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Wesley UMC, MakePeace honored for community work in Milton-Freewater


Through grant funding and partnerships with the community, Wesley United Methodist Church has been part of significant support for those in need over the last couple of years through the challenges of the pandemic and economic struggles that have hit communities both big and small.

One of the simplest and biggest impact the church has had is providing a shower ministry two times a week, according to pastor Tillie MakePeace. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the church is open for showers, a bowl of soup and a place for people to charge their phones.

MakePeace said they’re the only place between Pendleton and WallaWalla in eastern Oregon & Washington to offer a public utilities facility like this.

“We allow people to be treated with grace,” she said.

Recently, MakePeace was honored as the 2022 Woman of the Year, by Milton-Freewater, because of her devoted partnership with Milton-Freewater Ministerial Association (MFMA).

“I was grateful to have the platform that evening to talk about being God’s bucket – just receiving and giving blessings,” MakePeace said. “God is so very good!”

With Wesley UMC serving as part of the MFMA, the group has accessed several grants from the City of Milton-Freewater, Oregon Community Foundation, Sherwood Trust and Umatilla County EURUS – along with the generosity from 11 churches – to donate goods and resources to community members in need.

The benevolence funds of MFMA were used to support emergency transportation, assist 32 families with rent, provide grocery store gift cards when needed. But it goes deeper than that.

MakePeace reports that MFMA has also been active with a community clothes closet, “laundry love,” community Christmas food boxes and much more.

She reported that MFMA has helped one homeless woman who made money collecting and selling cans this winter. The benevolence fund assisted with rent so that she could have a roof over her head and she now has a part-time job.

MFMA provided utilities support to two grandparents living on a fixed income who ended up taking care of their seven grandchildren in their small home.

A single mom with three children was working a low-wage job full-time when she got sidelined by a back injury. MakePeace said through conversations with MFMA and her landlord, she was able to make rent and apply for government assistance during this challenging time.

There are far more stories MakePeace and Rev. Steve Lyons (co-facilitator of MFMA) could tell. Needless to say, the generosity of the community as well as grant funds has allowed churches to partner with their neighbors in tough times to offer help with dignity and grace.