By Marvé Ralston
BLUE MOUND—Nestled in a small town consisting mainly of a gas station, café, bar and two churches is Blue Mound United Methodist Church. The building was built in the late 1800s. This past year, it received a new roof and a new upstairs kitchen and fellowship hall. Worship attendance has increased by 40 percent, and the congregation is more visible to the community as well. This is no small accomplishment in a town boasting 285 in 2008, with a growth of only 2.8 percent since then.
Blue Mound UMC is led by Pastor Dallas Peterson. The church’s restoration, both physically and spiritually, began in February 2008. A small team of three couples began attending the ABIDE program for small church leadership training. The team consisted of Peterson and his wife, Connie, Terry and Jackie Broyles and Nathan and Krissy Beckmon.
Peterson said, “It was a small team, but mighty!”
The ABIDE program is based on an important instruction Jesus gave his disciples related to their life mission: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
By abiding, they would glorify the Father, bear much fruit and prove to be his disciples. (John 15:8)
For the small congregation of Blue Mound to re-roof the church and build a new kitchen and fellowship hall, major sacrifices of both time and money had to be made.
The cost of the new roof was $16,000, with almost half the money coming from members who gave $1,000 each and then raising $7,500. The balance was taken out of the general fund. A roofing company was contracted to complete the actual work on the steep and gabled roof.
Members completed the work on the kitchen and fellowship hall. They now have a bright upstairs space for church dinners and meetings. The hall also is used by the community for reunions and other events.
Improvements to the parking area in front of the church were needed and completed. All these things make the church more visible and inviting to the small community.
These changes are what attracted one woman, who has considered herself a United Methodist most of her life but had not been active for years. She actually thought Blue Mound UMC had been closed but now has been attending regularly for the past six months.
The church building also is being used for an after-school program. Area children were bused from the Mound City grade school, which is 13 miles away. Parents or guardians then provide transportation home for the children. The after-school program is a cooperative effort with Federated Church, the other church in town. This cooperative program has been good for the community, and, according to Peterson, both churches are active and increasing in members.
“We are having fun and growing,” said Peterson. “We have been showing people we are not closed, we are not closing our doors, and we are bringing the Good News to the Blue Mound community.”
To participate in the ABIDE program, there is a $250 program fee, transportation and lodging costs. Funds from the Bridges to the Future campaign supplement the total expenses.
For more information about the ABIDE program, contact your district superintendent.
Marvé Ralston is the Five Rivers District administrative assistant.