Midway UMC forms ecumenical partnerships following hurricane


Special to the Advocate

Two partnerships created by Midway United Methodist Church following Hurricane Katrina demonstrate the body of Christ.

The church in eastern Jackson County has formed relationships with Trinity Pentecostal Tabernacle, a congregation located just east of Midway, and Christian Aid Ministries, an Ohio-based Amish-Mennonite relief organization.

Trinity Pentecostal sustained major damage to its building and decided to raze and rebuild it several feet higher. Since the hurricane, the Trinity congregation has been worshipping at Midway on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings. Although there are a number of family ties between the two congregations, they had little interaction prior to the storm.  Since then, the congregations have participated in each other’s activities, including Christmas Eve and Easter sunrise services.

Early on, Midway wanted to get involved with the relief effort, but didn’t have the needed facilities to house teams effectively. Christian Aid Ministries had established a base in Pensacola and its teams were driving back and forth each day. The need for a closer base came to Midway’s attention through a member for whom CAM was working. CAM installed temporary showers in the restrooms and built a dormitory in the Recreation Center.  Its staff lives in RV’s on the property. CAM’s volunteers come from all over the country, but are mainly from the Midwest.

Midway pastor Garry Ruff says the Mennonites’ presence in the building has been a blessing to the congregation as well as the community. Mennonite staff and volunteers often attend worship at Midway, while congregation members participate in the Mennonites’ Thursday evening a cappella hymn sings. Recently, women in the church participated in a baby shower for the wives of two of the CAM staff members. A Mennonite youth chorus from Tennessee spent several days at the church while presenting concerts at churches in the area. CAM is expected to remain at Midway at least through July.