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Men’s group out to make a difference

“This is the most active men’s club I’ve ever been a part of,” said retired pastor Glenn Martin, speaking of the United Methodist Men of First United Methodist Church of Brookhaven.

The group has been in existence as long as the church, built in 1916. For more than 25 years, they have met for breakfast on the second Sunday of every month, always taking off for Mother’s Day, sharing devotionals and planning for upcoming projects.

For those same 25 years, they’ve been hosting an annual fish fry fundraiser to help fund the missions projects they actively take part in and support.

This year’s fry was held Thursday with assistance from Magnolia caterer Smitty Buie. All proceeds will go toward missions.

Their projects include sponsoring local Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America troops, giving to the Mississippi Scholars Program, participating in various mission trips, supporting the American Legion and the Methodist Children’s Homes of Mississippi, supporting Bill and Marie Eddie who are missionaries to Spain, and working with SIFAT Servants in Faith and Technology an organization that works in international community development.

UMM also helps sponsor a Christmas program; the Doug Sullivan Community Thanksgiving meal, serving over 1,000 meals each year; Aid to Infrastructure, a program for underserved areas in Haiti; and providing labor for Habitat for Humanity. For each of the 14 Habitat homes built in recent years in Brookhaven, UMM has installed vinyl siding on each of the structures.

The men are eager to talk about any of the projects they work with after all, their hearts are in each one. They see working to meet needs as their duty, and their privilege. “We’ll help with anything,” said member Larry Moreton. “We just need to know.”

One project they love to support is Camp Wesley Pines, in Hazlehurst. The camp is operated year-round, providing activities almost every weekend on a limited budget. UMM provides a children’s counselor every summer, so the camp has one less salary to pay. Approximately 260 teenagers professed faith in Jesus Christ during the 2016 summer camps.

Blessing in a Backpack is near to their hearts. Teachers and administrators in the Brookhaven School District identify students who may need some help with food at home. A backpack filled with food is provided for each student to take home each Friday, and the student returns the empty backpack on Monday.

A project that began with 28 volunteers now has 200, and they welcome more. Although the program is available only in the city, they hope to expand to the county schools.