Small Churches, Big Hearts
Nestled in a thicketed area of East Texas called the “Paradise of the Pines,” are two Methodist churches pastored by Reverend Richard Gillet: Latexo UMC and nearby New Energy UMC. Twenty-five of Latexo UMC’s 35 members are active in outreach, and most all of the dozen attending New Energy are involved in missions with story after story to share.
“Every Sunday in our prayer time” shares Pastor Gillet, “I mention the richness and the abundance we have and I remind our congregations that, with even as little as some of us have, compared to others -- we are indeed rich.”
Both Latexo UMC and New Energy UMC, believe in sharing with others. Volunteers from both churches collaborate for VBS, Fall Festival and Easter egg hunts as well as joint Bible studies on occasion.
“Every year I stand in the middle of Main Street and collect money and food for the Lord's Community Storehouse,” shares Pastor Gillet. “People come up and give me bags of food and I am thankful. People come up and hand me money and I am thankful. There is one man who personally hands me a hundred dollar bill every year and that helps greatly. But last year was special. As I was standing there, a little old lady drove up to me in a car that looked like it was on its last leg. When I told her I was collecting money and food for the Lord's Storehouse, and that we provide food for needy people year round, she opened her purse. She dumped the contents of her tiny coin purse and put 57 cents in my hand, telling me that was all the money she had until her Social Security check came in next week. She told me to please take it as someone could probably use it more than she could.”
He adds, “I had just witnessed the scene in the Bible where Jesus in Mark 12: 44, told the Disciples: They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on. That is a lesson we could all live by. If a hurricane hits or wildfires rage, we do all we can to answer the call.”
Several ladies at Latexo UMC recently finished 10 Build-a-Bears and have more to work on before delivering them to the nursing homes in nearby Crockett. Additionally, there are always willing volunteers to make receiving blankets for newborns and lap blankets and bibs for seniors in the community. Crockett’s food and clothing center knows whom to call when they need something for needy families; they call the Methodists. “At their request, we are in the process of purchasing underwear and socks, collecting food for the holidays and we’re donating toys for the Empty Stocking program. We also give to UMCOR and the Methodist Home in Waco.”
To minister to the local school, the churches provide a meal and cookies for the employees several times a year. “When we walked in that first time with a full spaghetti dinner with all the trimmings, it almost brought tears to the school superintendent’s eyes. He said he had been at the school for 12 years and no one had done anything like that before,” Pastor Gillet shared.
New Energy UMC did a reverse garage sale for several families in need. “The church gathered furniture, bedding, clothing and such and put it in the fellowship hall and invited the families to come take what they wanted. We even delivered it for them, and sold what was left and put the proceeds in the needs bucket for the next project.”
Notes Pastor Gillet, “We aren't big, but we do have a big heart.”