Field of Hope: Myersville, MD
In 2006, a church Sunday School class in Myersville, MD was reflecting on the gospel call to feed the hungry. Several class members began to ask, “What can we do?” Patty Hurwitz was a member of that class. She and her husband Jeff owned a small farm to graze sheep. She had recently heard about how Growing Hope Globally brings farmers and churches together to address hunger. Patty shared the idea with other church members and offered to set aside some of her farm land if others would raise money for seed and fertilizer, plant and harvest, and then sell the crop. The Field of Hope Growing Project was born.
Pastors Tim and Donna Ritchey Martin, took the lead in contacting other Churches of the Brethren in the area. Churches from other denominations were also invited to join in. Over the years the number of churches has grown and there are now 11 different congregations participating
More people had the opportunity to actively participate in the project by holding fundraisers such as a restaurant night where a percentage of proceeds were pledged to the project, a sub sandwich sale, and an aluminum can drive. Local businesses and Individuals were asked to sponsor the crop for $250/acre, which was used for seed, fertilizer, and equipment.
Each year the committee choses a Growing Hope funded program to support with the project proceeds. Over the years the group has funded programs in Kenya, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, India, Guatemala, Zambia, Honduras, Central African Republic, Dominican Republic, Mozambique, Colombia, Malawi and more!
Early on, the church organizing committee recognized the importance of gathering to pray and share in food and fellowship. They decided to meet each spring to dedicate their project to God through a Blessing of the Seed, and each fall for a Harvest Festival where they give thanks for a successful harvest and pray that it will be a blessing to people living in hunger. The Harvest Festival also includes a cake auction as an additional fundraiser.
After many years of dedicated service to the Growing Project and their church, Pastors Tim and Donna Ritchey Martin retired in the fall of 2020. Even though the Harvest Festival had to be scaled back due to the pandemic, the community gathered wearing masks and socially distancing to thank the Ritchey Martins for their service and to once again give thanks to God for His provision.