By Ken Rose
Last year, less than 20 people from Martha Brown United Methodist Church (UMC) membership sat together in a room after church and committed to the following goals. First, create an opening and inviting place for everyone; second, serve the East Atlanta community outside their doors; and third, expand the children’s ministry.
For many years, the church has been working to upgrade its facilities to support its mission of creating an opening and inviting place for everyone. With funding help from the community, like the East Atlanta Beer Festival, the church has been able to make several significant improvements. One of these was creating a community center that can help strengthen the East Atlanta community.
The road to meeting this goal started a few years ago, with church members opening the church for two hours every Saturday night. Later the community center opened and this ministry has grown. The community center is also home for community groups like NPU-W and others to meet. This year the community center saw about 900 visits for community meetings. The church offers these free of charge to neighborhood community not-for-profit groups.
This community center is now home to an addiction recovery group every night of the week. Throughout last year, the community center had around 8,000 visits to the church for this purpose. This ministry was the church’s first step in restoring its role as an East Atlanta community church.
The second goal for the church was to serve the East Atlanta community outside the church’s doors. Martha Brown began the year last Christmas by offering free food to anyone outside its front doors who wanted it. Every Sunday this year, church members served lunch to anyone outside its doors who was hungry. Afterwards, members also delivered meals on their bicycles to people living under a bridge in West End. Members used their bicycles to reduce their carbon footprint. Throughout last year this ministry delivered about 1,000 meals to hungry people.
When the church was deciding what it could do to serve those around it last Christmas, it reached out to Branan Towers; which is run by Wesley Woods, a UMC mission; to see if they would like to share Christmas dinner. Over 60 residents said yes and Martha Brown members had the joy of sharing Christmas dinner with their neighbors at Branan Towers.
In addition, the church expanded two of its partnerships and continued a third. The first partnership with Action Ministries serves women and children who are homeless. Members continued to sponsor two families that live in East Atlanta and took responsibility for buying Christmas gifts for these children. The church added a second partnership with Street Grace ministries. This organization seeks to stop human trafficking in Atlanta. Tragically, some of this trafficking occurs in East Atlanta on Moreland Avenue right outside of the church’s doors. The church also continued its ongoing service to the UMC Children’s Home.
A third goal for the church was expanding the children’s ministry. The church added a Wednesday night education time, vacation bible school, and reinvigorated its Sunday children’s session. Through this ministry, the church had over 1,200 individual education sessions for children throughout the year. In addition, many children have become active members of the church’s mission in serving the hungry. The older adolescents have helped the adults deliver food to the people living under a bridge, younger ones have helped serve food in the front of the church, and most “waited tables” when the church shared Christmas dinner with Branan Towers.
Martha Brown UMC is a church with a mission of creating a warm, embracing spiritual home for everyone. Last year the church sought to meet this mission by creating an open and inviting place for all people, serving the East Atlanta community outside its doors, and expanding the children’s ministry. Martha Brown is a small church with less than 100 people in its active membership. Through their support, last year Martha Brown UMC had over 10,000 community encounters serving Christ’s mission in East Atlanta. If you are interested in learning more please visit www.marthabrown.org.
Five Loaves and Two Fishes – Martha Brown Servers the Community
By Ken Rose