As part of the continuing partnership between the Kentucky Annual Conference (KAC) and the Red Bird Missionary Conference (RBMC) members of the Kentucky Conference have been participating in Immersion Weekends sponsored by the RBMC. Four districts will be hosted on each of the three immersion weekends. The first Immersion Weekend was held March 11-13, 2010, and the participating districts were Bowling Green, Columbia, Corbin, and Frankfort. Upon arrival at Henderson settlement on Thursday afternoon, participants were given an overview of what to expect at their time in Red Bird. They were given information about how Henderson Settlement was begun in the 1920s by a Pineville Methodist Minister and a general overview of RBMC.
The next morning participants boarded buses for the long ride over mountainous roads to the Beverly Campus of RBMC, which houses the De Wall Senior Center. Immersion Weekend participants viewed a presentation on the senior center and the services it provides. Senior citizens gather there 3–5 days a week to fellowship, make crafts, and receive a hot meal. Many seniors, as well as other residents of this area, live in rather isolated alcoves and they really enjoy this time together to socialize. Not only does the senior center do on-site ministry with the seniors who come to them but also provides care and ministry to those who are unable to come to the Beverly Campus. Their community ministry includes Meals-On-Wheels, in-home care visits, and non-emergency transportation. As Zetta Bowling, director of the senior center, says, “The relationships we build are with people. We hope to be the hands and feet of God.”
Next it was on to the Queendale Campus, which houses the community store, the crafts store, the work camp, and the medical and dental clinics. Immersion Weekend attendees saw how items donated to the community store are sorted and processed in order to be sold to the general public. Proceeds from the sale of items at the store are put back into Red Bird, but not all items are sold. The community store also provides clothing and furniture for people who have to leave their homes and find themselves either homeless or just having to start over. The store provides clothing vouchers for people who have been victims of fires or have had to flee an abusive situation. The craft store displays and sells artwork by local artisans; the proceeds of the craft marketing program provide economic opportunity for artists within a sixty mile radius of Red Bird Mission. While at the craft store, many of the weekend participants showed their support of the artists by making purchases.
The next stop at the Queendale Campus was at the medical and dental clinics. The clinics attend to the needs of community residents by offering x-rays and other typical medical treatments. They also offer a holistic approach of ministering to the total person. One of the family care services the clinics offer is working with the Hear the World organization, which offers hearing screenings and hearing aids to those in need. Hear the World also does follow up training and adjustments to ensure that the hearing aids are being used properly and the recipients are pleased with the results. Another family service is Grow Appalachia, a partnership with Berea College that is helping 75 families start gardens, thereby insuring that those families, and possibly their neighbors as well, have fresh produce.
After touring the Queendale Campus, the group moved on to Phillips Fork Church to meet the pastors of the churches that will be partnering with each district. The KAC/RBMC partnership will pair a congregation in the Red Bird Conference with a district of the Kentucky Conference. Each district and church pairing will form a relationship where both groups share blessings with one another and learn things from each other along the way. The four districts on this trip are paired with the following churches: Frankfort District – Middle Fork UMC and Beech Fork UMC, pastor, Phil Bell; Bowling Green District – Lower Beech Fork UMC, pastor, Steve Springer; Columbia District – Combs UMC and Lothair UMC, pastor, Dan Griffiths; and Corbin District – Hope UMC, pastor, Mike Tupper.
All 12 KAC districts are participating in Immersion Weekends and the partnership with Red Bird Conference. Check with your district office for details and to learn how you can participate in the partnership.
Touring the School