The Good Shepherd Ministry
Tom and Margaret Helms, married 67 years on June 11, became members of First Church in 1977. I sat with the Helmses in their beautiful home in Molino, Florida as they told me their story. Family pictures and precious memories covered the walls and lined tops of furniture. The sunlight filled the room and the two family cats took turns greeting me and investigating the contents of my purse. Recalling their earliest years at First Church, Tom said, “We were hungry to learn… and this Church filled a great need.” The Helmses immersed themselves in the life of the church. Margaret served in the kitchen, while Tom served as a member on The Board of Trustees with a term as Chairman, and as an usher. In addition, the couple also both served a year as Stephen Ministers. The Helmses attended Church regularly and have been part of many Sunday School classes over the years.
In recent years, Margaret has suffered from various medical issues that have slowly kept the Helmses from being able to attend church as regularly as they would like. In the Summer of 2015, Debra Tallman, the Director of 50 Forward Ministries, saw a need in the Helms’ life and decided to do something about it with the help of the Good Shepherd Ministry. The Good Shepherd Ministry of First Church, consists of volunteers that help our growing church remain in community with one another by fellowshipping and visiting with church members who are no longer able to come on campus regularly or at all.
Julie Vickery, Church Member and volunteer with The Good Shepherd Ministry, eagerly jumped at the chance to “shepherd” the Helmses. “I chose to be a Good Shepherd towards the Helmses because I was in a Sunday school class with them and wanted to get to know them better in a deeper way”, said Julie. Julie goes to their home a few times a month and enjoys phone calls with them two or three times a month. When I asked Julie something that she has taken away from her experience with the Good Shepherd Ministry she said, “It is an honor for someone to invite you into their life. The Helmses have shared so many family, courtship, and vacation stories with me. They share their history. That’s a big reason why I volunteer, because I enjoy the stories. I see them as my friends, but I appreciate the history that they share with me. I leave their home always happier than when I get there. They always fill me up. I always leave thinking how grateful I am to enjoy such an enriching experience.”
“We don’t want to lose touch with the church and having someone come talk with us and tell us what’s going on, means a lot”, said Tom Helms. Tom told me of the outpouring of love that that they have received from their Church home in the form of hugs, meals, visits, and phone calls. “Material things don’t mean as much as the love of the Church, and Julie is an example of that love”, said Tom.
The Good Shepherd ministry is our chance as a church to give back to and love those who have given so much. Julie encourages others to get involved by saying, “It is one of those experiences in your life that you are so grateful for and you are thankful that you didn’t miss. You always receive more than you ever give. It’s a learning experience. You learn so much about someone’s life that is different than yours. They are my Shepherds too”.
To find out more information and how to get involved with this ministry, contact Debra Tallman at DTallman@FUMCPensacola.com.