Wilma Frances (Fran) Lynch is a deaconess and missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church assigned to the Willow Church and Community Ministry in Alaska.
Willow is about 75 miles north of Anchorage and Fran coordinates ministry out of the small Willow United Methodist Church. The work includes a community food bank; and assistance with emergency needs, such as firewood, heating fuel, and responding to other issues that arise in small rural communities.
Much of what Fran does is to connect people--those who need assistance with those who can offer it. The food bank, supported by churches and civic groups in Willow, serves some 135 families each month, and also receives help from three government food assistance programs. About half of the food bank volunteers are also recipients of assistance; these persons want to help others in return for what they have received.
Each summer, the ministry partners with the Willow Public Library to provide a meal for all those who attend a summer reading program on Thursdays, and to take books and lunches to families in Caswell Lake, an isolated area 20 miles north of Willow. The summer lunch is specifically for children who would have free breakfast and lunch during the school year. For many families in Caswell Lake, the van with books and lunches may be the only visitors they have all week.
Ms. Lynch arrived in Alaska in November of 1996. The ministry was just taking shape and over the years has grown and shifted to meet changing needs. The one constant is the fact that there are families in Willow who live in poverty, and the church and community have both a responsibility and the ability to help them.
Fran grew up in Holston Conference in Tennessee. She was shaped as a person by her parents' commitment to live the Christian faith. Her father was a minister. She graduated from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, Scarritt Graduate School in Nashville, Tennessee. She was commissioned a deaconess in The United Methodist Church in 1986.
Fran has served in a variety of settings, including Henderson Settlement in the Red Bird Missionary Conference in Kentucky; Open Door Community House in Columbus, Georgia; and Brevard College, a United Methodist school in Brevard, North Carolina. Her husband, JD, is a retired army pilot.
: Holston Annual Conference
, South Georgia Annual Conference
, Western North Carolina Annual Conference
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