Thursday, May 04, 2006
Meet Kim and Emory United Methodist Church
This is Kim Porter and she is a loving wife, proud mother of two and active member of Emory United Methodist - a small one hundred-member church located in rural Saluda, South Carolina. I met Kim while driving around the quiet back roads of Georgia and South Carolina one Saturday evening. It was around five thirty when I noticed a sign in front of a Hejaz Shrine Club that read, "Emory Talent Show Tonight at 6pm, $3.00 Admission". The timing was perfect so I went. Kim was in charge of greeting people that evening. She explained that members of Emory United Methodist were putting on a talent show in order to raise money for new church renovations. Hotdogs, chips, cookies, drinks and raffle tickets were for sale. Several members of the church showcased their talent singing gospel and patriotic tunes. Joining in the celebration and songs was Reverend Joyce Murphy, Emory's first female preacher, who has led the church for the past two years. Kim says that Rev. Murphy is awesome and that congregation just loves her and finds her fantastic.
The congregation of Emory United Methodist is made of a wide variety of people and professions including: mechanics, school teachers, office managers, barbers and hairstylists, nurses, and plenty of retired folk who enjoy their time fishing, hunting, and staying at home relaxing. Ralph Shealy, one of the singers in the talent show, runs the local newspaper The Saluda Standard Sentential. Kim says they also have one member, Ricky McCary, who is serving in Iraq with the 122nd Engineering Department. "Ricky McCary has a lovely wife named Stephanie and two cute little boys Jacob and Jonah. They were recently really sick and had to go to the hospital for a couple of days. They are waiting for their daddy to come home in May for a two-week visit," says Kim. "There are 122 men and women over in Iraq from our town right now fighting for our freedom. "
Saluda is a small country town with only five traffic lights, acres of farmland, pine trees and many logging businesses. Kim says there used to be many dairy farms but today only two or three still exist. She also says that they have to drive at least 25 miles to reach the nearest Wal-Mart. Many residents have gardens and grow their own vegetables for food. Kim's husband Randall, a diesel mechanic, says today it's less and less common for people in town to know each other. Many people are migrating to Saluda, especially to the area near Lake Murray. They often come from and commute to the larger city of Columbia, South Carolina. Randall says however that almost everyone at Emory United Methodist knows each other.
Emory's church dates back to 1882 and has seen many changes throughout the years. In 1966 a social hall was added and two years ago they extended the back of the church, adding a large kitchen and area for Sunday school. As Mr. Frontis Hawkins, the oldest member of the church, said, "After that addition it looked so good that it made the sanctuary look rather tacky." Elaborating he said, "One cold day in January a few years ago during a funeral six rather hefty pallbearers sat down on a pew and the center support split causing a noise to bellow throughout the building. Luckily those men didn't fall in the floor, but that caused us to start looking around and we saw that many of the pews were in bad condition. So about a year ago we decided that we would start working with the sanctuary."
Emory hired Church Interiors, a company that specializes in church renovations, to do all their work. All of the pews were sent off to be stripped and re-stained, new chandeliers and carpet were put in and the whole place was painted. Emory's was the quickest renovation that Church Interiors has ever completed. Oftentimes they encounter problems with members conflicting ideas, but Emory was completely united and agreed on nearly everything. One thing Emory is especially proud of is a glass rendition of the Lord's Supper, which sits behind the pulpit. During Sunday morning mass as the sun rises and reflects off the glass, light shifts and colors move throughout the church as the service progresses. Emory invites everyone to come by and check out their beautiful new facilities.
If you would like to donate to the renovation of Emory United Methodist please contact Rev. Joyce Murphy at 3139 Spann Rd. Leesville, SC 29090
Happy Birthday to Kim's little boy, Will, who recently celebrated his eight birthday with a baseball-theme party.
Randall, Kim's Husband
Emory Choir singing Amazing Grace
Reverend Murphy and the Miller Brothers
Short Video from Talent Show
Check out the Bush-N-a-bag. One of Emory's members, Wayne Fulmer, gave me this bag at the talent show. At first I thought it was a purse, and said suprisingly, "Wow Wayne, you make purses?". But it's actually a device used for hunting. I recommend, even if you are not a hunter like myself, to check out his site at www.bushnabag.com.