Mission Barn Ministry Continues to Grow


Eastbrook Mission Barn Director Nelson Thayer reported this week that "despite the snow, we have been making real progress on our ministries." The Mission Barn, which serves as an official UMCOR Depot, has developed a network of satellites to collect kits and donations of relief supplies. 
"Volunteers will be glad to hear that we have taken serious steps to complete the indoor bathroom project," Thayer said.  "The old Milking Parlor has been transformed - with glass block windows, new double doors, insulation in the ceiling, a new floor, and drywall - into an almost livable space.  It will still be a while (waiting for the money to catch up) before the composting toilet is installed and the space is heated... but we hope to be fully functional by late spring!"
The Mission Barn passed a mile marker  in late January, Thayer added. "We have either shipped or prepared for shipment $1.5 million worth of UMCOR material supplies in four years.  The best news about this is that the pace of our kit ministry is increasing - it took three years to reach 1 million shipped, and only 1 year to add another 1/2 million." He estimated that the Conference contributions of material support for UMCOR had increased four-or-five-fold.   
"In 2013 we received more than 3,500 empty School Kit bags - hand sewn by UMW volunteers across the Conference," Thayer noted. "This donation demanded that we begin to purchase kit supplies in major quantities - something that we had not done before this.  The result is that we have 15+ pallets of School Kits (over 4,200 kits) ready for shipment - and 1,200 empty School Kit bags still to fill!"

The completed kits were scheduled to leave around Feb. 17 for distribution in Armenia, the Republic of Georgia, and Syria.  In the previous two weeks, UMCOR shipments had been sent to South Sudan, Lebanon, and the Philippines.  Western PA churches and volunteers are truly having an international impact through their support of UMCOR and the Eastbrook Mission Barn, Thayer said.

As of mid-February, according to Kathy Kraiza at UMCOR's Sager Brown Depot,the most-needed kits were:

  • Layette kits
  • Sewing kits
  • Bedding packs
  • Health kits
  • School kits
The Mission Barn satellite depots made great strides in 2013, according to Thayer.  The first satellite at Park UMC in North East, PA has grown into a strong producer of UMCOR kits, and is becoming known in the Erie-Meadville District as a site for dropping off UMCOR materials.  The Harris Hill UMC (Harris Hill Go!) satellite near Buffalo, NY recently responded to flooding in the Buffalo area and is now well known in its District and the Upper New York Conference.  Cooperation between the Harris Hill and Park UMC satellites greatly assisted in the Harris Hill flood response.
At the Eastbrook Mission Barn, Thayer said the board has taken steps to develop a Strategic Plan for leadership transition and continuance of the mission agency.  "We are now tracking all donors and encouraging them to make regular undesignated financial contributions to EMB.  The need for undesignated giving was made particularly clear in 2013, when we received a huge amount of money for Cleaning Buckets, while money for other UMCOR kits all but dried up," he pointed out.

After its first five years of ministry, he reported, the improvements initially planned at the Barn are nearly complete. They included: 
  • Construct an area for building ramp modules - done 2008
  • Create a heated space for volunteers to work - done 2009
  • Improve the warehouse floor - done 2010
  • Build a loading dock to handle 18-wheel trucks - done 2011
  • Widen the culvert on the access road - done 2013
  • Organize shelving and storage for Disaster Response materials and equipment - partially done 2013
  • Create additional heated storage for Cleaning Buckets, and install indoor bathroom facilities - under way (2014).
To learn more about the Mission Barn or to volunteer, visit wpaumc.org/missionbarn