Piney Creek UMC participates in ministry to provide free eggs to fight poverty


Free eggs to fight poverty
Ministerium rolls out Hens from Heaven initiative to help county’s needy
An Alleghany County Ministerium initiative, Hens from Heaven (HFH), aims to help alleviate poverty in the county with free eggs from their henhouse and set up interested families in need of their own flock.
The project is headed up by Piney Creek UMC Rev. David Serven.  The chicken coop is located on Maple Street where eight hens currently live.  Under the current plan, the eggs they are given to the Food Closet and people in need in the county.

“It’s important to feel like we’re doing something to help get people out of poverty,” Serven said.  The Ministerium wanted to do something.

Hens from Heaven currently has 8 hens in a coop built for up to 16, who should each yield up to 290 eggs per year each.  It is being cared for by the next-door neighbors Kate & Jody Vermilyea, who turned out to have an interest in chicken keeping since they once had their own flock in South Carolina.  This spring we will add more hens as the weather warms up.

Beyond being a source of free eggs for hungry people, Serven says it’s a plan to help people rise out of systemic poverty.  He said that a person or family that was interested could come in and work a few hours a week over a 3-to-4-month period as a trial.  This would see if they could run their own coop and familiarize themselves with the work involved.  A 3-month course from the University of Arkansas on chicken keeping is also required.

If they do well meet the requirements and are still interested, Serven said the Ministerium may set them up for one year with their own coop, run and hens, as well as provide materials like bedding, feed, a solar panel light, etc., for up to one year.  He said that someone with a HFH henhouse can eat the eggs, share them with their neighbors – thus saving on grocery bills and adding extra protein to their diet – sell the eggs at the Farmers Market and even sell the manure as fertilizer.

Serven said he got the idea from a 2019 Institute for Emerging Issues meeting in Charlotte, where community leaders from across the state discussed different ways to help the poor in their communities.  He said a UM church in Hickory helped with the primary information and practical help He needed to put the idea into fruition.

Serven said the project was funded by a Conservation Fund grant and is interested in continuing to fund these new families with their own coops.  “We are interested in sharing this with the local 4H and the county school children as a learning experience.  This is for the county, for people and for the kids.” Serven said.  “We’re here to educate people and to help them get out of poverty.”

“The Alleghany County Ministerium- an intra-faith organization- is dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Christ to all who will listen,” Serven said. “We know there are different ways to help people and we believe Hens from Heaven is a wonderful example of how we can help those who are trapped in systemic poverty and how the Grace of God has made this project possible.”

(Parts taken from this article by Zachary Weaver, Alleghany News Staff)

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at


  • Resources
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