The Missions Committee oversees the benevolence and outreach programs for our church. Our responsibilities include screening requests for support, coordinating benevolence giving while providing oversight of these efforts, and continuously educating the members of our congregation about our activities and the opportunities available to us for service to others.
Scroll down this page or click the link below to learn more about the Opportunities to Serve and the National, Global, and Local Missions that we support.
Opportunities to Serve
The Comfort Makers are a group who piece together comforters for those who can use a lovely warm blanket. Dozens of women have worked on these beautiful creations over the years, each one in unique design and colors, and all made from fabric contributed by members and church friends. They are given to various places such as to Reaching Avery Ministry (RAM), to new Habitat home-owners, and sometimes to a person who is ill or alone or who might just need a gift of love. Anyone receiving one of these useful covers knows they have received an item to be treasured. More than 350 comforters have been distributed since the group began in 1990. Recently the group decided to dedicate and name each comforter in honor of a church member.
Comfort Makers meet each Wednesday morning, 10:00-noon, upstairs above the church offices. They welcome anyone who enjoys the fun and fellowship of creating useful gifts. Members stress that no “sewing skills” are needed; if you can cut or pin or iron or tie nots, you’ll find a job in this ministry. Of course, if you are an accomplished designer or seamstress, you are needed, too!
Contacts for this group: Debi Tornow (387-4914) and Jean Eells (898-5005).
Feeding Avery Families
This ministry provides a monthly distribution of food to those in need in Avery County. Our congregation provides donations of food items, funding and volunteers to make this program work. In addition to food donations from Manna Food Bank in Asheville, our local grocery stores, especially Food Lion and Lowes Foods, generously give items such as meats, bakery, and canned goods regularly. These are an important part of the more than 500 boxes which are distributed each month. For more information, contact Phyllis Clemmer at 898-2093.
Since 1996, our church has been in a covenant relationship with Arca de Noe, a small, rural church in Guatemala, as part of a larger partnership relationship between our Presbytery and two Presbyteries in Guatemala. Members of our congregation have visited regularly, providing assistance with education, housing, drinking water and simply extending this relationship. In addition to these budgeted funds, non-funded, committed funds are donated to support educational scholarships totaling $5,000 to $10,000 per year.
Hope 4 Haiti
Since 1997, members of our church have participated in many mission trips to Haiti, providing medical care, building assistance and Christian support. All of these efforts are coordinated through Grace Mission, based in Florida.
For several years now, our church has sponsored a delegate to go to Haiti to help impoverished peoples in that area. Representatives of our church bring materials and supplies to people in need, and help provide a medical clinic. We read in Romans 10:13-15 “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!””
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is an international Christian organization which builds homes for those who qualify. As one of our covenant ministries, we have agreed to donate funds to the group, provide volunteers, and to pray for its work. Several of our members are regular volunteers and coordinators for the program and since 1991, we have helped to build more than 25 homes in Avery County.
Each Spring, some women from our church participate in a national “Women Build Day”.
Providing both emergency and non-emergency assistance to victims of domestic abuse, OASIS has been in existence since the 1980’s. We provide funds and physical assistance, as well as contributions of needed products, such as toiletries, cosmetics, cellphones, etc. Volunteer opportunities are also available for those who wish to do so. For more information call 828-264-1532.
Prayer Shawl Ministry
The Prayer Shawl Group consists of women who enjoy a time of fellowship while creating beautiful, useful items for anyone who might appreciate receiving such a gift of love, concern and remembrance. Each shawl, lap robe or hug rug is dedicated with prayer and symbolizes not only the warmth and caring of friends, but also represents our being surrounded by God’s love.
Enriching friendships develop amid tea-sipping and laughter as the group spends relaxed time together in ministry. Members of this talented group knit, crochet and weave to fashion their creations. Donated yarn and needles are available or you may furnish your own supplies. Someone is always happy to help beginners or to share patterns and ideas for design.
Everyone is invited and anyone wishing to knit or crochet at home (maybe as you winter in Florida) and contribute shawls is encouraged to do so. You are also invited to suggest names of people who might enjoy “a hug” represented by one of these shawls.
Cathy Richmond (898-9019) coordinates this ministry.
Reaching Avery Ministries
Banner Elk Presbyterian members consistently support the work of this local agency. RAM (Reaching Avery Ministry) consists of a food pantry and thrift shop. Gifts of food, good used clothing, household items and money are contributed to assist those in need in our area. Items needed are soups, canned vegetables and fruits, meat substitutes (ravioli, hash, etc.), and disposable diapers. These items can be left in the box in the office vestibule of the church at any time.
