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Posted: May 29, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Deep roots

Mount Pleasant UMC focuses efforts on helping its neighbors

The roots run deep under the white church house that sits at Hub Junction.

Established in 1861, the first Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church was burned down during the Civil War. Church members had a hard time finding lumber and glass to build a new one, but they did. And the church across from a canola field on Hwy. 278 is right there — in the same spot.

“We can do that”

The can-do spirit of those generations past continues to this day. Senior pastor Leah Cunningham explained the church’s philosophy: that “there’s nothing too great.”

“When God gives you a little, you’re faithful with a little,” she said. “When he gives you a lot, you’re faithful with a lot. So if you take good care of, and are good stewards of what you have, God will increase and give you more. Then you can do more.”

Cunningham, who has been with the church since last September, explained that the church has a positive attitude when it comes to their community involvement and mission. Some of their outreach includes the annual Harriet Cagle food drive and contributions to two food banks. Recently, the church raised more than $6,000 for Relay for Life.
But the congregation is small. Around 40 people attend Sunday service.

“There are several families with deep heritage and deep roots in this community, and they’ve been here for generations,” Cunningham said. “So this community is very dear to them. And so they are always helping somebody.”

The stew cook, local tradition

Members of the congregation boil chicken and pork for hours in big vats out back. Then they pull it apart with their fingers. Once everything else is added, they grind it up together. The result is a tradition that has been in the community for years.

“It’s a 24-hour thing. They work from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning.”

The rest is a well-kept secret.

“Everybody comes around to buy the stew we sell,” Cunningham said of Mount Pleasant’s bi-yearly stew cook.
For $8 apiece, the church sells almost 600 quarts of stew packaged in individual plastic containers when they make the special meals in May and November.

Cunningham does not know how many years the stew cook has been around, but she said it is a local tradition the community looks forward to.

“When we get together, two are stronger than one”

“In the Methodist church we call ourselves a connectional ministry. We’re all connected to one another through our doctrine and through our faith,” Cunningham said.

Locally, Mount Pleasant partners with Covington Mill United Methodist church. The men’s group at Mount Pleasant is currently working to help Covington Mill build their shared food pantry housed at Covington’s larger church.
“We don’t have the facility on our property here to man a food pantry. They do. So we’ll take our labor and go over there and help them,” Cunningham said.

“We consider their kids and their families that are in need part of our family as well,” she continued.

Cunningham quoted Ecclesiastes 4:9. The verse says, “Two are better than one because they have a bigger return for their labor.”

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