She joined a team from Columbus, Ohio, which had been influenced by a former minister and had been going to Montgomery Presbyterian Church for a few years.
She said she knew the church she grew up on wasn’t doing well, for the town had become a depressed one. Past members of the church were the business leaders, teachers and professional people of the town. This population is gone now, she continued, and the membership of the church is very slim. The church is now a mission center where groups come in to stay and go out into the community to make life a little better for others by working on their houses.
“I wasn’t sure what I would do when I decided to go,” Steele began, “but felt sure the Lord would work it out.”
When she asked Sylvia Coyle and Virginia Orr to go with her, they said “Yes,” — not asking where. The ladies love to cook, so Steele felt sure cooking would be their place with the group. Steele said it was new for all of them for she hadn’t been back to Montgomery in years and this was the first for them.
As it turned out the women who normally would be the lead cooks for the Ohio group couldn’t come, so when the Cleveland ladies showed up, it was a prayer answered. Tim Stewart, who is over the West Virginia Ministries, nicknamed the Cleveland group the “Tennessee Trio.”
The name Tennessee Trio stuck and that is what the Ohio group calls them, although the trio participants change from year to year. The trio spent the week working in the clothes closet at the church, and preparing dinner for the group as they came in from working all day on a house. The working group would get up at 6 a.m. and be gone until 5 p.m.
“They were very appreciative of our meals,” Steele said, “for they could come in and shower and not worry about dinner.” She said they enjoyed the fellowship with the mission group, expecially the devotions they had together.
“When we left at the end of the week we all felt it was a very special time spent at Montgomery Presbyterian. I will always remember how, when we got back to Orr’s house, we formed a circle and said a prayer of thanks for our time together on the trip.”
The next year, Orr couldn’t go on the trip, but Gay Moore approached Steele about going to West Virginia. Moore said Father Craig Morgan had influenced her on doing outreach ministry and she would like to make the trip. “Just as the Ohio group had been influenced by a minister, she had also,” Steele said. “It was the domino effect — we were helping someone help someone else.”
That year the trio included Arman Epperson, Moore and Steele. “We had a very special time with the group playing Banana Grams, having devotions and singing in the choir on Sunday,” Steele said. “We worked in the clothes closet, helped serve breakfast on Tuesday to people coming in for their commodities and cooked dinner for the Ohio group.”
A college student who had been staying at the church doing an internship said he was very appreciative of their cooking for he had been living on fast food all summer. Every night the trio would get a big thank-you from Hayden and the Ohio group. Steele said it was a very special time for the three of them. “As we left the church and said goodbye to our friends,” she added, “we knew we wanted to come back next year.”
Moore couldn’t go back the following year because she would be in England at that time writing a book on Women’s Spirituality, so a third was needed for the trio. Steele asked Becky Mobbs, who said, “Yes,” and another trio was off again to West Virginia.
And this year, a group from northern West Virginia joined the Ohio group, Steele said, so “it was meeting new people and being with old friends.”
Again, the team had a busy week of cooking and working in the church helping people and when they returned, she said they felt it had been a week of many levels of friendship, and spirituality.
Next year, the Tennessee Trio will be off again to West Virginia to help those who each year come to Montgomery Presbyterian to go out to help someone have a better life.
“I believe the Lord has worked in our lives on each of our trips,” Steele confided. “This has been a special time for each one of us.”