Fifty Years of Service to the Community Started With a Spark

February 19, 2019

February 10, 2019 marked a special day for Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry as they celebrated 50 years since the beginning of the organization by gathering with the founding 15 churches and their membership.  As approximately 200 gathered at Grace Reformed United Church of Christ to show support for the founding churches, members and staff, a feeling of compassion and grace filled the air.

Mrs. Eulene (Banks) Shepherd and members of her family were one of the many sharing support of the organization.  Mrs. Shepherd, now residing at Piedmont Crossing, a continuing care community in Thomasville, NC, knows all too well the intentional effort her husband and family put forth to make ECCCM a reality for Catawba County.  

For ECCCM, it all began in 1968 when Rev. Banks Shepherd, pastor of Bethany and Smyrna United Churches of Christ, sparked the founding of ECCCM. A phone call came to him from an unsuspecting woman needing a new refrigerator and cook stove. On a hunch, he called other area ministers to learn that the same woman had already received these appliances. Clearly, the combined efforts of Christians throughout Eastern Catawba County could eliminate duplication and accomplish far more than individual congregations. Seeking guidance of God, through prayer, ECCCM, a Christian ministry, was born of local supportive churches in 1969.

ECCCM is passionate about positively impacting others in a godly manner in the midst of a crisis situation, and fulfills the biblical message our pastors teach on Sunday: being the body of Christ into the world. In addition to our supportive churches, ECCCM receives support from individuals, local businesses and foundations.

Jesus said,

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (Matt 25:35–36 NRSV).

ECCCM serves all of eastern Catawba County providing emergency financial assistance for mortgage and rent payments, assistance with utility bills, fuel oil and kerosene purchases, and life-necessary pharmaceuticals. In addition, ECCCM provides emergency food and clothing to those in need. 

During the joining of the original churches on February 10 to celebrate 50 years of faith through service at ECCCM, Mrs. Shepherd was recognized and the following certificate of appreciation was read:

WHEREAS, in 1969 Rev. Banks Shepherd discerned congregations were unintentionally duplicating benevolent services; and

WHEREAS, Rev. Banks Shepherd, following the prompting of the Holy Spirit, engaged other pastors of the ministers association for a cooperative solution; and

WHEREAS, under Rev. Banks Shepherd’s leadership, the formation of ECCCM began; and

WHEREAS, 15 churches committed to a cooperative benevolent ministry; and

WHEREAS, Rev. Shepherd cared deeply for the fledgling beginning of ECCCM; and

WHEREAS, the purpose of ECCCM was to provide the means for churches and individuals in Eastern Catawba County to engage in cooperative religious, educational, and benevolent ministries.

THEREFORE, with this stated purpose, membership of all Christian Churches in Eastern Catawba County, and express actions of their official bodies, let it be known that Rev. Banks Shepherd assisted in the founding and operation of Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry.

On this 10th Day of February 2019, be it known that Rev. Banks Shepherd was significant in the founding of ECCCM.

Congrats to ECCCM on 50 years and thank you to the Shepherd family for taking a vision and making it a reality for the betterment of mankind.