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Iron City Church Ďangelsí minister to community, beyond by sewingcomment (0)

June 16, 2011

By Neisha Fuson

The little girl had only sadness in her eyes and no smile to lift her rosy cheeks. She sat by the Mexican hut with a roof made of leaves and branches, her eyes focused on her toes. Slowly, a fuzzy, white teddy bear was laid in her lap, and the edges of her little mouth gave way to the first glimpse of joy.

Stories like this make Angel Mission Ministry (AMM) worthwhile.

In 2005, four women from Iron City Baptist Church, Anniston, first put their sewing skills to work with truckloads of fabric donated by fellow church member Frank Mitchell after his wife, Erma, who owned a sewing business, passed away.

Joyce Vaughn, Sylvia Brooks, Ethelyn Lester and Lucille Bussey had the material in their hands and a mission in their hearts. They decided to start their own form of Woman’s Missionary Union at the Calhoun Baptist Association church and call it AMM.

In the beginning, the women made lap blankets for homebound members of their church.

“Because we started with a little and were faithful with what we could do with it, God has blessed and added to [the ministry] and is still adding to it,” Lester said.

Today nine women make blankets, quilts, tote bags, soft turbans for cancer patients, large adult bibs, wall hangings, teddy bears, baby clothes and more from donated materials. They attach a small angel intricately made of yarn, lace and a cotton ball and wrapped in sheer material to each item.

AMM outgrew its space in Iron City Baptist’s old fellowship hall, so early this year, the church bought a small empty church building across the street to house the ministry.

And even though the women work every Monday from 11 a.m.– 5 p.m., that is not enough time for them.

“We wish we could be here more, even every day,” said Vaughn, AMM leader.

Rosa Pickard, the “angel-making queen,” agreed. “We have a wonderful time down here. It’s the [light] of all our lives.”

Brooks has gotten to enjoy a wonderful time in many countries, delivering AMM products. She said every time, she returns with “renewed strength and energy” to do what she does.

But it’s not just Iron City members who get in on the fun. Neva Gault, a member of Bethel United Methodist Church in Ohatchee, contributes her quilting skills and does whatever else needs to be done.

“I just look forward to going [toAMM] every week. … I think God’s using the ministry,” said Gault, who got involved a year ago.

While AMM donates its products to Baptist representatives, the American Cancer Society, Sav-A-Life in Anniston and really anyone in need, the people who were the reason it started are still its main focus.

“We try to get [homebound] gifts completed if we don’t get anything else done,” Vaughn said.

Although the women visit the homebound to take them a blessing, they all agree they are the ones being blessed.

“Seeing those smiles and doing God’s work is just tremendous,” Vaughn said.

AMM visits 60 homebound people in the Anniston area, all of whom are church members, their family members or people who were referred to the ministry, on their birthdays and at Christmas.

Of course, the women are not alone in this huge task. Several men from the church help move material and build shelves to make the task easier and more organized. Larry and Mary Ann Sprinkle have taken over the delivery aspect of the ministry.

And Senior Pastor Mike Holcomb tries to encourage the women any way he can.

“They do such good work,” Holcomb said. “They call themselves senior citizens, but [AMM] keeps them young and vital. … They listen to announcements at church, and all of the sudden, they are in my office and saying, ‘We would like to do this or send this.’ … I just wish all ministries were like that.”

He was on a trip to Swaziland in February with 18 Iron City members, some of whom are part of AMM. They taught beginner sewing classes.

“The classes packed every day with men and women,” Holcomb said. “That was the highlight of the trip to see that.”

That’s just another example of why the hard work and long hours put in by AMM will continue.

“God’s in [the work] and it’s worth it,” Vaughn said. “He’s blessed too much for it not to be.”

For more information, contact Vaughn at 256-831-0149 or Brooks at ICBCAngelMinistry@yahoo.com.

To view a video related to this story, visit the video library.

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