PLANT CITY – After worshipping for more than 20 years in a converted convenience store, Edith Langston is eager for more room for her Gospel METS Ministries.
The church at 1102 E. Laura St. recently expanded its food program for the needy. And that’s just the start of the new ministries and services that Langston hopes to offer.
But first, she needs a larger location. And that’s going to cost big money for a church with about 70 members.
Langston, who serves as co-pastor with her sister Rosetta “Rose” Smith, wants to raise at least $250,000 to buy more spacious quarters. In all, she needs about $400,000.
Langston is sending out and delivering letters to potential donors asking for their support. She is enclosing copies of newspaper clippings that document the ministry’s work over the years.
Langston said she needs more space not only for the food ministry but also to accommodate other ministries she’d like to offer, including vocational training in areas such as air conditioning, mechanics and cosmetology.
Langston and Smith founded Gospel METS Ministries in 1989 at 1406 S. Collins St. The church moved to Laura Street in 1991 into a building that housed a fish market and later a convenience store.
The need for more space took on an urgency after a chance meeting in a grocery store parking lot with Shirley Chamberlain.
Chamberlain, a Plant City resident, had been active in feeding the needy for five years but needed a new church or charity to sponsor her efforts.
Langston offered Chamberlain the use of her church to give out food that Chamberlain obtains from the food bank at Lighthouse Gospel Mission in the Palm River area.
She provides food twice a week to the needy at Courier Field as part of a daily feeding program there.
Some of the food she obtains is handed out to the needy from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. Fridays at Langston’s church. Chamberlain takes any leftover food and distributes it to the needy in mobile home parks and other locations.
Both Langston and Chamberlain call their chance meeting a blessing from God, because each woman has been able to fulfill their inner need to help others.
“It was predestined,” Chamberlain said of her meeting with Langston.
She looks forward to Langston’s expansion plans and said it will benefit their mutual interest in helping the needy.
Langston said she knows it’s going to be difficult to raise so much money. But she’s counting on a lot of help from above.
“The Lord will help us find a way to make it happen if we trust in him,” she said. “When you’re doing the Lord’s work, you can’t fail.”