The sign on the front of Washington Street United Methodist Church reads
"The Congregation Ministers Here." This is quite evident around the
corner where hundreds of homeless people enter the building each weekday to eat
lunch and to join in fellowship with others. Washington Street's Soup Cellar
has been open since 1979. Through the years as this ministry has grown, other
churches and civic organizations have joined to furnish financial support and
Habitat for Humanity is a popular and important ministry. In 1989, WSUMC financed the building of a Habitat house. In 1992, we participated with other Columbia Methodist churches in constructing a home, which was referred to as "The Methodist House." Since then, we have helped to build a house each year. Washington Street played a major role in getting this project underway.
In 1996, sixteen youths and adults traveled to Tlancualpican, Mexico. They worked with Terry and Muriel Henderson, one of our missionary couples, and performed such duties as hauling rocks, digging a well, building trusses, clearing a road, and making patio stones. This work was in connection with the construction of the new Learning and Livestock Center, which will benefit the Heifer Project of Mexico. In 1993, an eight-member team traveled to Homestead, Florida to renovate homes damaged by Hurricane Andrew. They did an array of repair jobs, with the major contribution being to put a new roof on a home. A group from here also worked in the Oswego community near Sumter to repair homes after Hurricane Hugo. Each year, youth and adults participate in the Salkehatchie Summer Service program. They go to designated areas and repair and improve homes of needy families.
A significant ministry at Washington Street is the HIV/AIDS Care Team. The Washington Street Care Team was one of the first teams to be trained in Columbia and has been a leader in the Columbia area. It is a support team made up of members of the church who have been trained by professionals to provide care and services to HIV/AIDS persons and their families.
Seeds of Hope was pioneered by a Washington Street member and benefits the small farmer. These farmers bring fresh produce to various churches to be marketed. This eliminates the "middleman," thereby giving the farmer more income. Throughout the summer and into early fall, members and other Columbians come to our parking lot to buy wonderful fresh vegetables and fruits from Johns Island. Church volunteers assist the farmer each Saturday at the market.
Washington Street was one of five churches which started the Greater Columbia Cooperative Ministry and is one of the major contributors. This organization provides assistance to families in crisis. It also helps families deal with the causes rather than the symptoms of their financial problems. In recent years, we have increased our contribution, as well as sponsored drives for school supplies and clothing.
During the Christmas season, projects are undertaken such as the Heifer Project, which purchases food-producing animals for needy families in Mexico. Locally, we have the Christmas Tree project, which provides gifts to families who may not otherwise get gifts.
Missionaries are important to us. Washington Street Church helps support Muriel and Terry Henderson in Mexico and Marion and Anita Way and Edith Schisler in Brazil.
The Hendersons are involved with the rural poor and work with the program, "Give Ye Them to Eat," which provides food-producing animals to needy families. Currently, they are constructing a new Learning and Livestock Center.
While the Work Area on Missions is the major organization responsible for missions, Sunday School classes, United Methodist Women, and other groups also carry out their own mission projects. The ministries are too numerous to cover here, but if you have a question or want to volunteer, please call one of the contacts listed below:
Soup Cellar - Alan-Jon Zupan, Chair
AIDS Care Team - Marcia Lane, Chair
Missions in general - Pierce McNair, Missions Committee Chair