Article submitted by Rev. Samantha Hall
Pastor of Church Grove, Maple Spring, and Union Ridge United Methodist Churches and Third Place Ministries
In 1971, several United Methodist Churches in the Marshall County, Kentucky area banded together under the leadership of the legacy Memphis Annual Conference (now Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference) to provide much needed ministry to the Lakeland area around Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Property was purchased along Highway 68 and ministry began almost immediately. The Lakeland Parish was pivotal in establishing campground preaching to vacationing visitors to the area and ministry to Senior Citizens throughout the county. A thrift store, The New to You Shop, was opened in Benton and all profits were used for crisis ministry to those stricken by poverty and disaster. The legacy Memphis Conference provided funding and appointed clergy to the Lakeland Parish during this time.
With the construction of the interstate highway in the area, however, the locally owned tourist businesses began to decline, and funding for the Lakeland Parish diminished. It seemed that this once thriving ministry would soon be just a fond memory. But in the 1990’s, a decision was made to incorporate the 14 United Methodist Churches in Marshall County. Thus, the United Methodist Cooperative Ministry of Marshall County (UMCMMC) was born. After some slow going, the Cooperative regained its sense of vision for ministry. The Highway 68 property was sold and the Cooperative and The New to You Shop moved to Cope Road, conveniently located just off Main Street in Benton.
With the help of an Igniting Ministry grant from the United Methodist General Conference, UMCMMC was able to revive the once vibrant ministry. Marshall County’s longest abbreviation was shortened to McUMC. In 2013 the Cooperative Ministry was re-organized and adopted a new set of bylaws and goals. Included in that reorganization was the decision to rename the Cooperative Ministry. The 13 member churches approved the name “Third Place Ministries” to replace McUMC. Changes from that re-organization included the sale of some property and the search for a new and larger building for the New to You Shop.
On June 1, 2018 the name of the cooperative ministry was officially changed to Third Place Ministries, Inc. Third Place Ministries is attached to the Church Grove, Maple Spring, and Union Ridge UMC charge. Many improvements occurred under the very competent leadership of Rev. David Garrett. In June of 2021, Rev. Samantha Hall took over the reins when she was appointed to the charge. The search continued for a larger location for the New to You shop, and finally a suitable location was purchased in April of 2022 with the assistance of volunteer realtor Kendra Capps. New to You moved to 176 Beechwood Lane, a facility with two buildings, one for receiving and sorting donations and crisis ministry, and the other for retail sales. We were honored that Bishop Bill McAlilly and District Superintendent Nancy Johnston Varden helped to dedicate the new buildings on May 23rd during the grand opening and ribbon cutting. Mr. Paul Darnall and Mr. Carl Greenfield were both recognized for their many contributions to the ministry as well.
New to You depends on volunteers from the community as well as paid staff, and on donations. There is a volunteer Third Place Board of Directors chaired by Rev. Keith Long composed of representatives from each United Methodist Church in Marshall County, one clergy and one lay member from each church. Chairpersons alternate between clergy and lay members. Current ministries include The New to You Shop; The Day1 Radio Program and Day1 Follow-Up Program hosted by volunteer Lois Cunningham; Crisis Counseling; Crisis Assistance (medical and utility assistance); Emergency Assistance (household replacement after fires, storms, domestic abuse, etc.); and a County-Wide Youth Ministry led by volunteer Jenny Darnall.
A lot can happen in fifty-one years. Even through name changes, demographic shifts, and location transitions, Third Place Ministries continues to invest in its community by providing much-needed assistance to those who are in crisis and by continuing to modify what we do to address ever changing community needs.