Tragic fire isn't stopping church's commitment to help the world's hungry
The loss of an historic Mayfield, N.Y. church building this week to lightning and a devastating fire is not stopping a congregation's determination to help the world's hungry.
A scheduled CROP Hunger Walk will continue this Sunday (May 1), despite Thursday's fire that destroyed the Mayfield Presbyterian Church, another of the tragic losses of this week's brutal multi-state assault of storms and tornadoes.
The blaze destroyed the church food pantry.
Photo: Carol Cownie
MAYFIELD, N.Y. – The loss of an historic Mayfield, N.Y.
church building this week to lightning and a devastating fire is not
stopping a congregation's determination to help the world's hungry.
A scheduled CROP Hunger Walk will continue this Sunday (May 1), despite
Thursday’s fire that destroyed the Mayfield Presbyterian Church, another
of the tragic losses of this week’s brutal multi-state assault of
storms and tornadoes.
The upstate New York church housed a community food pantry and was the
meeting point for the local CROP Hunger Walk, one of the country’s
oldest such charity walks and one of some 1,600 walks held yearly across
the U.S. which support both local hunger programs as well as the global
hunger and poverty work of humanitarian agency Church World Service.
On Sunday, Mayfield CROP walkers will start out on schedule, but from a
tent set up outside the church’s charred structure (1:00 PM, Mayfield
Presbyterian Church, 22 North Main Street).
CWS CEO John McCullough rallies the determined Mayfield CROP Walkers.
Photo: Carol Cownie
"It wasn't even a question that we'd continue the walk," Rev. Bonnie
Orth, the Mayfield church's pastor, said today. "It didn't even cross
our mind not to do it. This is a very mission-minded church, and if
anyone can get through this, it's this church.
"People know the church isn't just the building," she said. For now, the
congregation will meet at the Mayfield Methodist Church, across the
street from the destroyed Presbyterian church. Orth said she expects the
church will rebuild.
Carol Cownie, who heads missions outreach work at Mayfield Presbyterian
Church, said she does not know how many people will participate in the
Sunday walk, but expects that community support for the church, its work
and the food pantry will be strong.
"We actually need the CROP Hunger Walk this weekend, to pull us
together," she said Friday, adding: "We're a church that hangs together.
It's the kind of church we are.”
Cownie said it is not yet clear where the food pantry will relocate in
the community, but that support for the walk will underscore the need
for a food pantry in the community of about 6,400 people. Twenty-five
percent of the money raised during the Sunday walk will go to the
Mayfield food pantry.
"Yes, the church burned down, but the big news is that the church is not
a building but the people who do the work of the church with or without
a building," said Douglas Anderson, regional director for CWS and CROP
Hunger Walks in upstate New York.
The building is gone but the Mayfield congregation is still strong.
Photo: Carol Cownie
‘One of poorest per capita income counties in region'
"This is perfect testimony to heroic volunteers who believe in us so
very much," he said, "and in the purpose for which we exist, serving the
neediest people on the planet, abroad, and at home in rural,
poverty-stricken Fulton County of upstate New York, one of the poorest
per capita income counties in our region."
Anderson, whose agency is currently urging Congress not to slash
domestic and foreign aid food programs in the 2012 federal budget, said
the loss of even one food pantry for Fulton County is significant and a
“microcosm of why in these times our nation must continue to provide
assistance for those who are most in need.”
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, email@example.com
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