Jerry Frye has been pastor of the Eldon, Missouri, Church of the Nazarene for close to 40 years. In those three-plus decades, the church has expanded and has become more community minded
and world conscious. One way that has occurred is through the church's focus on missions. And that focus has sharpened through its pie ministry.
How did the church get started with a pie ministry?
We wanted to raise mission awareness and funds for missions beyond what we were giving to the World Evangelism Fund through our Faith Promise ministry. Seeing what the Cape Girardeau Church of the Nazarene was doing with their pie ministry, we wanted to be a part of that. So we acquired their recipe for a great apple pie.
What is a pie ministry?
We sell apple and cherry pies in our community, at Southern Nazarene University, and throughout central Missouri. The proceeds are used to purchase property, and to build churches and schools around the world.
Also, we help the needy in our community. For example, with our 'back to school' program we provide clothing and school supplies for children going back to school. Recently, we helped a pastor in our community with stage IV cancer who is between assignments and without insurance.
The pie ministry allows us to have a benevolence fund to help those going through difficult times.
Where in the world has the Eldon church ministered through your mission trips?
Our pie ministry has helped us minister in Papua New Guinea, Guam, Ghana, Ecuador, and Brazil. In fact, we have worked throughout Ecuador with multiple trips there.
How do people know about the pies?
Word of mouth. And we advertise in the local newspaper and on radio.
What's the process for creating the pies?
We go to Michigan and pick up 260 bushels of Golden Delicious apples from a Christian orchard owner. We usually arrive home on Friday and begin the pie-making process at church in the gym on Saturday, which begins a 15-day pie-making journey. Interestingly, in 2012 when the blossoms froze on the apple trees in this orchard, the owner told me that the one part of his orchard was spared was the part 'God protected' from where he picks our apples.
How many pies do you make?
Over 6,000 apple in September, and over 1,200 cherry in January.
Do you bake all of the pies?
No, we freeze them and allow people to bake them as needed.
Is this primarily a women's ministry?
No. Men, women, children, teens are all involved.
How do those who purchase the pies know about the proceeds and purpose?
We make it clear on the pie labels that we use the proceeds to help fund missions in our community and throughout the world. Now, we are known as the 'apple pie church.'
Can you share some of the highlights of your pie-sponsored mission projects?
1) In Ecuador, we were in a village called Centro Yu where the North Andean Field for the Church of the Nazarene was planting a church. Although they had a building, they didn't have a pastor. The source for drinking water in the village was a pond, where the cattle bathed and drank, located on the way up the mountain to the village.
We met the two village leaders who happened to be Nazarene. We asked them what their needs were as a village and they shared the need for clean drinking water.
Some time earlier, the Ecuadorian government discovered an underground river in the mountain and agreed to drill a well and pump water up to Centro Yu. However, they would not disperse the water to the village's homes. So we agreed to send back funds from the pie ministry to pipe water to each of the 125 homes in the village.
2) In another instance, Pastor Angel Paredes' wife, Marcela, at Ecuador's Shell Church of the Nazarene was going blind due to a genetic condition. My wife, Karen, noticed her having difficulty navigating through the kitchen area.
Shortly before we arrived, Marcela was scheduled for eye surgery but declined because it was the same weekend as a district women's retreat. Six women from the church were planning to attend with her, one of whom was seeking to escape a life of prostitution. While at the retreat, that woman came to faith in Jesus Christ.
When we heard this story, we left funds there for Marcela to be able to visit an ophthalmologist. Also, we paid for her surgery that restored sight in one eye and slowed the deterioration in her other eye. Since it was genetic condition, her three children were tested. It was discovered that two of the children had the same condition and the doctor was able to correct that for them.
3) After the hurricane in Haiti, a Nazarene Haitian pastor moved to Ecuador with many Haitian refugees. We helped provide funds for him while he ministered to his fellow refugees in Ecuador.
How has the pie ministry helped your church have a greater sense of ministry and compassion?
It creates camaraderie. Some have come to our church to get in on making pies, and then see that our church has a vision beyond our doors. This has expanded the scope of our vision for making Christlike disciples.
Has this trickled down to the youth?
Certainly. We just had two teenage boys spend two weeks in Ecuador. One returned and said he felt called to missions. This summer we are sending 16 teens and 4 adults to Sun Valley Indian School in Arizona. They want to do this because of the vision God has given them through their involvement in our church's ministries.
How have the people of Eldon Church of the Nazarene learned to be so generous?
They have raised their awareness of the needs of others. We have between 35-40 people participate in Work and Witness trips. At the 2012 Missouri District Assembly, General Superintendent Jerry Porter recognized the churches that gave a significant percentage over their World Evangelism Fund goals. Our church was recognized for giving 352.8 percent to missions around the world. I am privileged to pastor such a wonderful, giving, and loving congregation.
Holiness Today, 2014
Please note: This article was originally published in 2014. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.