UNION — A phone call from a person in need lead to the establishment of a mission in the basement of an apartment complex that serves its residents and others in downtown Union.
Rick Dupree is the founder and lay pastor of Downtown Mission which operates in the basement of the Fairforest Apartments on Main Street. He said the mission grew out of a call for help from a resident of the apartment several years ago.
“I’m from New Life Baptist Chrch and that’s where it all started,” Dupree said. “We had a pantry over there and we got a call from somebody here at the apartments who needed some help. We brought them food and talked to them and realized that there was a need for mission here.
“We started meeting upstairs in the lobby and the manager brought us down here,” he said. “This was a storage area at the time and she said if we’d take it and fix it up we could have it as a mission. So we’ve been down here five years.”
Dupree said the ministry, which has grown over the years, includes worship services at 12:30 p.m. on Sundays and Bible studies at 11 a.m. on Wednesdays. He said the ministry also looks to the physical needs of those it serves, providing them with lunch every Friday and on alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays and giving away baskets of food the fourth Tuesday of every month. Dupree said that the ministry gives away an average of 80-90 baskets of food each month. Lunch, which is cooked by Dupree’s wife, Sherry, is also well-attended with between 40-50 people dining.
In addition to meals twice a week, the mission also provides residents of the apartments and others it ministers to with a place to socialize during the day. The mission is open 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday.
While the residents of the apartments are the mission’s first priority, Dupree said it also seeks to meet the needs of Union’s homeless population. Dupree said he defines homelessness as those who do not have a home of their own and cannot afford one and must instead rely on the generosity of others to share their homes with them. He said there are a number of people who find themselves living in such a fashion here in Union.
Dupree said the goal of the mission is to make the lives of those it ministers to better, not only in terms of their physical well-being, but also spiritually.
“We do anything we can to make their lives easier,” Dupree said. “What we’re trying to do is lead people to Christ.”
Dupree said that over the years a number of people who have attended the mission have become Christians, but added that those being ministered to are not the only ones to receive a blessing. He said that he and his wife and all the others who have volunteered at the mission have found themselves blessed by getting to know the people they are serving.
“These people are lovable people,” Dupree said. “If you come down here and stay a little while you’ll fall in love with them.”
Dupree said the mission is supported by donations and if anyone is interested in making a donation “bring it down here. One hundred percent of it will go to the mission.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, Ext. 14.