New 'welcome basket' ministry is started when St. Mark's UMC decides to forget 'business as usual'


From left, Peggy Willoughby, Sharon Brown and Sherry Raggett of St. Mark's UMC in Memphis assemble "welcome baskets" now being funded and made by their church for residents of Wesley Senior Ministries. Submitted photo

By Sherry Raggett, St. Mark’s UMC

The United Methodist Women (UMW) of St. Mark's UMC in Memphis raise money for missions through first Sunday luncheons, and sales of Valentine candy and baked goods.  The United Methodist Men (UMM) have their yearly catfish dinner and pancake breakfast to support our Boy Scout Troop. The last few years at our church have been “business as usual” Everything was good. Nothing was unexpected!

In March of 2013, we received a call that none of us expected. Our beloved Gynon Moore, president of our church's UMW, nursery nanny and greeter, had died suddenly.  St. Mark’s UMC was devastated. Her smiles and greetings each week meant so much to us all.

As we mourned our loss and moved to reorganize our congregation without this saint, the unexpected happened.

Gynon had been St. Mark’s UMC's Golden Cross Senior Residents Fund representative. One of our members volunteered to continue Gynon's ministry. While attending her first Golden Cross meeting, she heard David Kabakoff, President of the Golden Cross Senior Residents Fund, introduce the fund's new mascot, Wes, the Bear. 

As David spoke about Wes being given as a gift to each new resident of Wesley Senior Ministries, all our friend could think of was how cute Wes would look sitting in a “welcome basket." 

Over the next few weeks, a potential “welcome basket” was designed and the idea presented to our minister Dr. Brad Gabriel. Brad immediately thought the basket would be a beautiful gift of love for the residents of Wesley Senior Ministries and a wonderful mission ministry for St. Mark’s UMC.

Before long, our church that had been moving along “business as usual” began to hear about the “welcome basket” mission. The idea was presented to the United Methodist Women, United Methodist Men and First Sunday Luncheon attendees. Everyone agreed this is a mission of hospitality and material support they could get behind. 

A work room was designated, supplies were gathered, and the Golden Cross mission miracle began. No more “business as usua.l. Laughter was heard in the halls as ladies said “This is fun,” “What a good idea,” “What can I do to help?” and “When are we making baskets again?” There was love, excitement and pride as our church worked together on our new mission.

We have been blessed with lots of helping hands, open of hearts and enough financial support from our congregation to make the “welcome baskets” for a year! 

St. Mark’s UMC has given more than 130 “welcome baskets” to Wesley Senior Ministries, but the true miracle is that our church is no longer doing “business as usual." We walked by faith, not by sight, found a need, and acted. Praise the Lord!