Waller church serves up hope and Thanksgiving dinner
By Lindsay Peyton
Even though her congregation at Waller UMC is small, Rev. Cathy Beasley had a big dream. She saw opportunity for outreach, a large building stood behind the church. “We have this most beautiful annex building,” the pastor explained. “I would walk in and just pray, God show us what we’re supposed to do with the building. I heard God saying, Fill it with children.”
Now, that vision is a reality. The Waller UMC annex has opened its doors to do God’s work as a new Hope Center. Through a partnership with nonprofit Cy-Hope, the center will be able to provide much needed services to children and their families.
Most recently, the annex was filled with families for Thanksgiving Dinner the evening of Nov. 10. Genna Peard, Cy-Hope’s director of Hope Centers, explained that each location hosts a holiday event. “It’s basically a full buffet,” she said. “And it’s completely open to anyone who can come.”
Volunteers signed up to make all the sides and to serve. HEB donated turkeys, and the Backyard Grill in Cypress cooked and delivered them. Flyers went out around town, and the social worker at Waller ISD helped spread the news.
At the Thanksgiving Dinner, families were invited to return to the Hope Center in Waller for its afterschool program. Children in kindergarten through 6th grade receive homework help, play games, enjoy snacks and even have sessions on Lego robotics. Each student receives a food bag upon leaving.
As the program grows, Peard hopes to add more afterschool sessions.
Cy-Hope started at the Foundry UMC in 2010. At the time, Dr. Godfrey Hubert, the conference’s disaster relief coordinator, served as Senior Pastor of the church. He was reading a book that asked, “If your church ceased to exist today, would the community miss it?”
Under Hubert’s leadership, Cy-Hope was born to respond to that question. The nonprofit reached out to students at Cy-Fair ISD. The mission remains the same, 10 years later: “Making life better for kids.”
The Hope Centers are just one of Cy-Hope’s many programs. There are five Hope Centers currently. In addition to the location at Waller UMC, three are in apartment complexes and one is in a mobile home community. Waller UMC is the first church that has stepped up to date.
Peard knew Beasley from when the pastor used to work at the Foundry. Then, Beasley reached out to offer the annex behind Waller UMC – at no charge. “It was a no brainer,” Peard said.
Reaching out to students
Usually, the Hope Centers are focused on nearby residents, like the children that live in the same apartment complex where they are located. With Waller UMC, however, Peard is reaching out to all the students at Waller ISD. “I’m trying to get the word out,” she said.
Already, Beasley worked with Cy-Hope to host a Summer Jam. Beasley said more than a dozen students enrolled. “We had a blast,” she added.
The campers made pizza, cooked meals and made crafts. Once a week, they worked on mission projects, including making baskets for Beasley to deliver to the elderly and gifts for mothers at the Waller Pregnancy Care Center. Lunch was provided, and the entire camp was offered at no cost.
Now, Beasley is concentrating on building up the fall program. “My mission is to see the church used as a place for kids to come after school,” she said. “We need to connect with them and give them a place to go.”
Both the Beasley and Peard, who also lives in Waller, are witnessing rapid growth in the area. The average income remains low, and Peard said that there is a high need for Cy-Hope programs. “We can help out so many kids and families,” she added. “The Hope Center is the first step.”
Beasley said partnering with Cy-Hope makes it all possible. “We don’t have the resources on our own,” she explained. “With Cy-Hope as partner, we can get this going. It opens a door.”
Beasley was appointed to Waller UMC in 2017. At the time, she recalled there were questions raised about the church’s survival. She responded, “We never want to limit God.”
Beasley believed that there were great things ahead for the church. “I could see when I first got there, there was opportunity all around us,” she recalled.
When Beasley arrived, about 20 people worshiped on Sundays. The number nearly doubled, before COVID hit. Then, the regular attendance dropped to about 10.
Lately, however, the number is returning to the 20s. “That picked everyone’s spirits up,” Beasley said. “That’s been uplifting.”
In the midst of the pandemic, the pastor admitted to feeling concerned. “Do we go forward or do we hold off?” she asked herself. “We stepped out in faith.”
And that determination has made all the difference. Because she listened to God, the Hope Center in Waller was born. “I’m just in awe of what God has done,” Beasley said.
“For right now, we’re a little Methodist footprint,” she added. “People can see the presence of the Methodist church in their community. And at the end of the day, it’s about what we can do for the community. I just want those kids to have opportunities. And I see great things starting to happen. God is doing some great things.”