Hindman United Methodist Serving with Appalachia People

August 24, 2006

The Hindman United Methodist Church and the Mennonite Central Committee partnered to begin the SWAP (Sharing With Appalachian People) Ministry in Knott County. Their mission is first to “proclaim Christ and demonstrate His love in a practical way by renovating the homes of low income home owners and secondly to introduce SWAP volunteers to a life of Christian service and an appreciation for the Appalachia people and culture.  


This year six teams of between 20-27 people a team came to work in the SWAP ministry. They were from Canada, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas. They slept and ate their meals at the church. They renovated the homes of about 25-30 families with roofs, decks, handicap ramps, floor repairs, plumbing and electrical problems and a host of other repairs.


The Hindman United Methodist Church supplied location, some equipment, material storage, some administrative support for the coordinator, lodging and cooking facilities for SWAP Teams, some transportation vehicles, help with meals, other volunteer involvement, some material, financial support, a year round church family for the coordinator couple, and their family.


Representatives from the church joined the SWAP Staff to welcome each work team on Sunday evenings. On Wednesday mornings and Thursday evenings, the church assisted in providing meals for the work teams. During the workweek, Pastor John Shroll visited each site to meet the homeowners.  Church representatives attended the Friday night celebration when homeowners, SWAP staff, and Work Teams met for a meal, to reflect on the past week and to share in a worship service. For follow-up, each week a visitation team from the church calls on those who had their houses worked on the previous week.


The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) provides most of the financial support of the missionary couple who coordinates the ministry and their three children who help in the ministry. The MCC also provides the bulk of the administrative support, the vehicles and most of the funds for the projects (some is raised by the SWAP volunteer work-teams) and supervisory support from the Regional Coordinator located in Harlan. The Hindman Settlement School (HSS) supplies the missionary family the year-round housing and free access to its dining hall.


The objectives of the SWAP Ministry are to: 1. Demonstrate the love of Jesus to people in the community by renovating homes of low income residents of Knott County to keep the homes safe, warm and dry. 2. Declare the faith Jesus taught us when relationships are formed as a result of serving in the community. 3. Introduce the Christian SWAP Team Volunteers to a life of Christian service by giving them the opportunity to engage in helping ministries, build relationships with people from a different background and culture than their own and gain understanding of and appreciation for the Appalachian people and culture in Knott County. 4. Make disciples for Jesus Christ as the Hindman United Methodist Church has the opportunity to meet, follow-up and hopefully build a relationship with those helped by SWAP.