United Methodist Pastor Does Whatever It Takes to Serve: Veterans and Hungry Children
By Lindsay Peyton
Maud UMC is known in the community as the place to go for those in need. The church provides over 5,000 meals for hungry children each summer and has joined forces with a non-profit to serve veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Rev. Ross Hyde jokes that he is known as the “crazy preacher.”
“I’m out there,” he said with a laugh. “I’m not normal.”
One day, he’s in a suit; the next he’s in jeans, helping out at the thrift store or in the trenches, helping wherever he can. He asks his congregation to call his cellphone so they can find him, since he’s not one to be in his office for long.
“You’ve got to do whatever it takes, whether it’s handing out food or cleaning out a gutter,” Hyde said. “We’re a church that cares.”
One of his favorite jobs as pastor is connecting others to outreach work. “Tell me what you’re passionate about, and I’ll help you,” he said. “And everyone here is passionate about serving the Lord and helping their brothers and sisters. When you see a person has a passion, you can’t stop them.”
Finding a home at Maud UMC has been a blessing for Hyde, who grew up with a strong sense of service to others. He is now entering his ninth year with the church.
“This church is the oldest in the city of Maud,” Hyde said. “This faith community has been here since the inception of Maud.”
He explained that the city’s founder Samuel Knapp donated property for both the city and the church. Since the beginning, faith has been at the backbone of the town, he added.
“The church is still a hub, because people see God’ love,” he said. “They see it in the action of the church.”
Take the Friendship House Mission and Thrift Shop. It started more than four decades ago when the home of a church family burned down. A volunteer offered to take donations.
“The stuff never stopped coming,” Hyde said. “It went from her garage to a little building.”
The church helps out at the local food pantry, hosts a Scout troop and also celebrates its seniors every week with a free meal and game of bingo.
Maud UMC offers the local probation department community service hours – from working at the thrift shop to mowing lawns for seniors.
“We care about our community,” Hyde said. “No matter who you are, you are loved. If you are hurting, we’ll do anything to help you out.”
The church also offers a summer feeding program for students. Last summer, children from a 20-mile radius came for the free meals, which totaled 5,300.
In addition, Hyde joined forces with Matt Fisk, founder of the nonprofit Lancer Legacy Ranch, to transform a vacant probation office into a center for a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) program for veterans.
In the past year, the center assisted 15 vets who were in need of housing and helped another 20 with PTSD. The Friendship House keeps the facility stocked with paper products, and church members serve on the nonprofit’s board. Veterans often help with the church’s outreach, from serving seniors meals to hosting holiday fundraisers.
Hyde is seeking sponsorships for veterans served in the nonprofit. “People don’t realize that you don’t have to give a lot but every bit counts,” he said. “For veterans, some of the treatments they need, they don’t receive. You have to have the funds.”
As a child, Hyde said that his parents taught him, “You can’t expect people to care until they know you care.”
That’s something that always stuck with him. “It’s a privilege that the Lord has allowed me to serve here,” he said. “God is using this church. We don’t go a day without seeing God in action in some place.”