On the 4th of July, Americans love Uncle Sam and pastor Gary Newman has taken this love and used it for a wonderful cause. Newman and his church Sand Hill IPCC ( International Pentecostal Church of Christ) in South Shore, will feed hundreds at a picnic lunch, just like most other people have on the 4th of July.
Pastor Newman, along with help, collected money on the street corners of Portsmouth to be used to feed those who may not be able to have a 4th of July picnic. The fun part about this is, when Newman is collecting the money, he dresses up like Uncle Sam, with the top hat and all. They did this the first weekend in May and in June. He say when they do this to help with the donations that businesses and individuals give them to help with this huge project he has taken on himself.
Newman says they feed 2,000 people, so he has ordered 2,000 hamburgers, 2,000 hot dogs, 2,000 bags of chips, 2,000 little Hug drinks and 4,000 cookies, as they give two cookies to each person. He says that they box each one individually, with one hamburger, one hot dog, chips, 2 cookies, and a Hug drink.
Newman said what started him doing this was, “Seven years ago, the Spirit of the Lord spoke to my heart, He said ‘you feed people at special dinners on Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s a lot of children and a lot of folks that don’t get that cook-out meal like the families that are able to afford it. They don’t get that hamburger or that special moment.’ So, on the 4th of July, we were set-up to do it that year, but a storm came through Portsmouth (2012) and all through the area and everybody’s electric was off and was off for a week or so, for a lot of people. Our church even lost its power, we were working on half power. It changed everything. Randy Yohe, who then worked for WSAZ, came here and we went down in the hollows to all kinds of folks that didn’t have power. Families that didn’t have any way to cook, so we give them all a meal. That was the first one that we done. And, I read a lot and Matthew 25 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible and it says, when you’ve done unto the least of these, you’ve done unto me.”
He continued, “I remember two years ago, a pastor from another church came to help us and he was doing the delivery. He was going up in the Wayne area and he said to me, ‘Pastor, how do I do this? How do I get any one to take these meals?’ I said, you find one kid in the neighborhood and give them one, and watch and see how fast they come. He had 100 of them and he called me back and he said, ‘I need 100 more, they are overwhelming me.’”
Newman has been the pastor at Sand Hill IPCC for eleven years. He said he has been associated with the church for over 40 years. “We started our ministry here (he and his wife Amanda), we haven’t been here the whole time, but we started here many many years ago. We just came full circle, we came home. When I took the church in 2007, they were ready to close the doors, four women were trying to keep it open. The Spirit of the Lord, led me back here and we took the church and now they can’t get rid of me.’
Pastor Newman told of how the 4th of July Cookout goes, “We have two big ‘ole grills, they were smokers, but we turned them into grills and my brother, assistant pastor, and these other guys, we all come in here at 5:30 in the morning and start cooking, so we can have the first batch ready early. We started another place last year, in the bottoms of Lucasville. The pastor of the church of God out there in Lucasville, he started with us last year and took them out there, and he is coming back this year and they are going to take more meals out there this year. We just love feeding people. We put the hamburger and hot dog in one of those covered plates and we buy packets of mustard and ketchup and we put them in with them. On the outside, we put them in what they call ‘T-Shirt’ bags. We put every one in an individual bag. We have folks to help and it’s an assembly line, plus we feed right here at the church, we use the fellowship hall and I have tents that I set up out here at the church. We will have live gospel music here all day long, just a good time fellowshipping, so people can come here and eat too. This is a real big event for us. Now we do Thanksgiving boxes too, about 100 to 150 and Christmas also, and then we do this big event. What is amazing about this is, I have a congregation of around 35 to 45 and there is a lot of children in that. This church is a wonderful church about supporting this and they too as individuals give of their time and money to support this. It just amazes me, it’s because they have a heart.”
He said he would love to put the names of the people who have helped him, because he doesn’t get a chance to thank all these special people. He said especially one of his biggest supporters, who is Giovanni’s corporation, every year “I call them and they give me the hamburgers, they give me over 1,000 hamburgers. Sand Hill IPCC is the one who sponsors this, but Newman says he does all the ‘leg’ work, I set up with Heiner’s bread and they give me hamburger and hot dog buns for half price. They are always good to me. Glockner’s, Tim Glockner, love that man, he gives me a donation, Carpet Plus (Kim Bloomfield), Tires R Us(Stephanie), AJ Auto Sales(Arkie), Journey Auto Sales(Tony Journey) salvage on Dry Run, all these folks have been coming in with donations. Morton’s Funeral Homes(Todd) in South Shore, are the only ones in Kentucky, our church area that help us out.” He also wanted to thank his cousin, Pam Cumberledge, his nurse at the VA, and Navoo 769 F & M. But, he did not want to leave out all those who donated to Uncle Sam on the Corner.
Nothing makes a man more of a hero and wonderful person, than one who gives of himself by giving to others who may have no one or nothing. Pastor Newman is that special kind of man, and along with his little (giant) congregation are doing what they feel the community needs and asking for nothing in return.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928