Lighthouse Ministries celebrates 11 years of service
By Dwight Dana
Morning News reporter
Published: June 10, 2008
Lighthouse Ministries celebrated 11 years of service to the community Tuesday by honoring volunteers during its annual Illumination Luncheon in the Floyd Center at Carolinas Hospital System in Florence.
Lighthouse is a nonprofit, faith-based social service agency dedicated to being “a source of light in times of darkness” to those in crisis in Florence County. It’s supported mostly by donations from individuals and local churches.
The executive director is the Rev. Dr. J. Austin Watson. He recognized retiring board members David DeWitt, of DeWitt Farms, and Paula Hinson, a teacher at All Saints’ Episcopal Day School in Florence, during Tuesday’s luncheon.
Watson also was the featured speaker.
“You are what make Lighthouse Ministries possible,” he said looking out over the packed house. “You are our partners who continue to amaze me with your generosity and support.”
Watson said he gains much from his interactions with them and “others who have a passion for God’s mission with the poor and disenfranchised.” He said they are a reminder of Jesus’ words, “When you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me.”
“You have the power to influence people in positive ways, we all do,” he said. “Nothing is done in a vacuum. When we see the world as one, in which we are connected to every person in the universe, our actions for good reach far and wide.”
Watson recalled Dr. Joseph Hough, an ethics professor from his days in the seminary. He trained students in cultural diversity, inter religious understanding, group interactions and community organization. Students had to apply for his course by filling out a long application.
Watson debated about applying for the class. He said he thought maybe he wasn’t ready, something he told Hough in person.
“His words stick with me to this day,” Watson said. “He looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘None of us are ever ready.”
Watson became one of nine students in the class.
“Dr. Hough had a vision for racial understanding at a very turbulent time in this country,” Watson said. “His vision certainly became reality. My year in that program had a profound influence on my life.”
Watson said the experience and training strengthened his resolve to build a better world and to live by the biblical imperative to “Love justice and walk humbly with God.”
“Let us keep caring together, working together, bringing hope together so those who are in crisis can have hope and a light in their times of darkness,” he said.