Gulf Coast Family Church of the Nazarene. It’s a big mouthful as far as the names of churches go. This might be because the heart of the church is big enough to warrant a lengthy name. Never is that more evident than at Christmas.
Pastor Lamar Courtney served as a youth pastor in Florida and a pastor in Kentucky before coming to this beautiful church that sits almost on top of the county line separating Jackson and Harrison Counties. While serving at his previous posts there was a program in place that helped families have a Christmas they might not have had otherwise.
“We noticed a need in our community and tried to help meet it”, said Pastor Courtney. The need he spoke of was Christmas. “There are plenty of families that might not be able to buy gifts for Christmas, for whatever reason. Maybe the main breadwinner was laid off from work. Maybe there is a serious illness in the home. We aren’t worried so much about what caused the need. We just want to help meet the need.”
The need, of which Courtney speaks is Christmas. Everybody looks for joy and encouragement during the Christmas season. It can be very difficult to have a joyful Christmas if you cannot give someone a gift, a token of love and appreciation, to those closest to you. Gulf Coast Family Church of The Nazarene, seeks to help fulfill that desire, making it possible to give the ones they love something that communicates that love.
The church helps meet that need by donating any item that is in good condition to the church. People from the community are then invited to come take a limited number of items, at no charge, that they can then give as gifts to their families. The church also provides gift wrapping, at no charge.
Dianna Fenster was one of the main people responsible for organizing this year’s Christmas Free Garage Sale. I asked her what the response is to an event like this. “There’s a great turn out. We average about 100 people who come and pick out gifts,” she said. When I asked her what the best part of the event was, she replied, “People really get into the Christmas spirit. We collect most of the items from people in our church, but we’ve noticed that some people from the community bring items from their homes to donate. They feel like if they’re going to take something they should leave something as well. It’s the epitome of Christmas to give as well as receive. It’s great to see so many people be able to have a Christmas they might not have otherwise.”
The free garage sale offers toys, household goods, clothes, and so much more. And although the free garage sale has already passed this year, please remember them for next year. Those Christmas gifts you receive, that might not quite tickle your fancy, don’t re-gift them. Donate them to the free garage sale and help others have a Christmas they’ll never forget. And…if by chance you’re looking for a church home, you might try The Gulf Coast Family Church of the Nazarene, the church with the big name, and an even bigger heart.