Ten years ago, several members of Albertville First Presbyterian met to discuss some needs of the church, at the request of Mary Snyder. Snyder, then the clerk of the session, the church’s governing body, proposed a solution. Snyder’s daughter, Kelly Sloan explained what happened.
“Fundraising seemed like an obvious solution to my mother,” Sloan said. “Mom and Tom [Sloan’s husband] and I talked about how we could take care of our immediate facility’s needs without affecting the outside funds we set aside for mission and outreach projects, because if a church isn’t supporting missions or doing outreach, is it serving its purpose? Tom said that the only thing he was really good at was cooking. She thought it would be a great idea to sell his barbecue. There was her answer. Have a fundraising lunch, use that money to fund outside missions, and use our inside funds to take care of our facility.” And the Mission Lunch was born.
Aside from raising funds to support local missions, Snyder had a couple of objectives. She wanted to bring members of the church together for a common purpose, and she wanted to bring the community into the church so they could, in her words, “See what a fabulous group of people we are.” Her goal was to show the people of Albertville and the surrounding area the love of Jesus through warm food, warm fellowship and the camaraderie of the close-knit family of faith at First Presbyterian.
As the years passed and the fundraiser grew larger, Albertville First Presbyterian was able to increase the funds they used for mission and outreach. Those funds have contributed to: The Presbyterian Home for Children; Blessings in a Backpack; Operation Christmas Child; Kairos prison ministry; Presbyterian Cursillo and more. Funds from the mission lunch have also offset expenses for church member/elder Jason Boatfield’s mission trips to Zimbabwe, Africa.
Sadly, Mary Snyder missed the 2016 mission lunch (the 7th annual event) because she was hospitalized, having been diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer. She passed away the next day, but not before hearing the grand total of the funds raised and praising God for another successful mission lunch.
Sloan added, “When people come to FPC they don’t just see our faces, they see the face of Jesus. That was what mom wanted. When the monies raised from this event go out to the Presbyterian Home or Tutwiler Women’s Prison or Africa or Marshall County Jail, it’s not really coming from us, it’s is coming from God. This is His work we are doing.
In 2017, the mission lunch was renamed The Mary Snyder Memorial Mission Lunch, because it was her brainchild, after all. Pastor Ed Hamlett described Snyder, “Mary was a load-bearing wall in our church. She is missed greatly. But her spirit lives on in her family and friends, and most especially in the luncheon now named for her.”
The 10th annual Mary Snyder Memorial Mission Lunch is on August 30 in the fellowship hall at Albertville First Presbyterian. The church is located at 501 College Street. Lunch is served from 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. A barbecue plate is $8 and includes either pulled pork or chicken (choice of breast or leg quarter,) plus chips, coleslaw and a roll – dine in or carry out. Members of the community are encouraged to drop in and dine, mingle with the members and enjoy warm food and fellowship.