Picayune People: The Rev. George Perry feeds community’s body and soul
The Rev. George Perry’s mission in life is simple: He helps people.
That can mean taking a phone call in the middle of the night, sitting down to listen to someone who needs a friend, or working a grill to feed the hungry.
“I came up helping people,” said Perry, who has been the pastor of St. Frederick Baptist Church in Marble Falls for the past six years.
He and his wife, Linda, have lived in Marble Falls for over 10 years.
Perry grew up in Georgetown, where his grandfather and father worked as mechanics. He briefly followed in their footsteps, using his skills to help people along the way as he changed spark plugs and adjusted carburetors.
“People would bring me their cars, and they might not have any money,” he recalled.
Instead of turning them away, Perry popped the hoods and found the parts needed to save those vehicles from the junkyard.
When he and Linda moved to Marble Falls, Perry kept on helping and serving. He soon became a deacon at St. Frederick Baptist Church, where he and Linda were members.
“It was kind of a handyman, you-help-take-care-of-the-church business,” he said. “Making sure the lawn gets mowed.”
As a youngster attending an African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in Georgetown, Perry was often chosen to lead group prayers. On Saturdays, he helped the church host a meal for anyone who wanted it, which was when he realized how some people didn’t have enough to eat. That fact weighed on him.
“There were times when I had to go to bed hungry, and that’s just something you don’t wish or want someone else to go through,” he said.
He holds on to that memory as he serves the St. Frederick congregation and the local community.
While at the Marble Falls church, he soon discovered a new calling — one from the Lord.
“Maybe 10 or 11 years ago, I just heard a message one morning to announce myself to join the ministry team,” Perry said.
He studied under several of the congregation’s pastors before taking over.
As he ministers to his community’s spiritual needs, Perry continues to serve its physical needs as well, particularly those of the hungry. St. Frederick Baptist Church serves 40-50 free lunches every Tuesday and Thursday through its Mission Outreach program on the church grounds. Mission Outreach also delivers more than 200 meals to people around the community every Saturday.
A few years ago, he helped start Mission Marble Falls to cover the remaining weekdays with free lunches. That mission currently operates out of the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes-Marble Falls unit’s kitchen.
One of Perry’s joys is sitting with folks during those lunches and listening to them. He gives out his cellphone number to just about anyone because he can’t help them if they can’t reach him, he said. Sometimes, those calls come in the middle of the night, but Perry always answers.
“I know some of the people who I give my phone number out to don’t come here to church, and they might not even go to any church,” Perry said. “But I still give it to them, and I still answer, because I want to help educate them, share the message with them.”
In between all that, he also prepares a Sunday sermon. He laughed a bit when thinking about his schedule and how he fits that in.
“Early mornings,” Perry said of the process. “I wake up at two or three, get up and read and write. Then, during the day, I find breaks to read and write more. I take all the notes I’ve scribbled down and pull it all together.”
Meals and preaching serve the same mission for Perry.
“They go hand in hand because people who come in here to eat, they also want to know about the Lord,” he said. “And I love talking to them about Him. Sometimes, they just need someone to listen to them, you know.”
Perry and his congregation also help the homeless. Recently, Perry allowed two families to park their cars in the church parking lot during the night because they did not have a safe place to sleep. The church then helped them get jobs and places to live.
“It’s about helping people where they need to be helped,” Perry said. “It’s not a handout but a hand up.”
When asked for advice on what we all can do to create a better world for each other, he offered two words: “Be kind.”