Mt. Moriah Baptist Church stepping up to fill community needs, reduce health inequities

Mt. Moriah Baptist Church is looking to reduce food insecurity, homelessness, and lack of access to health and education in Spartanburg Co.
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 12:57 AM EST
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A Spartanburg community is challenged by food insecurity, homelessness and lack of access to health and educational resources. But one historic church has stepped in to make a difference.

“When a church is situated in a community, it should love that community” said Pastor Larry Crudup, the new lead pastor at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.

The doors at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church almost never close. Though the pews are empty and there’s no pastor at the pulpit, on Thursdays they offer something else. One hour of line dancing, twice a day.

“The thing we were trying to do is just to get us to move as much as possible,” said Stella Johnson, the line dance class instructor.

“For me it’s more about getting the heart rate up more than it is about the fancy footwork” she said.

Johnson, with the assistance of Martha Kernis, lead the class, it’s been her passion for 10 years.

“When you get other people around you, it motivates you to come out, it motivates you to give all that you got” said Johnson. ”It gives them an outing, a place to go, somewhere they can feel safe and keep doing what they need to do to get their bodies right.”

It’s all about the exercise—especially for those with arthritis and other health challenges. But if dancing is not your thing, Mt. Moriah has a gym too.

“Not just the line dancing but a number of the programs provide a sense of community and belonging for people who probably would never step through the doors of the church” said Pastor Crudup.

Recently, the church earned the George Newby Jr. Leadership Award and a grant from the Mary Black Foundation. The $25,000 grant money will be invested into the food pantry, which serves the community weekly.

“So there are all of these critical issues that we’re trying to address in small ways that we’re seeing have a bigger impact on people’s lives than we thought that they originally would” said Pastor Crudup.

And it’s not anything new, they’ve done it for 40 years, expanding the church ministry outside the four walls.

“Some people think church is a little stuffy, but here we have a whole line dancing crew” he said.

The line dance classes are free every Tuesday and Thursday at 9am and 6pm. Anyone is welcome to attend. The food pantry does giveaways every Wednesday. Plus, they offer diabetes counseling, mobile clinics, and student tutoring. To learn more click here.