Religion News: Port Royal Baptist Church reaches out to struggling Kentucky town

Port Royal Baptist Church volunteers, from left, Margaret Padgett, Loraine Ferguson, Terri Ruff, Marge Bradley, Jordan Ruff, Joyce Bunton and Kiel Seley help sort clothes during a mission trip to Lynch, Ky.
Port Royal Baptist Church volunteers, from left, Margaret Padgett, Loraine Ferguson, Terri Ruff, Marge Bradley, Jordan Ruff, Joyce Bunton and Kiel Seley help sort clothes during a mission trip to Lynch, Ky. Special to Lowcountry Life

When the coal mines of Lynch, Ky., closed in the 1970s, a town lost its major industry and a community was left in crisis.

That crisis continues today for the retired miners and their families, according to Steven Ruff, senior pastor of Port Royal Baptist Church.

"We learned just how fragile one community's existence is upon industry," Ruff said. "Seeing what the coal mines in that town meant, and how a town can go from thriving to there being noting left."

It would be like the military leaving Beaufort County, he said.

Fifteen members of Port Royal Baptist Church traveled to Lynch from April 2-7 to help George and Robin Lewis' Freedom Center, a clothing ministry; John and Melissa Fitzwater's Loaves and Fishes, a food ministry; and Jeff and Linda Sim's Heritage Ministries, which does construction renovation.

The Savannah River Baptist Association had made a mission trip there in 2009, which included some of the Port Royal church members.

The church members loaded up a trailer of clothing, food and building supplies and then delivered it. Once there, the Port Royal group painted, organized and cleaned the Freedom Center. At Loaves and Fishes, they cooked and delivered meals and helped to fill the food pantry. They also hosted an Easter egg hunt at a housing complex. Some of the work done by Port Royal church members included renovation of a bathroom for a handicapped retiree.

"I was sort of shocked at the lack of industry that was there," said Ruff, noting that many families live on a fixed income and there is a lot of need. "There was a fence of despair in the area, even though the mines closed in the late 1970s, that sense of loss still seemed to be there and that is what hit me the hardest."

"You could still feel their sense of loss with their coal mines leaving," he said. "I've seen worse conditions in Honduras and Nicaragua -- third world countries -- but you still see them dealing with the loss of a way of life."

He said as soon as the younger adults finish high school, they leave the area to find employment.

"All of the missionaries in these ministries serve through the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention as Mission Service Corps volunteers," said Joyce Bunton, who was instrumental in organizing the trip. "They do not receive a salary, and it is amazing to see how God provides for their needs."

LowCountry Children's Chorus

The chorus will present its 10th anniversary spring concert at 3 p.m. April 28 at The Baptist Church of Beaufort, 600 Charles St. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. The Savannah Children's Choir also will perform. Both choirs will perform individually for this concert and will join forces on a few numbers. The chorus will present a set with a water theme in honor of the Lowcountry setting. Auditions for the chorus' fall semester are in May and August.

Details: 843-252-4104,,

Carteret Street United Methodist Church

The Carteret Closet Sale of nearly new clothing for men, women and children continues 9 a.m.-3 p.m. April 28 in the Fellowship Hall, 408 Carteret St., Beaufort.

Details: 843-524-3841

Unity in Action Fellowship of Churches

(Church of the Harvest Apostolic, Highest Praise Ministries and Revelatory Ministries)

A free lunch and free clothing will be offered at an outreach ministry noon-4 p.m. April 28 at The Green, Martin Luther King Boulevard and U.S. 21, St. Helena Island A fellowship revival concludes at 11 a.m. April 29 at Highest Praise Ministries, 66 Middle Road, Lady's Island.

Details: 843-838-2119

Resurrection Church

Movie night featuring "Soul Surfer" is at 7 p.m. April 28 at the Life Care Center at the church. The church is at 296 Spanish Wells Road, Hilton Head Island.

Details: 843-689-3625,

Plant the Seed Ministry

Free meals and friendly conversations are 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at the Atlantic Inn parking lot, 2249 Boundary St., Beaufort.

Details: 843-575-2200,

Red Dam Baptist Church, Hardeeville

Eternal Vision, a Christian-based gospel quartet from Knoxville, Tenn., will perform at 6 p.m. April 29 in the sanctuary. The quartet was voted first out of 20 of the best groups at the National Quartet Convention in 2011. The concert is free. The church is at 488 Red Dam Church Road.

Details: 843-784-6083,

Church of the Palms United Methodist, Okatie

Pressanna Grant will present a sermon in song at 10:30 a.m. April 29. Admission is free, but a love offering will be taken. A fifth Sunday fellowship luncheon will follow the services. The church is at 1425 Okatie Highway.

Details: 843-379-1888

Presbyterian Church, Hilton Head Island

The newly enhanced sanctuary organ will be demonstrated in concert following the 9:30 a.m. contemporary and 10 a.m. traditional worship services April 29. Organists Dr. Dede Ondishko and Dr. JooSoo Son will encourage those attending to come near the Rodgers 960 organ so they can see up close the physical actions that stimulate the sounds. The church is at 171 Cordillo Parkway.

