Planting the seeds of community in Ellerbe

By: By Christine S. Carroll - Staff Writer

ELLERBE — Even if all things are possible with God, having a little money doesn’t hurt — especially when you’re trying to keep people fed, their power on and their youth occupied.

Which is why about 100 people of different races and denominations gathered Saturday evening at the Sidney Grove Agape Center in a “fellowship service for all people.” They were there to worship together, to sing and be sung to, and to make good things happen in Ellerbe by donating a few dollars.

“We’ve sort of been spreading it (good works) around,” said Brimshaw Chambers, a member of the Men of Destiny, who have been together about six months and who sponsored the service.

The group of seven men have procured food, cut lawns and, in one dire case, helped someone whose house burned down start anew.

The men take Romans 8:28 as their charge: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

On Saturday night, they invited like thinkers to join them, regardless of faith or the lack of one.

“We are churched,” said James Robinson, “but we are reaching out to everybody.”

The evening meshed several styles of service.

In her resonant voice, Pastor Mary Lindsey of St. John Missionary Baptist Church read St. Luke’s exhortation to care for one’s neighbor.

Pastor Shawn Morrison of Rourk Evangelical Presbyterian Church asked God to help his people “call out evil” taking the forms of “prejudice, bigotry, pride (and) racism.”

And keynote speaker Pastor Stan Layton of First Presbyterian Church, P.C.A., charged everyone to pray together to address “mankind’s dreadful condition” and to fashion believers with the power over sin and evil.

Despite the mention of evil and sin, the evening was mostly joyous, especially the strong baritone of Albert Everett of Sidney Grove, who sang of “the hope that lies within,” and the lively concluding anthem, “We Are the World,” sung by the praise team at St. John’s church.

That group served as a final reminder of why everyone had gathered: to help the local children through the building of a community gathering place.

In the congregation sat 90-year-old Annie J. “Mother” Buie, one of the founders of the 49-year-old Mineral Springs Improvement Council, whose chief project is the building such a center.

During the ceremony, Berry promised Buie that she would be around to see the project completed.

“I’m here to plant a seed,” Ellerbe Mayor Lee Berry told the gathering, in a voice fractured by illness. “I’m challenging y’all, I am asking y’all — and I will beg you. We need more Men of Destiny. I want to see 77 (by) next year.

“We’re going to get this building up and going. You,” he said, turning to Buie, “will get to see this building.”

That brought a grin to Buie’s face. To think of seeing the community center finally built, she said after the service concluded, “I’m so excited I don’t know what to do.”

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By Christine S. Carroll

Staff Writer

Those interested in joining the Men of Destiny may contact any of the members, all of whom are from Ellerbe: Bishop Arlester Simpson Sr. of the Sidney Grove Church of Deliverance, Marcus Armstrong, Lee Berry, Anthony Capel, Brimshaw Chambers, Fred Cloninger and James Robinson.

Those who wish to donate to a Mineral Springs community center may send donations in care of Bishop Simpson, Post Office Box 796, Ellerbe, NC 28338.

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]