By Rachel Carr, Diocesan Missioner for Communications
George Howell loves helping young people. From serving as a youth pastor to raising funds to send disadvantaged children to weekend camps, Howell has dedicated his adult life to creating vital community through youth leadership.
Now 96 years old, Howell’s passion hasn’t waned.
“I’ve always believed that children hold our future. If the Christian movement is to survive and grow, it is necessary that there be greater emphasis on Hispanic and Black communities, beginning with ministries to children and youth,” Howell said.
The Patricia Minkler Howell Children’s Outreach Fund is dedicated to creating vital ministries for children and youth in need, especially programs with a focus on children helping children.
These grants are available to encourage congregations, dioceses, and nonprofits to develop community-based outreach programs for children through age 18.
“Jesus’ ministry was an outreach ministry. He helped the people who needed help the most,” Howell said.
Raising young people up as leaders became one of Howell’s major initiatives for creating the endowment in his late wife’s name.
“I taught a law course for 10 years, and I learned through the process of teaching that you go back and learn more yourself. When you get teenagers involved in teaching the stories of Jesus, they’re learning it as well,” Howell said.
Howell’s inspiration came from a life of service to children and seeing the impact children’s programs could have on congregational and community wellness. His second wife, Patricia, held the same passion for children and youth ministries.
Howell and Patricia Minkler had been longtime friends before their marriage in 1993. Both had lost their spouses and saw each other through new eyes after they’d both been widowed.
Patricia was an artist and a musician. She taught watercolor classes and had a beautiful singing voice.
“I’m looking at her pictures right now,” Howell said. “She was a very gifted person.”
The Howells made a home near Hendersonville, and George, at age 66, saw a children’s camp ministry for the first time.
“A group of Episcopal churches in Atlanta brought children in for a week. While I was there, they were competing to see who could do the best rap blessing,” Howell said, amazed at the warmth and love he saw.
Soon after, Howell got involved in a tutoring program for disadvantaged children, which sparked the idea for weekend camp sessions. He rallied volunteers and donations, an effort that brought about multiple weekend camps serving hundreds of children who may have never had the opportunity to attend.
“It was such a blessing,” Howell said. “I had volunteers calling asking about the next one all the time.”
When Patricia’s health started to decline, the Howells moved to Deerfield Retirement Community, and George has since moved to Louisiana to be near family.
The endowment in Patricia’s honor means to provide opportunities to enrich children’s lives and keep moving forward on the work that she and George dearly loved.
“Outreach to me is what Jesus did. Jesus helped people,” Howell said. “You have to teach children to be leaders because that is what will keep the church going.”
Grant applications are due no later than April 30. More information about the Children’s Outreach Grant is available at diocesewnc.org/grants-loans.