Details 843-842-5673

Unity of Hilton Head Island

The Rev. Julia Johnson, senior minister at Unity of Hilton Head Island, will discuss how "when we are tuned into our divine guidance, we always make heartfelt decisions regardless of the outcome" during her talk on "The Good Samaritan" at 10 a.m. April 29 at the Seaquin's Ballroom, 1300 Fording Island Road, Bluffton.

Details: 843-682-8177,

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Beaufort

The Rev. Archene Turner, guest minister, will discuss "Imperfect Stones" at 10 a.m. April 29. Turner and her partner Mary Means work with the Penn Center board. The fellowship meets at 178 Sams Point Road, Lady's Island.

Details: 843-838-1399

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Lowcountry

The Rev. Lynne Garner of the Unitarian Universalists of Coastal Georgia will speak on how Unitarian Universalists approach Jesus and the writings about him in her sermon titled, "What About Jesus?" at 10 a.m. April 29. The church is at 110 Malphrus Road, Bluffton. Details: 843-837-3330

Psychodrama, a form of group psychotherapy, meets 4-5:30 p.m. Fridays at the church. Anyone older than 18 is welcome. Details: 843-682-3191

Union Baptist Church

The church continues the celebration of its 129th anniversary at 7:30 p.m. April 30-May 4 and at 11 a.m. May 6. Churches and pastors joining in the celebration are the Rev. Charlie Powell and GoodNews Baptist Church on April 30; the Rev. Raymond Johnson and First African Baptist Church, Port Royal, on May 1; the Rev. Albert T. Chatman and Bethlehem Baptist Church on May 2; the Rev. Joseph McKnight and Israelite Baptist Church, Lady's Island, on May 3; and the Rev. Charles Griswold and Israelite Baptist Church, Laurel Bay, on May 4. Services conclude at 11 a.m. May 6 with the Rev. Dr. Elijah Washington and First African Baptist Church, St. Helena. Dinner will be served after this service. The church is at 1708 Old Shell Road, Port Royal.

Details: 843-524-8589

First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head Island

Church Family Night is Wednesdays with children's programs at 3:30 p.m. Fellowship dinner begins at 5:15 p.m., and a sports theology series begins at 6:30 p.m. "The Theology of Tennis" with Dr. Emmett Diggs is May 2. The New Voices choir presents "Celebrate Life!" at the 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. services May 6. The church is at 540 William Hilton Parkway on Hilton Head Island.

Details: 843-681-3696,,

Lunch Hour of Power

The Rev. Paul Singleton, associate minister at the Scottville Baptist Church, will speak from noon-12:45 p.m. May 2 at the Lunch Hour of Power, in Helen Galloway's Memorial Chapel, 808 Bladen St., Beaufort.

Details: 843-524-6634

Shell Point Baptist Church

Free, warm meals and conversation are offered 6-7 p.m. Fridays at 871 Parris Island Gateway, Beaufort. The Refining Christian Maturity Recovery meeting will be at 7 p.m. A food pantry also is available.

Details: 843-575-2200,

The Parish Church of St. Helena

As part of the church's tricentennial celebration, the women of the church will hold their 56th annual Spring Tour of Homes May 4-5, which will feature a historic walking tour, a plantation driving tour, a historic church tour and garden tours. This year's tour includes six historic homes in the Point section of Beaufort, as well as six plantations around the Beaufort area and a historic church. In addition to being able to visit the interiors of these homes and plantations and learn about their histories, attendees also will be able to hear docents talk about the gardens.

The May 4 walking tour is 3-6 p.m. A reception with food and entertainment will be held during that time at one of the homes on the tour. Attendees are invited to a free organ concert at 7 p.m. featuring Jonathan Dimmock at the church. This tour is $40.

On May 5, the plantation driving tours begin at 9 a.m. and are held through 4 p.m. A Lowcountry luncheon will be provided at one of the plantations. This tour is $60.

Details:, 843-524-0363

Princess Warriors

"Blueprint for Victory -- Be Holy as The Lord Your God is Holy" is May 5 at The Church of the Cross, Buckwalter campus. A praise band will perform. Speakers will be Melissa Jones, Jeannie Lyles and the Rev. Martha Horn. Lunch will be served. Childcare is available upon request. Food items will be collected for HOOT bags to benefit local children by providing extra food through the weekend. Tickets are $20 a person or $140 for a table of eight.

Details: 843-338-9000

Bluffton/Hilton Head Church Women United

Church Women United will celebrate May Friendship Day at 12:30 p.m. May 5 with a potluck luncheon at First Presbyterian Church in Fellowship Hall, 540 William Hilton Parkway, Hilton Head Island. All women are invited to join the group, which includes women from 19 different congregations in the area. During the new construction at First Presbyterian, the entrance to Fellowship Hall is only by the door on the north side of the church building complex, off U.S. 278 at the traffic light near the Honey Horn Chapel, and opposite the town Fire Station No. 3.