Church group supports Angel Tree through seed money

Participants in the Seed Project at First Methodist Church in Norwood | Patty Crump

NORWOOD — On Sunday, Dec.16, First United Methodist Church in Norwood praised with a few more smiles and tears than normal — happy tears, that is. It was a day of celebration that called for a prayerful blessing over an altar filled with Christmas gifts.

Weeks ago, the church’s children were commissioned with a special task. Led by Scott and Stephanie Gresham of Norwood, each child was given $5 cash and asked to use that money as a “seed.” The $5 could be used to buy recipe ingredients, supplies for crafts or for whatever the children needed in order to make their $5 grow — hence the name of this assignment — The Seed Project.

The way it works is the children use their cash to create something they can sell — a product like bird feeders, cutting boards, artwork, Christmas ornaments, baked goods, babysitting or yard work services. Each Sunday for three weeks, the children set up a market in between church services, and members of the congregation and visitors purchase their creations.

The project in many ways parallels the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Jesus taught that a master who was leaving on a trip entrusted his money to his servants. To one he gave five talents, to the second two talents, and to the third a single talent. The first two servants doubled their money and gave the original investment and the profit to the master upon his return. The third servant, however, buried his talent in a field instead of deploying it to make a profit. The master was pleased with the servants who invested his money and multiplied the return but was dissatisfied with the third. He reprimanded the unproductive servant and casted him out.

The project’s purpose is to raise funds to contribute to the Angel Tree of Stanly County and other surrounding needy families. The congregation at First Methodist actively assisted the youth with the project with purchases and with their own hard work. One church member, Chris Lisenby, donated his time by smoking pork for families who pre-ordered, and all proceeds went to the project.

After raising funds, each project participant was given an angel from the Angel Tree and $150 cash for shopping. The angel included a name with sizes and list of items, some necessities like school uniforms, shoes, and coats, as well as special items each child wanted.

On Sunday, Stephanie Gresham, who helped to spear-head the project announced that the church had raised over $10,000, which will help 62 children in need. Additional funds will also provide groceries to several area families.

Gresham said that her children had participated in a Seed Project at another church. “We wanted to bring it to our church so that others could experience the blessing,” said Gresham. “Everyone loves it, and it teaches such valuable lessons. Plus, we all get to experience the true meaning and joy of Christmas.”

As the children hauled in packages, many in the congregation expressed their appreciation for the efforts, and there were some tearful eyes. Pastor Bill Roberts led the congregation in prayer before the packages were loaded onto a U-Haul truck donated by Tillery Motorsports.

Dozens of families in Stanly County will experience a better Christmas as a result of the project. The children, like the servants in the parable, yielded the profits of their efforts after much hard work. The congregation at First Methodist seemed to echo the refrain of the master who said, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Patty Crump is a member of the First United Methodist Church in Norwood.