Church revives community outreach program

by Alan Hodge

Cook’s Memorial Presbyterian Church Mission Sunday organizers Penny Love (left) and Audrey Brady stain wooden crosses during the day’s mission projects. (Alan Hodge/MIM photo)

Members of a Mountain Island church recently honored a beloved member’s legacy by reviving a dormant mission program after more than 15 years.

On March 25, more than 100 volunteers with Cook’s Memorial Presbyterian Church fanned out across the area to take on tasks such as giving blood at the Community Blood Bank and working in the church’s communal vegetable garden.

The idea for setting aside a Sunday where members donate their time and energy to the surrounding community began in 1996, when the late Shirley Prince launched a similar endeavor. Prince’s daughter, Penny Love, teamed up with her friend Audrey Brady to organize the March 25 campaign.

“Mother said she got the idea of a Mission Sunday at a Presbytery meeting,” Love said. “She felt if others could do that, we could, too.”

Even though Brady and Love took charge in planning the one-day event, they credited the rest of the church for turning it into a reality.

“It takes more than two,” Love said. “The other church members are very generous by taking on unpleasant tasks such as spreading mulch in the rain to make others happy.”

While volunteers washed cars and visited homebound members during the first Mission Sunday, this year’s event expanded upon Prince’s vision with plenty of good deeds to go around the community. Members kept busy throughout the day sorting food at Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, a Charlotte area food bank; entertaining children at Alexander Youth Network, a behavioral healthcare center for kids with serious emotional and behavioral difficulties; holding a Sunday school service for residents at The Laurels, an assisted living center in Huntersville; cleaning up trash and debris at a nearby creek; and making gift boxes for African children.

Some members painted walls and planted flowers at two homes that the church plans to use to house homeless women. Others sorted clothes at Lydia’s Loft, a First Baptist Church Huntersville ministry that provides free, donated clothes to needy residents in north Mecklenburg and south Iredell counties.

Bryant, who took part in the 1996 event, said she felt ready to relive that great day from 16 years ago.

“It was something I remembered doing with my children, Chris and Carrie, when they were 8 and 11 years old,” she said. “I wanted to do it again.”

Although it took years for the church to repeat Cook’s Memorial Mission Sunday after the 1996 event, Love said that’s not likely to happen again.

“I hope it will become an annual event,” Love said. “I’m sure there are people who would take part every year.”

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