Georgia Church’s Legacy Tree Ministry Helps Retired Preachers

It can be frustrating to purchase a Christmas gift for someone who has everything.

But have you tried purchasing a gift for someone who has less than enough to make ends meet and yet insists on the gift going to someone more worthy?

That’s the problem supporters of Mission:Dignity frequently encounter when they want to honor a minister and his wife — or widow — each Christmas season. Members of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church were especially familiar with this type of humility, even when the recipient didn’t have enough money to pay for their prescription drugs.

But Johnson Ferry and its members didn’t take no for an answer and found a way to make the holidays merrier for many Southern Baptist retirees in Georgia by participating in Mission:Dignity, a ministry to retired ministers living on fixed incomes.

A few years ago, the Atlanta-area congregation launched a Granny Tree — now being rebranded as the Legacy Tree.

The plan was simple. At the church’s request, GuideStone Financial Resources sent the names of 135 Mission:Dignity recipients in Georgia who would be blessed by some extra holiday cheer, and their names were placed on the tree. Members chose a name — sometimes more than one — and met the specific need mentioned.

Whether the residence was across town or in a far-flung corner of the state, the gifts were then delivered before the holidays either by the church or members who would take the items personally.

“It’s been a wonderful relationship for the past five years, even though I have yet to meet Gerald and Marilene Moon,” said Barbara Jarratt, a Johnson Ferry member. “They have such a sweet spirit and raised four children on a very limited income.

“My husband and I are so blessed, and I want to be a blessing to someone else. What we enjoy about the Legacy Tree is that this can be a personal relationship, not just giving a one-time gift to a stranger.”

Jarratt added that the Mission:Dignity outreach is important to her since she never knew her own grandparents. The Legacy Tree relationship helps fill that space in her heart in a small yet personal way.

“We are thinking of driving up to see the Moons in northeast Georgia to get to know them better. We want them to know that they are in our thoughts and prayers throughout the year, not just during the holidays.”

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Source: Baptist Press