Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, received a $10,000 grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, a non-profit corporation and extension ministry of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. Money from the grant was used toward purchasing a new minibus.
Previously, the only vehicle available to church groups such as Seasoned Shepherds—the church’s older adult ministry program—was a 2001 15-passenger van with 90,000 miles. Its temperamental heater and air conditioner made it uncomfortable for all passengers while a tight entry and exit space made accessibility difficult at best for many senior adult riders.
“Things went from bad to worse during a Seasoned Shepherd’s day trip in June 2018 when the van was sideswiped on the driver’s side by someone driving a pickup truck with a trailer,” said the Rev. Jeremy Squires, pastor of Good Shepherd UMC. “The impact tore off the van’s side mirror and damaged the front door to the point where the driver was unable to open it. Fortunately, no one was injured but most of the van’s passengers quickly said they would never again ride in the van.”
With the van’s drivability and safety in question, congregation members began to think about replacing it with something that would allow for greater accessibility and comfort for all of the church’s would-be passengers. “We had groups using the van for everything from youth mission trips to homebound and nursing home visits to Room in the Inn transportation,” said Squires. In August, the Church Council met and approved purchasing a minibus.
Replacing the van with a mini bus would address many issues and needs. Now, all church members needed was a way to pay for it. Starting with a donation and fund-raising challenge from the church’s volunteer pastor of Congregational Care, the Rev. Louise Cole, church members raised $47,300. A $10,000 grant from The Golden Cross Foundation covered the rest of the minibus’ cost, thus enabling church members to pay cash.
Today, the bus is a blessing for all who use it. Senior adults particularly enjoy easier access to passenger seats and everyone loves the smooth and comfortable ride. Already it’s been used to transport youth to retreats; Seasoned Shepherds members on day trips; Room in the Inn guests for an overnight stay at the church; and Let’er Fly Choir members to visit homebound members.
“We are amazed by the blessing God has given us,” said Squires. “Thanks to those who stepped out in faith and contributed money for the minibus and to the generous Golden Cross Foundation grant, we now have safe, comfortable, and reliable transportation for church members and guests.”