Peoples UMC serves single mothers in 'Central City' New Orleans

December 15, 2016
In keeping with the Mission, Vision and Core Values of the Louisiana Conference, Peoples United Methodist Church in New Orleans is engaging with the church’s surrounding community in a very significant way.

People’s “Amanzi” women’s ministry is an outreach and witness ministry with a mission to improve the lives of single mothers, families and homeless women in the New Orleans Central City Area.

“Through ‘Amanzi,’ church volunteers provide free laundry service, opportunities for spiritual growth, coaching in simple life skills and educational opportunities,” said Rev. Eunice Chigumira, pastor of Peoples UMC. “Through these opportunities, single mothers are empowered both spiritually and emotionally to be able to live abundant lives and become disciples of Christ.”

To get the ministry off the ground,  Peoples UMC knew that funds would be needed to provide an appropriate space. With the help of the New Orleans District, more than $3,600 was raised to purchase washers and dryers.

At the time, Rev. Chigumira was participating in a leadership program sponsored by the United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana. Her fellow clergy classmates participating in the Foundation’s LEAP 2 initiative were inspired by her ministry idea and enlisted their congregations in helping to raise more than $10,000 for the renovation materials and furniture for a ministry space.

With the assistance of the New Orleans District and the Louisiana Conference, the Peoples UMC Next Chapter Community Center (formerly the Peoples Community Center) was designated as the home for the “Amanzi” ministry.

Renovations were needed to prepare the space, and assistance was provided toward that end by volunteers through the Epworth Project and the Peoples UMC Men’s Group.


 
“Through the ‘Amanzi’ ministry, we are serving single mothers who are either out of a job and struggling to make ends meet or  struggling with life issues. The washers and dryers are free for the ladies to use. The laundry component serves as a portal to build relationships with these women, whose needs are great,” said Rev. Chigumira.
 
“We minister to our sisters in Christ by beginning with a little devotional session. We have a play area for the children and the mothers gather around the table to talk over a fresh cup of coffee. Everyone involved, from the members that come to volunteer to the sisters that come to wash, have expressed extreme satisfaction in the environment that the washing area is in and the sense of warmth and welcome in a very clean and organized environment. It’s not just about washing clothes. It’s also about refreshing the spirit and the soul and forming relationships,” she added.

One mother and her teenage daughter who are currently being served by the ministry are now attending Peoples’ Sunday worship services, according to Rev. Chigumira. The mother is also participating in the church’s Tuesday ministry with the homeless.  

Currently, Amanzi is open on the first and third Saturday's of the month. “The goal is to be open every Saturday to allow a consistent flow of people being able to come and be ministered to. We would also like to have a small food pantry for the mothers to take home some food for their children,” said Chigumira.
 
“Our God is truly a faithful God and we can surely do anything through Christ who strengthens us,” said Rev. Chigumira. “When a congregation becomes externally focused on being a presence with open doors and a light in the community, reaching souls for Christ and making a difference, the Lord will always provide the fuel for the light to continue shining. Our mantra at Peoples is that it’s not about the numbers or how much we have, but what God can do to multiply the two fishes and five loaves.”

To find out more about the “Amanzi” ministry, call Rev. Chigumira at (504) 522-1249.

Story by Betty Backstrom, Communication Liaison for the Louisiana Conference.