Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Delivering joy to the world! Community swells small-church effort


Bettie Jo Wood, top, and Britney Stroud and Caleb Roland, above, assemble food gifts at Bethel UMC.

At Bethel Church, each stack of food supplies, when completed, will support a specific family for 90 days.

Photos by Ronnie Wallin

Decades of practice have finely tuned the annual Christmas mission directed by the United Methodist Men of Bethel UMC.

On Dec. 12 in the Christian Life Center at the church in Bethel Acres, west of Shawnee, towers of nonperishable food items shrank as volunteers separated them into specialized collections for hungry families, identified by numbers, not names.

"It’s quite a site to see," said Pastor Chris Talley.

Potatoes, ham, and dairy foods also are provided.

"We try to get each family enough for 90 days, to get them through winter," said Jim Jenkins, UMMen president and a schoolteacher.

A total of 36 families, including 103 children, received the food, plus clothing and toys.

The number in each family unit varies; Jenkins said the largest served this holiday was a family of 10.

Extensive community support comes in all sizes, too. The school holds a canned food drive, and the UMMen host a pizza party for the class that collects the most. A Baptist bikers group helps with deliveries.

Boeing employees regularly donate funds, and this Christmas gave a grant of $10,000, said a grateful Jenkins.

Also, an eighth-grader personally collected 219 toys and helped deliver them. "She is learning how to serve," Jenkins remarked.


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