Aside from providing worship for their congregations every Sunday, many churches also work through the week to help the communities they serve. Some donate money, some donate manpower and some seem to do it all! One of the latter is Maple Springs United Methodist Church (UMC) in Winston-Salem. What began as an “outdoor preaching place” in 1848 on Henry Livengood’s farm has transitioned into a beautiful place of faith, both within the church and outside in the community.
“We recognize that following Jesus is a big decision that has the power to affect all other decisions in your life,” states the church’s website. “We take this seriously and want to be the kind of church that helps to equip you for life.”
“One way to equip you for life is to provide opportunities to serve in ministry with others,” said Allison Kelly, food pantry coordinator for Maple Springs UMC. “Maple Springs UMC has many missions that provide outreach in our community and our world to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.”
One of the most important ways the people of Maple Springs UMC help those most in need is through their own food pantry. “Feeding the hungry is a priority at Maple Springs UMC,” said Kelly. “The Maple Springs UMC food pantry was established in November of 2000 to provide short-term emergency food assistance to those in our community who are in need. We are a partner agency of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina and receive generous support from our congregation and our community. As the food pantry coordinator, I see my role as two-fold: to provide outreach and hope to our food insecure neighbors and to show God’s love to each person who visits and volunteers in our food pantry.”
While most of us are not aware of the food insecurity that exists in our area, it is a major issue that needs to be addressed. “The Piedmont Triad ranks among the top 10 nationally for food insecurity,” said Kelly. “There continues to be a growing need to provide food assistance in our area. Along with food insecurity also comes a host of other challenges though, including chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. As advocates for the food insecure, we are challenged to not only to provide food assistance but, also, to promote wellness. Food is one of the most powerful tools we have against chronic disease. We are not only dispensing food at Maple Springs UMC food pantry, we are also dispensing hope. Our volunteer team is invested in our food pantry clients. Our clients share their challenges, disappointments, and heartaches as well as their dreams, hopes and successes. We pray with them. We are honored to be a part of their stories.”
But, it doesn’t stop there. There are many more missions that the people of Maple Springs UMC are involved in and hope to one day become involved in. “We have been blessed by our congregation and community support of our ministry,” said Kelly. “Our goal is to expand involvement more broadly within the community. Volunteers are always needed to serve during client service hours (each Tuesday and Wednesday from 9-11am and 1-3pm), as well as on Friday morning (9:30-11am) for our shopping, unloading and restocking. Other volunteer opportunities can be available during other times as well, so please contact us if you are interested in donating your time. Food donations are always accepted and appreciated. Items we typically need include canned fruits and vegetables, canned meats, dried beans, rice, pasta, dried fruit, juice, coffee/tea, cereal and crackers. Financial gifts are welcome and appreciated as well.”
Maple Springs UMC also places a strong emphasis on teaching children how to give back to those in need. “Children and youth at Maple Springs UMC have many opportunities to serve the food pantry throughout the year,” said Kelly. “Recently, a group of our 4th and 5th graders made Thanksgiving Meals-in-a-Bag for our food pantry clients. The Maple Springs UMC preschool also conducted a food drive in the month of November and visited the food pantry to bring their generous donation, as well as for a tour. We also recently hosted a group of middle school children from Jefferson Middle School to the food pantry for a service project and good discussion about food insecurity.”
Maple Springs United Methodist Church is located at 2569 Reynolda Road in Winston-Salem. For more information, email Allison Kelly at Allison@maplesprings.org, or call 336.722.7563.