A cooperative ministry called Front Porch Ministries shows that there truly is redemptive power in the United Methodist commitment to being a Connectional church. Their latest collaboration in hog butchering suggests that being Connectional can even taste good, too. 

Front Porch Ministries is comprised of eight rural churches surrounding Warsaw that have worked together to do more for God than they could do alone. They often share skills and resources, leadership, teaching, music, programming, and technology. 

The Front Porch Ministries group is comprised of Rev. Rob Seewald at Leesburg UMC, Local Pastor Kenneth Cooke (pictured above) at Bourbon First UMC and Etna Green UMC, Local Pastor Carolyn Kern at Pleasant Grove UMC and Pierceton UMC, Local Pastor David Banning at Atwood Otterbein UMC, and Supply Pastor Steve Newkirk at Packerton UMC and Morris Chapel UMC. 

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, local meat packing plants in northern Indiana were forced to close and stopped purchasing meat from local farms. In turn, farmers were faced with significant financial loss, as well as the challenge of having to dispose of their animals if the meat wasn’t processed. At the same time, local needs in food pantries were increasing while many families were experiencing financial challenges. 

Lay Leader Megan Wise, a member of Pleasant Grove UMC, and her family were approached by a local farmer, from whom they had previously purchased meat, asking if they’d like to purchase a few hogs at a deeplydiscounted price. Several from the Wise’s extended family all jumped in, putting their skill of processing meat to work. 

“What started as a project between my husband and his family turned into something a lot bigger,” said Megan. 

The following week, Pastor Rob Seewald and his family purchased meat, as well as the other five pastors from Front Porch Ministries. As word of mouth spread, Megan’s family started to teach others in the community how to butcher, process, and pack the meat—a skill that is often hard to find. 

Each week, hogs would be picked up from local farmers and transported to Megan’s brother-in-law’s home. They would be humanely killed, hung, skinned, and halved. The different cuts of meat, such as ribs, pork chops, loins, and roasts, were wrapped and put in freezers. The team even had a large grinder and seasoning to make sausage. 

Word continued to spread. After four weeks, 45 hogs had been butchered. Each one yielded anywhere from 100-125 pounds of meat. A portion of the meat was given to local food pantries, a rare donation. Another portion was donated to families in need, as church members had purchased meat for those they personally knew were financially struggling

Some families purchased whole hogs. Others, that didn’t have the freezer space to accommodate that much meat, purchased it by the pound. If the buyers did not help with the butchering, they were charged a processing fee of $125 (though many gave more), which was donated to Front Porch Ministries

The $1,500 in proceeds from the hog butchering is being used to support the lay training that Megan oversees with Front Porch Ministries.

Connectional ministry at its heart says that together—connected—we do more for the Kingdom of God. What started as one family butchering some hogs ended up feeding a community and butchering some of COVID’s impact