By Jason Von Kundra of Sprouting Hope in Marion, VA

“Ministry WITH the Poor, Serve Act Learn” was the theme for the Poverty Summit organized by the Holston Conference and hosted by the First United Methodist Church (FUMC). Sprouting Hope was one of the participating organizations along with a Firewood Ministry, Low Income Housing Rehabilitation, Marion Elementary, Helping Hands Thrift Store, FUMC Food Pantry, and congregations throughout the region.

Firewood Ministry

Working WITH and not FOR folks in poverty is slow, challenging work but if our ambitions are to truly break the cycle of poverty and move toward empowered self-sufficiency, this is the work we must be doing. This work requires a participatory framework that gives dignity and value to people living in poverty.


The two day conference began with a day of service on Friday August 28th and a day of learning on Saturday August 29th with keynote by Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball. On Friday volunteers at the garden planted Brassica transplants and harvested nearly 10 gallons of beans. After inspiring and practical information at the Saturday workshops, participants were encouraged to develop programs in their own communities based successes and struggles shared by the partnering organizations. One life-long resident of Marion, Virginia shared “I have renewed hope in the community that we can achieve long-lasting positive change.”