The Family of Faith Fellowship in Arden nourishes children of its congregation and nearby community members in many ways, including with free meals on Wednesdays that propels the Christmas spirit year-round.
The Pentecostal-affiliated church was established in 1991, 21 years ago, and has 125 members, office administrator Pat Roland noted. It is at 212 Long Shoals Rd. (N.C. 146), near Lake Julian Park and across from Valley Springs Middle School. Service was originally held in a house there, before the church was built on the property in 1995.
Pastor James King has been senior pastor for the past 10 years, after 10 years as associate pastor — a role Bob Roland now fills. Enka-Candler native King has helped lead three churches, over a span of 40 years. Helping others “feels extremely rewarding,” he said. “You’re accomplishing something worthwhile.”
His wife Judy runs the overall children’s ministry, does decorating and “anything else that needs to be done,” Pastor King. Judy noted how Pastor King “cares about people, and wants to help them. He’s on call, ‘24/7.’” Their grandson Philip King, 24, an auto detailer in Canton, said his grandparents outside of church activities, too, have long “taken care of needs of family, friends and strangers.”
Family of Faith Fellowship plans to move to a new 18-acre site at Glen Bridge about three miles away, and build a structure nearly twice the size of the current one, Pastor King said. He figures it should take up to a year to build, that plans are to begin construction in fall of 2013 and complete it by fall 2014. That is within two years from now. The more spacious property has room for a playground and picnic area.
King said negotiations are ongoing to sell the current site, which is at a prime location, and anticipated proceeds would pay for the new facility and start-up expenses.
“We want to expand to do more of the ministry we do here” on a larger scale, such as day care and meals, Pastor King said. He plans to add free clothing distribution, and very possibly ministry for single mothers and temporary shelter for the homeless.
“Family, faith and fellowship” are hallmarks of the church, prompting the name Family of Faith Fellowship, Pastor King noted.
For instance, on Wednesdays a complimentary meal for people of all ages is served by 6:15 until 7 p.m when a religious service begins. Donations are accepted, for the meal. Turnout is 30 to 50 people including youth, Pat Roland noted. “It’s good to see they’re being blessed,” Mrs. Roland said. She is among those who helps serve the meal, and oversees the women’s ministry outreach. The menu follows state lunch guidelines. Wilma Taylor is a cook.
Studies indicate many Buncombe County school children do not bring required school lunch money and miss out on meals. Therefore, the church helps fill a nutritional void. Also, working parents lack time to prepare and eat dinner after work in time to get to church that evening, Pastor King said. Thus the church meal is “a convenience, to allow them to attend when otherwise they couldn’t.”
The church regularly buys food at a discount from Manna Food Bank, and “distributes to people in need,” Pastor King said.
The church on weekdays houses area children in Kids Quest day care to 6 p.m., at a substantial discount, Day Care Director Debi Stanaland said. “We keep our charges quite a bit under rates of most places,” to make care affordable and not taking too much of a slice of working parents’ earnings, she said. “It’s a ministry, to help children and families whose parents have jobs.”
There are 35 to 50 children with most after school and a dozen in preschool, Stanaland said. She has run the day care since it began 2009. Her daughter-in-law, Heidi Stanaland, is program director, for preschool and has her three-year-old son Eli enrolled.
Five others work part-time. They are Julia Bryson, Gladys Cliff, Brandy Helton, Mahogany Stokley and Michelle Taylor. Most are paid. A few volunteers tutor, such as in reading, in “homework helper” time. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is among favorite books children bring in.
The church has a billiard table, and centers for reading and arts and craft. In this past week, children drew images of Christmas in other countries. Games are played on a computer, with one for older children and another with simpler ones for preschoolers. Weather permitting, children play outside. They often go on field trips when school is on break and thus youth are at the center all day instead of after-school, Debi Stanaland said.
With a new year soon upon us and tough financial times lingering, Pastor James King urges people to “trust the Lord. He’s the supplier. Scripture tells us he’s the one who gives us the power to get wealth. And he provides us with our basic needs.”
Further, he said, the truest joy of Christmas goes beyond gifts. “In times like this, we should evaluate things that have real value. Not ones purchased with a lot of money,” he said. Specifically this means “your family and friends — people we take for granted. We should also cherish our freedoms, such as to assemble in a church.”
For more information on Family of Faith Fellowship, call 684-2158.