Churches combine to help community

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 4, 2011

By Nathan Hardin Since starting Grateful Heart Ministries in 2007, Johnny and Brenda Morgan increased their congregation to about 70 people and began providing food to more than 500 Rowan County residents.

By day, the Morgans own and operate Morgan’s Carpet at 4260 S. Main St., and at night they work to process and organize deliveries to 134 homes. The other aspect of the church’s mission is to set up religious revivals throughout the county, Johnny Morgan said. Grateful Heart was one of three churches that combined resources and volunteers last week to offer free food, clothes and Bibles to anyone interested at the J.C.

Price American Legion building on Old Wilkesboro Road. The event averaged more than 150 visitors each night. Friday night capped the end of the weeklong revival that was composed of four tents covering food and clothes, with the largest tent sheltering a Christian worship service. The other participating churches were God’s Tabernacle for Believers out of Rockwell and Potter’s House Outreach Ministries. Morgan, who has owned Morgan’s Carpet since 1989, said Grateful Heart delivers to homes in all areas of the county and that the business operates separately from the community outreach services. “I do all the applications for the boxes here in my place of business,” Morgan’s wife said. “They just have to bring in their driver’s license and ID.” Morgan said four of the church’s members help to load and unload the large packages for those approved. “We give them a week supply of food.

They can pick up once a month,” Morgan said. “It’s close to 100 lbs. of food per family.” Processing the applications often takes up to six hours after working a full day, Morgan said. “The voicemail will get full,” Morgan said. “Sometimes they’ll call real late at night and I just keep on going.” Many of the assisted families donate items to the church to help other families in need. “Even though a family needs assistance, they can still help other families ’cause every family needs a different type of assistance,” Morgan said.

Morgan said the church looks to set up revivals any time an open lot is offered for their services. “We go into bad areas. … It’s not about us,” Morgan said. Alonzo Jones, one of Grateful Heart’s food service volunteers, said being at the revival was “awesome.” “It’s warming just to let the people know there’s still hope,” Jones said. “There can still be a change in somebody’s life.” Pat Charleston, another volunteer, said she was excited about the revival’s turnout. “It does my heart good,” Charleston said. “They can come get spiritual growth, not just food and clothes.” According to Johnny Morgan, the church has also recently begun to increase involvement with the county’s prison ministries. “We got involved in the prison ministries through Pastor Long,” Morgan said. ‘A New Life’ Reggie Long, pastor of Potter’s House Outreach Services, dedicated his life to prison ministries after a life-changing event. He was freed from prison. “I gave my life to the lord,” Long said. Long served 12 years in prison, some of that in Rowan County, and said he made a pact while behind bars to dedicate his life to the Church if ever released. “I’ve been out 13 years,” Long said. “I married a chaplain. We went to work in prisons together.”

Long did not disclose what he was charged for, but said when he returned to prison in 1997 as a pastor, the feeling was “overwhelming.” “It was just an awesome feeling,” Long said. “Some (inmates) were just as excited to see me come back in as I was for going back in.” Long said three inmates were allowed to temporarily leave prison to give testimonies at the revival. ‘Tragic Motivation’ According to Reginald McConneaughey, the pastor of God’s Tabernacle for Believers in Rockwell, the revival was the first time in 21 years that a revival has been allowed at the Legion building on Old Wilkesboro Road. McConneaughey said being back on the property is an emotional experience for him after the 2007 death of a Treasure Feamster, a 13-year-old Knox Middle School student. Feamster was shot and killed by a stray bullet on March 17, 2007, in the parking lot outside of the J.C. Price Legion building. McConneaughey, who presided over her funeral at Livingston College, said it was a tragedy that still haunts the community. “That has really motivated me,” McConneaughey said. “We reach out to the young people.

We have a lot of young people at our church.” Nine suspects were arrested and charged in connection with Feamster’s death. McConneaughey said the shooting was gang related and that he believes the allowance of revivals in the neighborhood may be a turning point in the community’s direction. “If we don’t reach out to them, they may reach out to other things,” McConneaughey said. “Her death had a great impact on my life.” Morgan said the pastors had not previously combined for a revival, but that he hopes the organizations can continue to unite services in the future. “If our churches work together, we can do so much more in these areas,” Morgan said. “We’re definitely looking to do more,” McConneaughey agreed.