GOLIAD—A 65-member congregation in a town of 2,000 is committed to making a difference in the world.
Members of Minnehulla Baptist Church in Goliad demonstrate a willingness to give themselves away to show God’s love locally and globally, Pastor Ira E. Antoine Jr. said.
By meeting needs ranging from food vouchers for the hungry to school supplies for public school students, the church seeks to “bring joy and hope” to people in need, he noted.
“Our church is in a rural area. We have one grocery store where our people purchase food and other supplies,” Antoine said.
Minnehulla Baptist Church works with the local grocery to give $25 food vouchers to people in food-insecure households. The church also enables people to secure essential supplies such as cleaning products, but vouchers cannot be used to purchase alcohol or tobacco products.
“Our voucher program has three goals,” Antoine explained. “We want to help those in need with food vouchers, be a service to others, and to bring joy and hope to people.”
To enhance the church’s visibility and public witness, youth from the congregation volunteer at the store sacking groceries.
The church works in partnership with two local organizations, Goliad Ministries Alliances and Goliad Food Pantry, as well as with other congregations to reduce food insecurity in its area.
Churches around the state also have a role in the hunger-fighting ministries of Minnehulla Baptist Church through their gifts to the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, which support hunger relief and development ministries in 30 countries and in communities throughout Texas.
Minnehulla Baptist Church also supports public education by providing school supplies and clothing for students in need through its “Give-Back Event.”
The church works with the local school superintendent and principal to identify students whose families are unable to provide all their children need for school.
“Our backpack program is one of our successful ministries,” Antoine said. “A father of two students came in and said: ‘Thanks to Minnehulla Baptist Church, I can buy food to feed my family this week. My children needed backpacks. I couldn’t buy both backpacks and food.’”
At the beginning of the school year, Minnehulla partners with Terry Glover, a licensed barber and a bi-vocational pastor of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Goliad, who provides free haircuts to students.
Minnehulla also sponsors a variety of other ministries, including a cowboy camp for children, leadership conferences and multiple programs for youth—all provided by a church with no full-time staff.
Antoine began ministering as interim pastor at the church about a dozen years ago and was called as its 20th pastor in 2009. He also works as director of bivocational ministry with the Baptist General Convention of Texas
With a goal “to give ourselves away,” Minnehulla Baptist Church has continued in recent years to increase its giving through Texas Baptists’ Cooperative Program unified budget, Antoine noted.
“You don’t have to be a large church to do great things,” he said. “Our members feel blessed to serve our church.”
This is part of an ongoing series about how Christians respond to hunger and poverty. Substantive coverage of significant issues facing Texas Baptists is made possible in part by a grant from the Prichard Family Foundation.
Carolyn Tomlin is a freelance writer who teaches the Boot Camp for Christian Writers.