of Isaiah," Seals said.