Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry (GHCCM) is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that has been in continuous operation since 1969.
The idea of a cooperative Christian ministry began in 1968 when a group of ministers in the Hickory Ministerial Association suggested the formation of an organization to help individuals and groups for crisis assistance. Three ministers meeting as the original steering group were Rev. Dr. Cecil Heckard of First United Methodist, Rev. J. Whitner Kennedy of First Presbyterian, and Rev. Dr. Albert Keck of St. Andrews Lutheran. Other ministers and laypersons from several Hickory churches met, and in February, 1968, the Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry was formed. The organization was chartered in 1969.
The Ministry has always been led by a group of faithful volunteers, contributors, and leaders. Our board is composed of volunteers. A tour of the facilities reveals a legacy of many local families.
The early Church membership was 14. Today, we have more than 70 churches supporting the ministry. To become a member, our guidelines require only two things—recognition and belief in Jesus Christ and financial support (line item in the budget of most supporting churches). A display with the names of member churches hangs in our lobby. We are continuing to invite area churches to support GHCCM.
In the early days, people referred to us as “Gickem” and later as “CCM”. Our focus has always been volunteerism and community collaboration to accomplish our mission. We currently have several collaborative partners.
The first office person (1969) was Holly Haman. Later in 1969, there were two coordinators – Betty Sinclair and the Rev. Tom Sigmon. In 1970, Bonnie Phillips took over. In August of 1970, the first Executive Director, Frances Frock (1970-1988), was employed. She recalls that the mission was really putting Matthew 25 to work in our community and, of course, the first task was fund raising (some things never change).
The first locations where offices at the First United Methodist Church and First Presbyterian. Additional sites were a house near Lenoir-Rhyne University, rental property from Viewmont Baptist Church, and our present location on 1st Avenue SE. Our building was named “Cooperative Christian Ministry Eunice Moore Memorial Center” in honor of Mrs. Eunice Moose.
From the beginning, GHCCM responded to the needs of the area. Beginning as a “Clothes Closet” programs were added as needs became evident. One of the first programs was a tutoring program at Ridgeview Elementary School. The program expanded to all elementary schools and was eventually taken over by Hickory City Schools in 1975.
Training for another program, called “Outreach,” began in the fall of 1970 and continued through 1980. The program established a 24-hour, 7-day a week telephone crisis line. This would later become a function of Catawba County Mental Health.
Telecare, a program where volunteers checked on the elderly living alone, was staffed by GHCCM volunteers from 1971-1980.
GHCCM and the Lutheran Nursing Home started “Meals On Wheels.” The Lutheran Home cooked and GHCCM volunteers delivered meals. The Department of Social Services supplied the clients. DSS eventually got federal grants to take over the program. GHCCM volunteers continued to provide and schedule the volunteers for three routes until the early 1990’s.
The ministry has continued to experienced much growth. Click here to read more.