The Happy Church, a Charis Fellowship congregation in eastern Kentucky (Mike Tabor, senior pastor), has been serving the Appalachian community for more than 20 years. The church operates several outreaches throughout the year to meet both physical and spiritual needs.
The church has two locations, Jackson and Clayhole, that used to be two independent churches but are now united. Mike Tabor is the senior pastor and has been involved in the church since its inception as a home church two decades ago. Prior to following God’s call to Kentucky, Mike was a studio musician, licensed physical therapist assistant, police officer, and director of a kid’s program in Tennessee. His wife Connie was a registered nurse.
“Eastern Kentucky is one of the most impoverished areas in the U.S.,” Mike said. The Happy Church seeks to “turn pieces of despair into a picture of hope.” The church campus houses a gymnasium, thrift store, shelter, and playground. They utilize these tools to meet physical needs and build connections that open the door to spiritual conversation and Gospel impact.
Ministering to families through kids’ and teen outreach programs is a huge focus of the church. “The community knows we love the kids because we have proved we care about them,” Mike explained. The church provides ongoing ministries to engage kids and teens. Bible quizzing, Awana, kids’ night, teen night, volleyball, music, and drama are some of the programs offered. Many of the teens who have grown up in the church volunteer with the kids programs, discipling the next generation the same way they were.
Many of the young people that attend church programs come from challenging home situations that has been affected by drugs and alcohol. The church is a place a refuge, a place they want to be. Food is every time the doors are open, ensuring no one who attends a church event will go hungry.
Happy Soles is an ongoing outreach ministry that started as a way to provide shoes for school. Through donations from local organizations and religious institutions, the ministry has grown exponentially. Today, the ministry provides winter clothing, school supplies, holiday meals, Christmas presents, and scholarships. In December, the church distributed 150 winter coats more than 100 Christmas meal kits.
Over the last year the church has adapted to a new way of doing ministry. Due to gathering restrictions and safety protocols, the church is doing “extremely limited in-person activities.” Although schools in the area are meeting two days a week, most parents are opting to keep their kids home. The church is looking for creative ways to still invest in the kids’ lives and connect in very small groups when possible. Delivering food and clothing is a way the church is still able to minister to families and share the love of Jesus with them.
Mike’s son, Phil, helped set up and upgrade the audio/visual for online services, and teen volunteers from the church helped establish a YouTube channel and Instagram account. Teens in the church also stepped up to provide worship for the online services. “Our online ministry is thriving, reaching more people than ever,” Mike commented. Whereas the in-person gatherings drew about 100 adults, the online services have more than 3,000 viewers, mostly within a 25-mile radius of the church. Mike hopes this translates into deeper connections used by our Father to grow the Kingdom.
Pray for The Happy Church as they continue to find ways to minister to their community. Pray that the Gospel would be shared through the meeting of physical needs. Send Pastor Mike an encouraging note here.