Community, clean-up and cranberries.
All were served up at Hilton Head Presbyterian Church on Sunday.
What started as the Rev. Bill McCutchen flipping hamburgers for first responders last Monday evolved into the entire church coming together, serving more than a hundred homes in the surrounding community and inviting people back to the church for turkey, gravy, potatoes and pecan pie.
Saturday alone, the church served close to 1,500 meals. Four hundred of them went to Tabby Walk, where flooding remains an issue a week after Matthew raged through the apartment complex.
Throughout the week, parishioners from other churches joined ranks with Hilton Head Presbyterian’s volunteers.
“We’re amazed to become this conduit to the community,” McCutchen said.
‘My heart is overjoyed’
A group of volunteers knocked on Thelma Byas’s door last week bearing food and water.
Just off Wild Horse Road, Byas’s home was in need of a new roof. Her yard was littered with debris.
The group of parishioners helped put a tarp over the roof to save the interior.
They raked and chainsawed their way to a lawn with dignity.
And then they stood with her and prayed.
“I’m overwhelmed,” the 74-year-old said. “I’ve got a roof off, I’ve got trees down, but I’m still standing. My heart is overjoyed.”
The group continued to visit Byas throughout the week, delivering a hot breakfast and lunch for several days.
The group invited the woman, her daughter and her grandson to services Sunday.
Byas, a parishioner at a different church, clapped and danced along with the music.
“I’ll be coming back to worship with them,” she said.
Friendship more than service
McCutchen’s homily compared what the island went through in the past week to a storm the Biblical David endured.
“In the story, the yards look like it’s been stripped bare. Pretty good context for us this week, huh?” he asked the congregation. “David walked out and saw what we see.”
Like David, the community endured.
After the service, McCutchen broke the congregation into groups.
One was the chainsaw team.
Another was the people who should never have chainsaws, he joked.
Ninety-one homes are cleaned and cleared, McCutchen said.
Another 50 will be finished throughout the week.
When all returned to the church, at 235 William Hilton Parkway, the line for food stretched 75 people deep.
Robin Perkins stood in that line talking with Carl Campbell and his two sons, Karyc and Kaseem.
Perkins was one of 10 parishioners who helped clean up the Campbell’s yard off Spanish Wells Road.
“They took away two weeks of work for me,” Carl Campbell said. “We were jumping for joy.”
Campbell worked side-by-side with the church group for two hours to clear the five trees strewn across his lawn.
“When you see what’s happening in North Carolina (in terms of race relations) and what’s happening here, it’s night and day,” Perkins said. “I’ve never seen people come together like this.”
And that was the overarching goal for the entire week, McCutchen said.
“We want friendship more than service,” he had said just before the groups set out into the community Sunday morning.
He added that he hoped for the shared community meal becomes a weekly tradition.
As community members mingled with parishioners — just as McCutchen had hoped — his vision for a weekly meal will become a reality starting next Saturday.