In 1971, several churches in the Marshall County area banded together under the leadership of the Memphis Annual Conference to provide much needed ministry to the Lakeland area. Property was purchased along Highway 68 and ministry began almost immediately. The Lakeland Parish was pivotal in establishing campground preaching to vacationing visitors to our area. A thriving thrift store, The New to You Shop continues its ministry to those stricken by poverty and disaster. The parish was also chiefly responsible for the establishment and construction of several Senior Citizen's Centers that stretch across Marshall County. The Lakeland Wesley Village is a retirement/assisted living facility that came into being as a direct result of the efforts of those involved with the Lakeland Parish.

As the interstate gained prominence, the tourist industry businesses that dotted the highways declined. The Memphis Annual Conference voted to discontinue the Lakeland Parish as a recipient of funding and no longer appointed clergy for its upkeep. The Parish briefly shared a pastor with the Mt. Carmel/Briensburg charge here in the Paducah District.

For a while, it seemed that the ministries of the Parish would slowly fade into oblivion. In the 1990's, the decision was reached to incorporate the 14 churches in Marshall County as the United Methodist Cooperative Ministry of Marshall County (UMCMMC). After some slow going, the Cooperative regained its sense of vision for ministry. The Highway 68 property was sold and the Cooperative moved to its current location on Cope Road in Benton. At that time, The New to You Shop also moved from its location on the Court Square to a suite of offices and storefronts located nearby to the county's Wal-Mart. Shortly thereafter, the Wal-Mart announced that it was moving to the other side of town to erect a Super Wal-Mart. Concern that The New to You Shop would suffer soon faded as the Cooperative saw its revenue increase dramatically. It would seem that we were bringing business to Wal-Mart and not the other way around.

With the coming of the Igniting Ministry Campaign, the United Methodist Church began to realize that United Methodists were doing great things to advance the kingdom of God. Oddly enough, very few people realized that United Methodists could offer the blessings and assistance that they needed. Nationwide, the United Methodist church ranked number one in the opinion of the general public for its effective ministry out of more than 25 national denominations. Believe it or not, we ranked dead last in recognition. People didn't know that it was the United Methodist Church that they could turn to in times of need. They didn't know that it was the United Methodist Church that was best able to put their donations and offerings to work for Jesus Christ.

With that knowledge, the General Conference eventually approved our Igniting Ministry ad campaign, designed to help people to realize that we United Methodist are here to help.

Now what does that have to do with Marshall County's longest abbreviation? Simple. The board of directors of the cooperative ministry approved a sort of campaign within the campaign. The Board shortened the name to the Marshall County United Methodist Churches cooperative ministry-McUMC for short.

In 2013 the Cooperative Ministry was re-organized and adopted a new set of bylaws and goals. Included in that reorganization was the decision to rename the Cooperative Ministry. The 13 member churches approved the name "Third Place Ministries" to replace McUMC. Changes from that re-organization include the sale of some property and the search for a new and larger building for the New To You Shop. Changes from that reorganization are ongoing.

Current ministries include
· The New to You Shop

· The Day1 Radio Program and Day1 Follow-Up Program

· Food Pantry (In association with the Benton First UMC)

· Crisis Counseling

· Crisis Assistance (medical and utility bills)

· Emergency Assistance (household replacement after fires, storms, etc.)

· County-Wide Youth Ministry

For more information on these and other aspects of your Third Place Ministries cooperative ministry, call 270 527-5147.

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