Dozens line up for Christian center's gas-card giveaway
Darlene Mason wasn't sure if she would get to her destination soon enough July 21.
The 63-year-old mother of three foster children had been reminded almost a week earlier to circle the day, Saturday, July 21, on her calendar, but she did think about it again until that morning.
"I walked in one of my kids' rooms (Saturday) morning, and the Lord reminded me," said Mason, who was among the 100 people who lined up outside Kingdom Christian Center, 392 Maplewood Ave., at 9 a.m. July 21 as church members distributed $25 gift cards for gasoline from Shell Oil Co.
The congregation of about 500 members collected $2,500 to purchase 100 gift cards in the amount of $25 each to give away as charity for those in need, said the Rev. Lonnie Keene, senior pastor of Kingdom Christian Center.
"The Lord knows I need this; it is such a blessing," said Mason, a member of the Seventh Avenue Community Missionary Baptist Church.
Mason, of Geers Avenue in the nearby subdivision of Driving Park in east Columbus, learned of the gas card giveaway from a friend in Whitehall who lives near Kingdom Christian Center.
The center did no advertising other than posting an on-site sign so those living nearest to the church likely would have the best opportunity to receive the cards.
Motorists began arriving at the parking lot of the center at about 6:30 a.m., and by 8:30 a.m., a line of at about 75 cars snaked from the center's parking lot, onto Etna Road and down Collingswood Avenue.
Two Whitehall police officers were at the scene for traffic control.
"Our youth members handed out bottled water and gift bags (with information about the center) to people waiting in line," said Missy Bolden, a member of Kingdom Christian Church.
Mason arrived at about 7 a.m. and was among the first to receive the card.
"This $25 will help me so much," said Mason, whose children are 19, 11 and 10.
Mason also transports members of her church to services each Sunday morning.
Keene and his wife, Tracy, along with another couple, founded Kingdom Christian Church in 1997. The four had been ministering on the campus of Ohio State University before opening a ministry at a church on Seventh Avenue.
After five months, the congregation moved to Mock Road and, as its membership grew, eventually to Hamilton Road.
Two years ago, the congregation moved to its current site on Maplewood Avenue, near East Main Street.
"We wanted to do something that would have an impact and help the community," Keene said of the gas-card giveaway.
Congregation members last year performed a similar service, giving away 400 pairs of shoes.
Keene described Kingdom Christian Church as a nondenominational church that strives to be multicultural in its faith.
Kingdom Christian Church has worship services at 10 a.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Wednesdays.