“It’s Time for a Change” is an on-going project of the Outreach Committee. We are working with RAM (Reaching Avery Ministries) to help provide diapers and powdered formula for low income young families who cannot afford these items. You can help by purchasing disposable diapers and / or powdered infant formula. The request is for diapers that will fit babies of 15 pounds or larger. Please do not purchase preemie or newborn diapers at this time. If there is a need for these , we will inform you later. Or you can help these babies and families by mailing a check made out to Banner Elk Presbyterian Church with the notation “It’s Time for a Change”. We will shop for the needed items for you.
For more information about RAM, contact Janet Millsaps at 828-733-5127.
The Shepherd Program as part of our Congregational Care Committee is a means of helping nurture, encourage and support members of the church family.
Two people volunteer each month as Shepherds. Working closely with the pastor, they seek to convey God’s love and our church’s concern in ways they think will be helpful. This ministry may include phone calls, notes or cards, visits or gifts of food during times of celebration, illness, stressful family situations or bereavement.
Volunteers are always welcome to assist with the Shepherd Program with is coordinated by Debi Tornow (828-387-4914).
Volunteer Avery County
Volunteer Avery County has been providing assistance to those in need since 1992. It has been providing emergency food, fuel and funds to those struggling with poverty. This program seeks to help people who have fallen through the holes in our system’s safety net. Among many other varied services, the program also coordinates construction of handicap access ramps for those in need. For more information, please call 828-737-0718.
Art in the Sanctuary
The talents of our parishioners are amazing beyond belief and we tap into those talents and present exciting worship experiences with music, visual art, poetry, photography, children’s writings, drama, fabric art, pottery and many more.
Each month, the work of one of our artists is featured in the Sanctuary. An inspirational bible meditation accompanies each work. CLICK HERE to view the work and read about each artist.
Avery Project Christmas
Donations of toys, gifts and money are given by our members to RAM, which coordinates a program to help selected, needy families at Christmas. A “store” is set up for two days so that parents can select and wrap gifts for their children at no charge. For more information, contact Susan Carter at 828-898-5728.
During the last Sunday of the month, families bring in their pennies and loose change that they put into a canister at meal time, remembering those who do not have food. Amazingly, this small amount has grown enormously, enough to help people throughout the region, including our own.
The Freezer Campaign
Thanks to EC Newman, we have a freezer that is set aside solely for us to freeze meals that can go to recipients who need them. Whenever you have a leftover meal, please feel free to put it in the freezer; date it and tell us what it is. It also doesn’t have to be complete meals; desserts, sides, all work well when we have to pull something quickly and don’t have time to cook. If you don’t have a freezer container, there are several sizes along with labels on the top of the freezer. Anytime you know there is someone who needs a meal, please feel free to “raid the freezer.” That’s what it is for. You don’t need to inform anyone. The freezer is “hidden” in the utility room at the back corner of the fellowship hall. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call Janet Speer at 828-898-5943.
Lees-McRae College Ministries
Our church sits adjacent to the LMC campus which was founded by Rev. Edgar Tufts during the same era as the beginning of our church, Our service and financial outreach to Lees-McRae students takes two forms. Part of it supports CLUTCH, our college fellowship, while the remainder supports the two spaghetti dinners we provide for the students prior to exams at the end of each semester.
Little Free Library
The Mealtrain is an online program, free of charge to groups like ours, that organizes and reminds us of the opportunities to serve meals to those who need one. Janet Speer is the administrator and she can add your name at any time. Once you are a member, you can sign up for a date to take a meal to one of our recipients. It will let you know where that person lives, special food requirements and other pertinent information. It will also remind you that you have agreed to take a meal. Whenever you cannot get the meal to recipient, Janet can take it for you. For more information Janet Speer at email@example.com.
New Opportunity School for Women
Operating in conjunction with Lees-McRae College, NOSW provides education, counseling and mentoring for women from this region. These services help improve their career and social skills, thus benefiting themselves as well as their families. Our Christmas Eve offering this past year was dedicated to this program.
Thanksgiving Food Boxes
Our congregation provided 45 frozen turkeys and boxes of food sufficient to feed a family for a week this past Thanksgiving. This assistance to persons in need is coordinated with RAM.
The Daniel Plan
The Daniel Plan meets weekly on Wednesday at 3:30 in the Fellowship Hall and kitchen.
The Daniel Plan is a faith-based program designed to help with weight loss (if needed) but to also re-wire our thinking about health. In addition we use our collective knowledge to seek new ways to find a “better self” as we move into our mature years.
