St. Francisville is on the river that makes the eastern border of Missouri. No, not the Mississippi River, it is further north than that. It’s on the Des Moines River. Sure, Iowa is to the north, but it’s also to the east.
Certified Lay Speaker Donna Reid has been serving St. Francisville UMC since July. She also serves Luray UMC, the other church on the two point charge.
“We have services at St. Francisville at 8:30 a.m. and Luray at 10:15,” she said. “When I drive from St. Francisville to Luray, I’m driving past United Methodist Churches in Kahoka and Wayland.”
Reid lives at Taylor. Her drive to St. Francisville is 64 miles, then it’s another 20 miles to Luray, so her Sunday morning circuit adds up to about 120 miles.
Reid has been encouraged by the growth she has seen in both churches. When she started, Luray was under 10 in attendance, and it is now up to about 15. St. Francisville has gone from 15 up to 24. She credits the congregation with doing a good job of inviting people who have fallen away to come back to church and reaching out to unchurched people.
“I’ve told (the congregations) that I can’t grow the church. Only Jesus Christ, working through them, can grow the church,” she said.
When getting started there, she found the sizes of the church to be a plus because she could get to know everyone. She took pictures of people and made a photo album.
“It helped me put names to faces and reminded me of who I am praying for as I went through it,” Reid said. “And now as we add more people, I add more pictures.”
Last summer St. Francisville held a block party featuring a praise band from Hannibal, served maid-rites and hot dogs, and had a rummage and craft sale.
“It was really enjoyed by people in the community,” Reid said.
In October Luray had a soup supper that fed about 75 people.
Both churches are involved in a local mission project. They are raking leaves, collecting the bags and giving taking them to a family who lives in a house trailer to provide insulation around the trailer skirting so it isn’t so difficult to heat in the winter. In the spring, when the insulation is no longer needed, the leaves will be used as mulch on the garden.
"It was something that we could do for someone that only cost us some elbow grease,” Reid said. “The family really appreciates it.”