The Bluefield Union Mission was declared by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions to be the “busiest little Mission in America.” The Bluefield Union Mission is a full-service Mission, open 24/7/365 for those in need. It is the desire of the staff and board of the Bluefield Union Mission to act as Jesus would. For this reason, the Bluefield Union Mission does not preach at it’s visitors but chooses to show the love of Christ to everyone who comes through its doors.
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Bluefield Union Mission History
The Bluefield Union Mission has been around since 1931. It was first created when 10 churches came together in union to serve their community in the depths of the Great Depression. Soon, this room, separated from a brewery by a common wall, became much more. The Bluefield Union Mission now holds great value in the Bluefield Community and is constantly trying to help in every way that it can.
The Union Mission has a purpose to serve the community by offering meals, groceries, utility assistance, clothing assistance and transportation for individuals in the surrounding areas. The Union Mission’s mission statement is to provide physical, social, and spiritual assistance to people in need 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a years.
After the Bluefield Union Mission opened in 1931, Dr. Cannel, a Christian physician and pediatrician, started a children’s clinic. He made a deal with the hospital that he could bring sick children in, and the hospital would only charge the Bluefield Union Mission $3 a day no matter what the illness was. He even performed tonsillectomies and other minor surgeries right in the Union Mission. Ever since then, there has been a healthcare component at the Mission.
Soon afterward, the Bluefield Union Mission moved from the brewery to the east end of Bluefield and then in the 1940s it moved to Scott’s street and into Providence Hospital. In the time of segregation this hospital was considered the “black hospital,” but as soon as segregation came to an end, the Union Mission made the hospital its new home.
During that time, 1944, Rev. Dodson became the director of the Mission. It was in that transition that the Union Mission expanded to become a home for single mothers. A mothers club formed in the community, as women would take in young, unwed, pregnant mothers who had been cast aside or sent away by their families. These women would act as mothers to the girls as they went through their pregnancies and birthing processes. However, when the United States government began to offer more options for pregnant women, the Bluefield Union Mission’s services were no longer needed. The mothers club turned into what is now the Women’s Auxiliary Club.
In 1969, the Bluefield Union Mission moved into its current location, and doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. In 1975, Craig Hammond’s father became the director of the Mission and remained the director for 23 years until Craig took over in 1998. Then in the 1980’s Judge Bivens, part of the circuit court, teamed with the first Mr. Hammond to start the renewal project. This project, now in its 36th year of operation, included staff going into jails, prisons, and detention centers to assist inmates and their families. Today, the Mission goes once a week to develop relationships with those in the detention centers and prison systems. They interact with them by playing games and they work with the families that are left behind. The also try to help released inmates reenter the community living world.
Today, 159 local churches share a union that once was shared by 10. The Union Mission also receives support from individuals, civic groups, and businesses.