A tradition of provision was once again a part of the recent Church of God International General Assembly, which took place July 31 – August 3, 2018.
Alma Kelley was a minister of the gospel with a heart for missions. Burdened for a way to assist the hundreds of missionaries traveling to the General Assembly, Alma recognized one of the needs was for new clothing, or perhaps outfits that reflected American styles. Out of her burden was born Alma’s Closet—a benevolent ministry that operates only at the General Assembly.
The service was made available to the many who have dedicated their lives to international missions. For some, Alma’s Closet may be the only opportunity they have to receive new clothes to wear at the Assembly. In addition, each woman is anointed and prayed for before leaving with her selections.
With Alma’s passing several years ago, the ministry is being carried on by the Redemption Point Church of God in Ooltewah, Tennessee—the church where Alma and her husband, B.L. Kelley, spent their retirement years. For the last several months, Redemption Point members gathered donations, both physical and monetary, to stock the 2018 edition of Alma’s closet.
Opening on Monday, July 30, a steady stream of women missionaries visited Alma’s Closet to browse the more than 700 dresses, 400 pieces of jewelry and accessories, shoes, and even purses and hats. Rental fees for the room at the convention center were paid by Church of God World Missions, and the room was staffed by volunteers from Redemption Point.
“The amount of support we continue to receive for Alma’s Closet is phenomenal,” stated Sharon Ballinger, who has served with her husband, Travis, as pastor of Redemption Point since May 2017. “It is not just Redemption Point, but other churches, individuals, and state and regional offices who contributed more than $12,000 and sent hundreds of dresses.”
Ballinger pointed out that the dresses had to be new, even with the tags still attached.
“Our missionaries deserve the best, so Alma Kelley’s original vision of new, not used clothing remains a staple of the ministry,” she stated.
Alma’s Closet remained open until the selection was depleted. On Tuesday, July 31 from 9:00 to noon, missionaries were invited to return for a second time to be sure all the clothing and accessories were given out.
“We don’t want to return home with anything,” Ballinger concluded. “We want our missionaries to return home blessed with as much as they need and can use.”