Drawing a bead on storm relief


By Woody Woodrick

Advocate Editor

A Madison woman stands as a living example of how a small gesture of giving can grow into a big ministry.


Working almost by herself, Mid Purvis has raised about $2,400 for the disaster relief fund at Madison United Methodist Church. Purvis sells crosses she makes from Mardi Gras style beads. All proceeds from the crosses go to the church’s relief fund.


“I had some beads I had found while cleaning out my daughter’s closet,” said Purvis. “My husband said I should take them to Goodwill, but I wanted to hang onto them. I found a cross my daughter had made for me from some of the beads.


“Later, while laying in bed, it came to me that I could do that to raise money for the disaster relief fund.”


Thus, Beads of Hope began.


Purvis began making the beads on Sept. 11. She twists the strands of brightly colored beads into a cross. Prices vary according to the size of the beads and cross. Each cross is placed in a plastic bag with a note explaining the purpose of the crosses. She had sold the beads outside the Kroger supermarket in Madison and at the Canton Flea Market, a local retirement home and the church.


Purvis said her original goal was to raise $100 to $125. However, the beads — for which she charges $1, $3 and $5 — have become popular. Others in the church and community have donated beads. For example, her mother posted a flyer about the beads at the distribution center run by Jackson’s Christ UMC. Several people dropped off beads for Purvis to use. She has turned 1,500 strands into crosses.


“I make them at my kitchen table, in the den or wherever else,” Purvis said with a laugh. “I’ve done it all myself as far as making and packaging them. My mother, Grace Spears, has been helping me take them to different groups. Between the two of us, we’ve been selling most all of them.”


As others donate the beads, Purvis said she purchases the plastic bags, so 100 percent of the purchase price goes to disaster relief.


The success of Purvis’ project doesn’t surprise the Rev. Joe Landrum, associate pastor as Madison UMC. “God takes the gifts and talents that we offer and adds to them and employs them to the benefit of all His people,” Landrum said.


Now Beads of Hope is preparing to expand. Purvis said she seeks sponsors to contribute the cost of a $1 cross that will be given to someone on the Gulf Coast. “I want to deliver some of beads with an inspirational message to give to people on the coast hope and encouragement,” she said.


Landrum said another possible use of the beads could be putting them in baskets the church traditionally makes during Easter for homebound members.


Madison UMC has an active disaster response ministry. The church is an official Red Cross shelter. More than 100 people stayed in the church prior to and after Hurricane Katrina. The church has also organized work teams and been involved in other recovery efforts.


The beads aren’t just popular in Madison. They’ve reached as far as Delaware. St. Paul’s UMC in Wilmington, Del., has been partnering with Madison UMC in providing disaster relief. The Delaware church has provided money and other support for the Madison shelter and is exploring other ways it can assist. A member of St. Paul’s has family in the Jackson area and happened to be going into the Madison Kroger one day when Purvis was selling the beads. The visitor bought several packages and took them back to her associate pastor, who had just read about the project on the Madison UMC website.


Members of Madison UMC have a strong sense of mission, Landrum said. He cited a recent decision by the Adult Ministries committee to put together flood buckets. The church purchased the items for the buckets, and volunteers made 150 buckets in half an hour.


“I think people here are very responsive to needs. When they see a need they begin to think creatively about how to respond,” he said.


Landrum said he sees strong theology in how Purvis offered the idea to the church and the resulting growth.


“I really do think this is where the theology of the Holy Spirit comes to life,” he said. “One times one gets you one. But if you go five times five, you get 25.


“In our community, when we have these ideas, we can do them on our own or bring it to a missions committee or the administrative council. People ask how we can improve on this or empower that. As we engage in holy conferencing, there is a multiplying effect that goes far beyond one times one.”


To support Beads of Hope, contact Madison UMC at 601-856-6058.