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Umatilla Church Expands Space for Ministries

posted on January 04, 2015, under Church by

Umatilla Church recently purchased the adjacent Hill Top Plaza property to expand their ministries, including a Food Pantry for the community. (Photo: Google Street View)

Umatilla Church recently purchased the adjacent Hill Top Plaza property to expand their ministries, including a Food Pantry for the community. (Photo: Google Street View)

Interim Pastor Albert Ellis and his wife, Elaine, serve lunch to visitors on the opening Sunday of Umatilla Church's Community Services Food Pantry. (Photo: Winston Robinson)

Interim Pastor Albert Ellis and his wife, Elaine, serve lunch to visitors on the opening Sunday of Umatilla Church’s Community Services Food Pantry. (Photo: Winston Robinson)

by Geri Bower, Julien Joachim, Heather Markham, Becky Russell

On September 21, 2014, Umatilla, Fla., Church members dedicated the newly purchased Hill Top Plaza adjoining the church property. Interim Pastor Albert Ellis led the dedication with Florida Conference Vice President Conrad Duncan offering words of encouragement.

One week later, the Community Service Food Pantry opened its doors as the only food pantry serving the community on Sunday. On that first day, visitors received lunch and a Steps to Christ booklet, and more than 150 of them took home food from the pantry. When one worker apologized to a client for having to wait so long, the person replied, “Oh, I’m enjoying being here.”

While volunteers, including Michael McHone, left, were delivering food to cars from the Pantry, a little girl was overheard saying, "Mommy, these people are so nice." (Photo: Winston Robinson)

While volunteers, including Michael McHone, left, were delivering food to cars from the Pantry, a little girl was overheard saying, “Mommy, these people are so nice.” (Photo: Winston Robinson)

A welcoming registration area in the pantry includes a television with repeat infomercials, bookcases with free books and DVDs, and a waiting area. Personal Ministries volunteers, directed by Edith Tokics, are available for prayer or visitation in an adjacent overflow area with more free materials and a television showing the Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN) channel.

The plaza currently houses the Community Services program, directed by Becky Russell, and the Food Pantry which is open one Sunday each month. Additional church ministries, including Pathfinders, youth, health, and temperance, will move into the seven-unit facility when existing leases expire in December.

Led by former Pastor Jim Appel, Umatilla Church members tried to buy Hill Top Plaza a year ago, but the owner didn’t accept their offer. Members made another offer this year—$70,000 less than the asking price—and the owner accepted. Appel transferred to another district shortly before the closing, and Umatilla member Jack Bennett facilitated completion of the purchase and became director of the property.


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