Reeling Them in for Decades – with Kindness and a Heart for Service
You can catch her on a fall Sunday morning at her table at the bottom of the stairs at First United Methodist Church. It’s October, tickets are in hand, and she is ready for the Sunday school rush. If you have been around this church or are involved with Camp Aldersgate’s Fish Fry, you probably know her. This dedicated and kind woman is Mrs. Martha Faulkner.
For over 70 years now, Faulkner has been involved with Camp Aldersgate, pouring into everyone around her. Her involvement with the United Methodist Women (now known as United Women in Faith) brought her to Aldersgate in 1950, just three years after it was purchased by the group of Methodist women.
“At first, Camp Aldersgate was a big tree area that was way out. We are happy it is still around and didn’t sell when everyone wanted to buy it. I am so thrilled over what it has become,” said Faulkner.
Faulkner recalls the early days of cleaning out the old turkey house and holding interracial meetings (one of the primary reasons Camp Aldersgate was started.) “That worked beautifully, but with a lot of hardships…We were threatened and all sorts of things. We struggled,” said Faulkner. Despite the adversity and challenges the group faced, they pressed on and continued to meet.
During that time, Faulkner was the Youth Director at First United Methodist Church, where she brought the youth groups out to Camp Aldersgate for District Youth Meetings. “A lot of them are grown up now and buying Fish Fry tickets,” she said.
Faulkner recalls the different outreach opportunities Aldersgate offered such as senior care, church groups and respite care. “As we progressed, we were trying to figure out what we could do that would serve best for the community.”
Aldersgate leaders were interested in expanding the offerings for individuals with special needs when Dr. Kelsey Caplinger was on the Board of Directors in the early 1970s.
“It was something different and something extremely needed.”
Faulkner herself served on the Camp Aldersgate Board of Directors as both an elected and ex-officio member for several years during the eighties.
A PASSION FOR FISH FRY
Since the first Fish Fry in 1983, this annual fundraiser has been one of Faulkner’s passions. In fact, she is known for her ticket salesmanship. Faulkner says she especially loves to promote Fish Fry at her church: “They announce it from the pulpit and say, ‘See Martha after church!’”
She sets up her ticket table two Sundays before the event and makes sure Fish Fry is included in the church newsletter and calendar. As for her selling strategy? Her table is strategically placed where the Sunday school classes dismiss, so she can catch the most people. Faulkner says that even people who cannot be there because they are out of town, will buy a ticket just to donate.
“It’s not hard for me to sell tickets at my church. We’ve had so many people who have served on the board and have been campers…Aldersgate is a part of us,” said Faulkner.
Over the past forty years of Fish Fry, Faulkner says she has always attended unless she was sick or out of town. One of her favorite memories was the bake sale with the United Methodist Women.
“I just used to bake, bake, bake, bake. I’ve been to almost every one of them working the bake sale. For years, I made 12-16 pounds of chocolate and peanut butter fudge. I did that up until we stopped it due to the pandemic,” she said.
If you ask her what the best part of Fish Fry is (besides the fish), she’ll tell you it’s all about awareness. “The more people we can get out here, the more they understand and support Camp Aldersgate. The younger people need to see it and know that this is a tremendous facility and tremendous mission.”
Celebrate 40 years with us!
You can buy individual tickets for Fish Fry online, at the door (or from Mrs. Martha) for $20. Family Packs for four (4) sell for $65.
Sunday, October 29th
2000 Aldersgate Road.