Action, Not Words

February 1, 2021


Action rather than words! This phrase became the guiding force for Peace Lutheran Church, Memphis, Tennessee, as members designed a ministry to help alleviate community hunger in summer 2020. With leadership from Meredee Taylor, Outreach Committee Chair, Peace Lutheran’s food insecurity ministry grew from the scripture of “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat….” (Matt: 25:35).

Phase one of the five distribution periods focused on individuals, and 142 boxes of long-lasting produce, such as potatoes, carrots, and fruits, were distributed. Phase two served needs of families by including more substantial foods like chicken, eggs, and cheese.  This phase was supported through funds received from an ELCA Southeastern Synod COVID-19 grant.  Peace Lutheran’s efforts were enhanced by an array of advertisements, alliances with various community resources, and assistance of community volunteers.

To recognize the importance of volunteer workers in achieving the goals of this inclusive ministry, Meredee Taylor penned the narrative below to describe Margie Wilcox (not actual name), one of the many outstanding volunteers who helped make the project successful.

Margie, a longtime resident of Memphis, TN, and the VECA (Vollintine Evergreen Community Association) is a tireless volunteer. Every Monday and Wednesday you can catch her walking down Jackson Ave. to Peace Lutheran Church ready to help prepare food and serve the community. Margie is frequently pulling her own mobile food pantry better known as a cart to bring her own donations to the lunch program. Like so many others who receive gifts, they also give what they can in return.

Living in the Peace Lutheran neighborhood, Margie and her family can also be counted as part of the many suffering with food insecurities and was a benefactor of the Summer COVID-19 food Insecurities distribution. One distribution day Margie received her food and ended up giving it to a neighbor who needed it more. This did not go unnoticed, as the Peace Lutheran volunteers quickly put together a second box for her.
Margie does not know a stranger and is ready to hold a conversation with those she meets. She proudly discusses her children, the military and working for several faith based local radio stations, as well as working as a case manager for the American Red Cross.

Margie was introduced to Pastor Tonie Robinson (now deceased) while visiting Peace Lutheran church during community fellowship. Margie says that during this time she was under a great deal of stress as she transitioned from mother to granny. She found Tonie “interesting” and noted that she had a sometimes irritating “jubilant high spirit,” so she (Margie) decided to volunteer. Not only did Margie volunteer, but she has recruited others.

Margie is just one of many volunteers dedicated to the Peace Lutheran Outreach programs. Although everyone’s story is different, they are also the same, in their desire to help others. Volunteers are the backbone of outreach.