Women prisoners of 'Grace Place United Methodist Church' contributed 12 cleaning kits to Memphis Conference's 'Hurricane Harvey' relief campaign


Twelve cleaning kits (buckets) funded by Grace Place United Methodist Church, the Memphis Conference's prison congregation, were among those donated by churches from all across the conference and loaded onto a truck on Sept. 11. (Photo by Lane Gardner Camp)

By Lane Gardner Camp, Director of Communications, Memphis Conference

Among the many United Methodist congregations that supported the Memphis Conference campaign to send assistance to survivors of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey was Grace Place United Methodist Church (UMC).

Rev. Diane Harrison, pastor of the prison-based congregation, said the church's Inside Council voted to give $650 to assemble ten cleaning kits (buckets) according to United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) specifications.

Monies the women of Grace Place use for missions come from sales of their many arts and crafts. Friends and supporters outside the prison make those sales possible.

The women of the congregation authorized the money for the cleaning kits, but were not able, due to their incarceration at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Fort Pillow, Tennessee, to purchase the supplies, assemble the kits and get them to a drop-off location.

Harrison communicated an appeal via Facebook for an “outside church” to take Grace Place’s $650 and "turn it into" cleaning kits.  Each kit's value is approximately $65. Click here to see what each kit contains. 

Jean Bedwell of Colonial Park UMC in Memphis, saw Harrison’s post and messaged that she was “happy to help.”

Bedwell and her friend, Mary Racer of Bartlett UMC in Bartlett, Tennessee, near Memphis, had previously implemented another project funded by “the Grace Place ladies,” as Bedwell calls them.

Stretching the $650, Bedwell and Racer were able to buy supplies to assemble not 10, but 12, cleaning kits on location at St. Paul UMC in Lakeland, Tennessee, near Memphis. St. Paul was the Metro District’s drop-off location for cleaning kits for Harvey survivors.

Tracie Stephens and Conner Koestman of St. Paul UMC helped with the kit assembly.

Grace Place's 12 kits were included in the approximately 2,500 assembled by churches throughout the Memphis Conference that includes West Tennessee and Western Kentucky.  CLICK HERE to read about Memphis Conference response to help survivors of Hurricane Harvey.
“All of us were honored to be able to help Grace Place ladies and the flood survivors,” said Bedwell.