KEYSER - The celebration and dedication of the Emmanuel Episcopal Ministry Building and the Faith in Action Food Pantry on Saturday was conducted in the memory of The Rev. Leonard S. Gross, the first Rector of the Emmanuel Parish who served from 1985 to 9192.

By Jean Braithwaite
Tribune Correspondent
KEYSER -  The celebration and dedication of the Emmanuel Episcopal Ministry Building and the Faith in Action Food Pantry on Saturday was conducted in the memory of The Rev. Leonard S. Gross, the first Rector of the Emmanuel Parish who served from 1985 to 9192.
The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, from Charleston, and Bishop of the West Virginia Episcopal Diocese, was the guest speaker.
He spoke of the volunteers that man the food pantry, and said, “The volunteers are feeding the people.”
Klusmeyer said that the clientele that visits food pantries has changed, and those who now need the service are “the working poor.”
He shared a saying in Liberia, “Hunger makes the monkey eat pepper.”
Klusmeyer mentioned the Apostle Paul, and how “he made very clear, to reach out to the needy, and never deny them.”
He said the feeding program can be successful, but the volunteers must “have Christ on your side.”
“We are called to take risks with the food pantry,” Klusmeyer said, along with, “Take some risks that have never before been taken.”
The Rev. Roland (Randy) Nairn, rector of the local Emmanuel Episcopal Church, gave words concerning the love of God when he said, “In His great love for all of us, Christ said that whatever we do for the least among us, we do for him.”
Pat Keller, manager of the Faith in Action Food Pantry, gave a brief history of how the food pantry came into being.
She said that was because the Rev. Homer Beeman saw a need among those citizens who were lacking in food for their families.
Supporting this need, Peggy Biser, Thelma Shaw, Judy Young, and Sandy Howard went forward as the first volunteers for the food pantry, which was incorporated in 1984.
The first food pantry was located in a closet of the church, moving on to the building that housed the former D and D Cleaners on D Street, then because of the severe flood damage to that building, the food pantry was moved to Center Street, in the Old Music Hall building, where steep steps hindered many from receiving the food service.
The next move for the food pantry was the location on St. Cloud Street, and during that time about 400 clients were assisted with food boxes, and the owner of that building decided to sell the property, and once again a new location for the food pantry was needed.
Keller said that because of “many prayers and much talk,” plus a report that the former Eagle Eye Gun Shop building located on Mineral Street was for sale, they were able to move ahead with the project of relocating the food pantry. Emmanuel Episcopal purchased the former gun shop and provided some funds for renovating the building, and Faith in Action opened its doors in the former Eagle Eye Gun Shop on July 1, 2019.
Keller said that 40 volunteers are active to assist the food pantry with packing boxes of food, traveling to Walmart and Martin’s to pick up food, keeping records, sweeping and scrubbing the floor, stocking the shelves, and whatever needs to be done.
Betty Spiggle, who volunteers at the Faith in Action Food Pantry on every Wednesday, said, “The food pantry is a service to the community people in need, and it is here to supply the need.”
Current members of the board for Faith in Action are Wayne Arnold, president; Pat Ravenscroft Keller, manager and secretary; the Rev. Randy Nairn, vice president; and Lynn Luvara, treasurer. Other members of the board of directors are Betty Spiggle, Jay Courrier, Anita Fairley, the Rev. Wayne Gosnell, Judy Young and Doug Wolf.
The operational hours for the Faith in Action Food Pantry are Tuesday through Friday, from 1-3 p.m.