Meet the pastor: The Rev. Bill King (religion)
There’s a little white church nestled in the center of town known to many as simply the “beans and rice” church. This would certainly be an accurate title and one that the Rev. Bill King and his congregation warmly embrace.
In 2003, King began serving at Trinity Episcopal Church. Although the congregation was small, the little church began to grow and wanted to reach beyond themselves to better serve those in our community. King shares how feeding the hungry became one of their defining characteristics.
“Early on, one of the ladies said we need to do something for the community, not just for ourselves. I talked to my brother, who is a Presbyterian pastor in Arkansas, and he explained that they had started a beans and rice ministry,” King said. “Everybody would receive 3 pounds of uncooked rice and 2 pounds of pinto beans and anything else they could come up with. I thought that was neat, and our folks decided to do it the first Saturday of every month.”
What started out with the feeding of around 15 families has now grown to feeding 140 families on a monthly basis.
“We serve the people with food. Our ministry of food sharing is based upon the command of Jesus to feed the hungry,” explains King. “This ministry has so evolved that almost every member of our church is now involved, and we have over 90 members. It has transformed this church.”
As part of their food ministry, the congregation at Trinity also provides the Chilton County Department of Human Resources with four to five large bags of groceries for families that are waiting for food vouchers to fill the time in between when food is scarce.
While many understand the spiritual or theological component to such a ministry, King explains the practical side.
“Over 20 percent of the population of Chilton County has food insufficiency. That is a real, technical term that means someone lacks the resources to purchase food for their family for an entire month,” he said. “There may be five days a month when a family is lacking food. Our ministry is focused on that population.”
While feeding the hungry is a beautiful characteristic of the members of Trinity Episcopal, the congregation has expanded the ways in which they give back to those in need. Their newest ministry, Laundry Love, was formed last year in partnership with Suds R Us owner Tom Cuthbert.
“Once a quarter, we have free laundry night at Suds R Us. We put a sign out on U.S. 31 and from about 3:30-7 p.m., we offer this ministry,” King said. “We did this the week before school started so kids would have clean clothes. We also offered it again around Labor Day, and the week after Christmas, which was great, again, for getting the kids back to school.”
King is especially excited about the next laundry night because it will be held during Holy Week. “This Holy Week on Maundy Thursday, rather than washing feet as Jesus asked us to do, we are going to wash clothes,” he said. “At 6:30 p.m. on Maundy Thursday, we will set-up a table and have the service of communion as people are getting their laundry done. We will be there from 3 p.m. on and they will be welcomed at the Lord’s Supper, and we will have all the prayers of Maundy Thursday.”
King and the parishioners of Trinity Episcopal Church work diligently to meet the needs of the poor, whether it be through the provision of a meal or offering a free laundry ministry. They have a heart for service and for sharing God’s love with all people. They strive to make everyone feel loved and welcomed.
“I believe one of the greatest illnesses in our culture is that people do not feel loved,” King said. “When they feel judged and not loved, their self-esteem diminishes and they behave badly. We need to let people know they are loved. People do not hear that enough.”
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12
Chanel Bingham is a freelance writer, blogger and public speaker. She resides in Thorsby with her husband and four children. You can visit Chanel at www.thepolishedcanvas.com or on Facebook at “The Polished Canvas.” Her column publishes each week.