50 Stories for 50 Years: Laura Stout
Laura Stout, the current Missions Coordinator for First Baptist Church (FBC) Greenville, “grew up valuing community service” in Greenville. She volunteered at FBC when young and later involved in the Volunteer Service Corps at Wake Forest University, demonstrating her love of “being exposed to other people and ideas.” Her desire to help others led her to become an elementary teacher for almost 10 years, creating a time where she loved to see education make a difference in the world. In 2004, however, she felt the longing to begin employment in a “different sort of classroom:” working as the Missions Coordinator at the church in which she was raised. Laura explains that the personality traits of a teacher transferred to her new role, where she plans curriculum for the Children’s Missions Program, connects church members to ministry opportunities, and assists with local relief requests for emergency assistance, among multiple other tasks.
As a longtime member and Missions Coordinator of FBC, Laura knows the depth of the church’s relationship with United Ministries. The congregation has “always collected offerings and/or canned goods” for United Ministries and has been a major participant and sponsor in our fundraisers, especially the Transformation Walk and the annual Uniting for Change Luncheon. In 2006, First Baptist took it a step further to become a host congregation for our Interfaith Hospitality Network (previously GAIHN), which serves families experiencing homelessness. Laura is the primary staff person for this particular relationship. In addition to coordinating, Laura personally volunteers and enjoys getting to build relationships with the families. Many people come to the church looking for assistance as well, so Laura often refers them to United Ministries. “I ask myself how to best help individuals,” she explains, “and I value United Ministries’ Emergency Assistance staff and their expertise,” leading her to connect the person in need with us. Lastly, United Ministries is in the rotation for the church’s Children’s Missions Week, which helps kids from First Baptist “learn, ask questions, and figure out how to be involved” in different organizations in the community.
Laura’s professional life has been intertwined with our organization, but so has her personal life. She says that, “Because I have grown up in Greenville, I still remember how involved the church was in United Ministries. It has always been something my family and I valued in the community and always respected the organization as a leader in the community.” One of her greatest joys as a parent of a young child is seeing her daughter helping with IHN hosting, delivering food donations, and participating in events like the Transformation Walk. United Ministries is grateful for the intricate relationship with First Baptist Greenville and we are so lucky to have Laura as our contact!