Halloween is over; the pumpkins are being cleared away and the “pumpkin church” on Savannah Highway is returning to its normal appearance.   Youth Minister David Boudolf expressed thanks to all the youth and adults who helped unload, display and sell the pumpkins during the month of October.

Strong support from the church and community made this year’s pumpkin sales the third highest ever, totaling more than $39,000. That means the Youth Mission Fund will receive $15,677 toward youth mission projects.

Youth groups go each summer to Salkehatchie, a South Carolina UMC program devoted to serving underprivileged families while helping young people learn about themselves, the world and God.  An international youth mission trip is tentatively planned for the Bahamas next summer to give assistance to areas devastated by  Hurricane Dorian. Proceeds from the pumpkin sales help defray some of the trip costs for youth and their families.

John Wesley is one of many Methodist churches across the country that participate in a pumpkin ministry started by Richard Hamby in 1974. According to UMC communications, Hamby ships millions of dollars worth of pumpkins to more than a thousand churches nationwide with no paperwork or contracts.  Churches are expected to give back a portion of their sales to producer who accepts all the risks for unsold or damaged pumpkins.

Last year, the pumpkin ministry help churches earn more than $3 million for projects.

The pumpkin ministry was started in Greensboro, NC but later moved to the Navajo Indian Reservation in Farmington, New Mexico.  The operation there grows pumpkins in a two-square-mile area and employs more than 700 Native Americans during the harvest months of September and October.