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Little church with a big heart
St. Paul AME a ‘beacon’ in a time of need
St. Paul; AME 1
Bryan County Schools Director of Student Services Dr. Denise Scott and St. Paul AME Pastor Timmie Curry help Bryan County Schools Administrative Assistant Holly Gray load school supplies up Monday morning at the system’s office in Black Creek. Looking on, from left, are Estella Oliver, Anita Oliver and Yvonne Oliver Bradshaw. Photo by Jeff Whitten.

On a recent Monday around noon, St. Paul AME Pastor Timmie Curry and several members of his flock pulled vehicles into the Bryan County Schools administration building parking lot in Black Creek and started unloading school supplies.

There were pencils, 1,008 of them to be exact. And 120 boxes of crayons. And 420 erasers, 120 bottles of hand sanitizer, 150 packs of folders and 356 packs of notebook paper.

All of it was donated by church members and delivered with help from Anita Oliver, Yvonne Oliver Bradshaw and Willie and Estella Oliver. It’s now bound for Bryan County students in need.

It’s just the latest in a series of such acts by members of a small church in North Bryan with a desire to make a difference.

Over the holidays St. Paul AME members distributed over 8,105 pounds of food and 82 fruit baskets to those in need, Curry said. They adopted a family with a 7-year-old child suffering from cancer. And from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 29, they’ll host a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the church off Groover Hill Road. And, Curry said his church will soon begin hosting First Friday birthday teas for senior citizens.

“It’s about holding true to the tradition of the African Methodist Episcopal Society of being there for the community in time of need,” said Curry, who added that when he asked members of the church to donate they responded “without fret,” and “dug into their hearts and the supplies came pouring in.”

The school supplies are appreciated, according to Dr. Denise Scott, the system’s director of student services. Scott, who along with administrative assistant Holly Gray moved supplies from the parking lot into the administration building, said the system is “happy and thankful for the supplies,” and praised the church and other community members who support Bryan County Schools students.

“We have wonderful partners, and with COVID we’ve been working with great agencies and all these great churches in the community. We appreciate them so much,” she said.

School officials routinely have a lot to appreciate in terms of community support. The school board usually spends at least part of each monthly meeting approving donations that annually add up to five-and- sometimes-six-figure dollar amounts in terms of money, goods or services.

Yet the donation by St. Paul, while small in comparison perhaps, shows a church that is dedicated to punching above its weight class when it comes to serving others. For starters, the church has about 23 active members out of a total congregation of 45 – “and 90 percent of them I’d say are retired,” said Curry, who added the church’s bishop, Reginald T. Jackson, encourages them “to be different, and to go out and be what God wants us to be.”

“We want to be influential in our community,” Curry said.

And they are, according to officials like Family Connection Executive Director Wendy Futch. She said churches like St. Paul AME are “super important in their community.”

“A church like St. Paul’s has been around a long time, they have a longstanding congregation and they really have their pulse on the community where they’re located,” Futch said. “Who better to know what’s needed there than these folks. They’re a beacon in that community.”

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