The Daniel Plan stresses five “Fs”
- Faith – We can better serve God if we are in good health; we know that our belief tells us we should treat our body as a temple.
- Food – We are becoming new “foodies” and each week make a recipe in the kitchen that is delicious but healthy and nutritious
- Focus – We learn how to re-wire and focus our thoughts so we can resist unhealthy foods and to seek out physical activity takes our fitness to a new level.
- Fitness – We discuss ways to increase physical activity, taking into account various body limitations and needs.
- Friends – Because we are in this plan together, we can talk with one another about some of the tactics we are using; what is working and what it not. We discuss our frustrations and successes. We have learned that a weekly meeting helps us keep focused on the goals.
Walking with Shadows
Walking with Shadows is a support group that meets to discuss, share resources and discover new ways of coping with family and friends with mental challenges. Pastoral Counselor Rev. Brant Piper, MDiv, leads the group, which meets monthly on the second Monday at 7pm. This subject is seldom discussed but mightily felt and should be addressed by people of faith. An important part of our group is to find ways that members can place themselves in a healthy mental state so they can better serve their loved one. Any further questions may be directed to Janet Speer firstname.lastname@example.org.
Banner Elk Presbyterian Preschool
Our preschool for two, three and four year olds is an outreach program for our community providing developmentally appropriate Christian Education at affordable prices. We operate from 9:00 to 1:00 in our church classrooms four days each week, providing enrichment activities for children. The goal of the school is to provide for the intellectual, emotional, physical, social and spiritual developments of our students through hands-on creative play.
Blue Ridge Partnership for Children
This newly restructured organization (formerly Smart Start) provides programs, assistance and funds to families of children under five years of age to be certain that these children are prepared to begin school, maximizing his or her potential. A new emphasis is on reading readiness using the Imagination Library program, developed by Dolly Parton, in which each child, birth to 5, receives one book a month to create a home library of age-appropriate books.
Christmas Joy Offering
This offering supports retired ministers and church staff who need assistance, as well as Presbyterian-related schools and colleges. CLICK HERE for more information.
Company of New Pastors
This is an organization within our presbytery providing mentoring assistance and support for pastors during the first five years after graduation from seminary. CLICK HERE for more information.
Grandfather Home for Children
This 100 year old ministry, founded by Rev. Edgar Tufts during the same era as the beginning of our church, continues to provide both residential and non-residential support, counseling and treatment for abused children from our region.
The home is now part of Children’s Hope Alliance. CLICK HERE for more information.
Living Waters for the World
This ministry was begun by the Synod of Living Waters (PCUSA), based in Springdale, Tennessee, during the 1990’s. They train and equip teams of volunteers to carry portable water treatment systems to communities in countries where they are needed, set these systems up and teach the people there how to operate and maintain them.
Missions Committee Discretionary Fund
This fund, begun in 2014, is designed to provide flexibility within the budget structure to deal with unanticipated missions outreach needs.
One Great Hour of Sharing
This special offering at Easter supports Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program and the Self-Development of People program, coordinated by our General Assembly.
Presbyterian Psychological Counseling
We are pleased to have a satellite office of Presbyterian Psychological Services here at Banner Elk Presbyterian Church. The office is staffed by the Rev. Brant C. Piper, an ordained Presbyterian (USA) pastor and a NC Certified Pastoral Counselor. He provides counseling services for individuals, couples, families, and adolescents, takes some insurance, and offers services on a sliding scale for those who don’t have insurance. Presently Rev. Piper is offering office hours on Mondays with additional times available on weekends and weekdays per previous arrangements. You can reach him on his cell at 704.779.4922; you can learn more about Presbyterian Psychological Services at www.presbypsych.org.
Presbytery of Western NC
These funds support the work of the Presbytery. 85% remains with the Presbytery, 1.4% is forwarded to the Synod and 13.6% goes to the General Assembly.
Overseen by Avery County Schools, SCOTTIE is a mobile pre-school classroom, staffed by a certified teacher, which delivers educational enrichment opportunities to disadvantaged children in Avery County who are unable to participate in traditional programs.
Souper Bowl of Caring
This special offering, held on the Sunday of professional football’s Super Bowl, and coordinated by the students in our college fellowship (CLUTCH), provides food and funds for RAM to feed persons living in poverty in Avery County. Our financial contributions are matched by the Presbytery’s Hunger Committee funds to increase the impact.
Yellow Mountain Enterprises
Begun in 1989 in the basement of this church, this program provides vocational, residential, social and support services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They provide a wide variety of work, scaled to the unique abilities of their clients, believing that all people deserve the opportunity to lead productive lives and earn a paycheck.