A Sincere Heart for Ministry

by Trish Duggan, OPC Disaster Response

“You can only fish so much”, Sylvia Kelly joked, referring to her retired husband, Mike, when asked how they are able to spend three-and-a-half months in Neon, Kentucky. Mike and Sylvia are the new site coordinators for the Spring Neon Community Outreach, and they are as friendly as they are sincere. Although officially retired, they have lots of energy, a heart for those in need and a great enthusiasm for serving the Lord.

Just over four years ago Mike retired, selling the cabinet-making business started in his garage. Mike is quick to attribute the success of his business to the grace of God. Sylvia helped Mike by working in the office for about seven years. This experience made them grow closer and is a testament to their strong relationship. Mike was glad for the office help, but even happier, he says, “to be able to spend more time with my wife.” His service as a deacon in multiple OP Churches spans nearly 30 years. Lord willing, he will be elected to the diaconate of Heritage OPC in Wilmington, North Carolina, along with two other men this coming Sunday. 

Sylvia has happily served in many roles over the years. For 25 years, she worked as an administrative assistant for a company just outside of Charlotte. For another nine years, she served her church as an administrative assistant to Pastor Nathan Trice at Resurrection OPC in Matthews, North Carolina and would be happy to be able to do the same at their new church, if that opportunity comes along. 

Both Mike and Sylvia grew up in Christian homes for which they are very thankful. Mike began attending Resurrection with his family when he was 18, and Sylvia began shortly before they were married. Together they helped to start Redeemer OPC in Charlotte with Pastor Cliff Blair for about 13 years, spent a year or so in an ARP Church, and then after selling the business, made the move to Holden Beach, North Carolina, where their house often bustles with visitors who are more like family.

The Kellys are no strangers to Neon Reformed OPC. They visited the church in its infancy, about 16 years ago while on a camping trip, when the church was meeting in a community center. After hearing about the flood back in July, they knew they needed to get involved. “We couldn’t imagine that sweet, small town experiencing that devastation,” Sylvia said with sadness. “We knew we had to get involved and were glad to do even just a little bit.” They both made the seven-plus hour trip to Neon multiple times during the first community outreach phase last year. 

Although the Kellys are aware that making inroads in this often untrusting, autonomous Appalachian community will be difficult, Sylvia is prayerfully hoping to “build trust through the people of the church and in God.” Mike and Sylvia plan to arrive in Neon, with puppy Charlie in tow, at the end of February. Please pray for their travel, as they settle in and begin to make plans. 

Volunteer are needed! Jane Robinson, the volunteer coordinator is ready to answer your questions and reserve your spot in the Neon outreach for Spring. The work will primarily be for non-skilled workers. You can reach Jane by emailing: [email protected].


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