Memphis UMC mission teams 'sell stock' so others may invest in their work

Memphis UMC mission teams 'sell stock' so others may invest in their work

7/18/2013

Mission trip volunteers from St. Luke's UMC served the Appalachia Service Project in Perry County, Ky., this summer. Submitted photo

By Casey Northcutt
Wall Street brokers offer stocks in companies, but St. Luke’s UMC in Memphis, Tenn., offers stock in mission trips.
 
When 35 of the church’s youth and adults wanted to take a mission trip in June to Perry County, Ky., they raised funds, in part, by selling “stock” to other church members. Beth Ryan, St. Luke’s director of youth and young adult ministries, said the church has been raising money this way for several years as a means of funding trips to help with the Appalachia Service Project (ASP).
 
“We offer folks an opportunity to invest in our experience,” she said.
 
In return for buying stock or giving donations, Ryan said members receive letters before the trip and postcards during. They are also invited to a post-trip slideshow presentation as honored guests.
 
“We have a pretty good amount raised from that stock sale because people, I think, are interested in wanting to be a part of our experience,’ she said. “Some people physically can’t be a part of it by helping us get there. It’s a good opportunity for our whole congregation to be involved in our trip.”
 
And the church has a vested interest in this particular ministry. Ryan said St. Luke’s has worked with ASP for at least 10 years, helping the service organization build homes for low-income families in eastern Kentucky. This year, six crews performed repair work on six homes, laying down new tin roofing, underpinning a mobile home, building porches and stairs and repairing a bathroom ceiling. Because these crews worked simultaneously and required separate vehicles, Ryan estimated they spent around $2,000 on gas alone.
 
But, she says the time and money was worth it to build relationships in that part of the state.
 
“Just getting to know people who are different and come from a different world, so to speak … I think is what makes the biggest impact on folks,” she said.
 
According to the youth minister, the chance to change these people’s lives is a great opportunity—one she hopes to have for years to come. Ryan hopes to continue St. Luke’s relationship with ASP and send other volunteers to minister in eastern Kentucky.