The First United Methodist Church in Eden, N.C. has passed its 100th birthday, and is congregated in a beautiful structure built in 1939 by a vibrant and large group of community oriented members. The congregation has aged, and this church faces many future decisions as the group becomes smaller, the building needs preservation, and program management becomes more difficult with the reassignment of the pastor to include two churches.
This past year my mother became the longest recorded member of this church (who is still living). We speak of her church and the changes weekly because she is concerned. We also talk about the intricacy of the stained glass windows, the long aisles with an overlooking balcony and a beautiful oak altar that is handcrafted to encompass the entire width of the church sanctuary. This altar is the place of baptisms, communions, marriages and funerals, but its main purpose has been for all the occasions that prompted kneeling. The altar was open at every service for those who wanted to profess their faith, bring a concern for prayer, or for those who fought their battles on their knees. There was a trust that, in kneeling during times of decision making, a door would open for Godly guidance and counsel. Many times, the minister would leave the pulpit to go and kneel in a prayer for listening and understanding. We were taught that our prayers were not for seeking confirmation, but for a promise of direction and a way to sort out good advice from bad advice while on our knees.
There are so many decisions in our daily practice at the clinic. This clinic at ABCCM grew out of a community “hope” and has been hard at work in 2017 taking care of patients and paying attention to the changes in healthcare on local and national levels. The Medical Ministry has continued to be a partner in our Community Safety Net and the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. Our volunteers have fostered a program of medical practice that welcomes our patients like they are family and considers each patient individually as decisions about their healthcare are made.
Our volunteer family lost a member this year in the passing of Dr. Stewart Altman who provided in-office surgical services to the clinic patients. Dr. Altman came to the clinic after he unexpectedly relocated to Buncombe County. He had been on a vacation to Asheville when he lost his home to a hurricane in Louisiana and “just decided to stay”.
In knowing about the clinic and all of the volunteers, it is the hope of the staff that you will continue to include the Medical Ministry as you kneel in prayer:
- For energy to keep these services thriving and staffed.
- For healing for all of our patients and especially those who have received diagnoses that will change or end their lives.
- For our volunteers as they care for a group of people who are without funds for medical services.
- For our community leaders as healthcare decisions are made.
- For all of ABCCM’s volunteers who reach out with grace, mercy and lovingkindness every day.
“Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” Isaiah 58: 7-9