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Bakken Oil Rush Ministry grows with need in Watford City

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communication, Dakotas UMC

Malik Wilson, of KXNET News in Bismarck and Minot, recently reported on the Bakken Oil Rush Minstry's desire to do some upgrades in the Thrift Store and Quonset buildings. 

"What an amazing first year as the director of Bakken Oil Rush Ministry," says Dwyane Keener, director of the Bakken Oil Rush Ministry in Watford City, North Dakota. "God has moved powerfully and repeatedly proven the vitality and significance of this amazing ministry and the purpose. Keener retired from the United States Air Force on June 30, 2019. On July 1, 2020, Keener and his wife took over as the outreach ministry director, established by the Dakotas Conference in 2014, following Jim and Kathie Konsor.

In 2019, the Bakken Oil Rush ministry assisted individuals and families more than 7000 times with clothing, winter wear, and household goods, including furniture.  

"This number is how many purchases were made in the Thrift Store," says Keener. "Many of these folks bring at least one friend or family member with them so the number could easily double to over 14,000. The 2019 numbers have increased over 2018 numbers, which tells us the need for this ministry is still great, and the word is spreading about what we provide."  

Bakken Thrift Store Sign

New banner for the Bakken Oil Rush Thrift Store. Photos from Oil Rush Ministry Facebook page.

Marketing efforts created an increased awareness of the ministry throughout the community of Watford City. Specific marketing efforts were a display banner at event tables, updated brochures, personalized pop sockets, ink pens, and magnets, all sharing ministry's information. The website www.oilrushministry.com was updated to include folks' capability to donate securely by credit or debit cards and allow donations on mobile devices.

The ministry has begun a volunteer incentive plan. Churches, scout groups, corporations, or individuals who want to complete a community service project or want to invest their time in this ministry are welcome. Those who do not mind having their volunteer hours tracked receive Bakken Oil Rush Ministry "bucks." Folks may use the ministry "bucks" to shop in the Thrift store. Hours are tracks, and persons are awarded the "bucks" after every 20 hours of volunteering. Then, at 100 hours of volunteer service, each volunteer receives a $50 gift card.  

Keener says, "We continue to partner with the Salvation Army, the family crisis shelter, social services, and the prison chaplains providing needed items in a crisis or referring folks to these organizations."

The ministry responded to 36 people in crises this past year. The annual fall coat giveaway provided 97 coats to community members. Keener continued community connections as a member of the Rotary Club, McKenzie County Cares committee, the Watford City Chamber of Commerce, the local Minister's Association, and by speaking at churches.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an increased need for the Watford City region. Oil prices have plummeted; workers have lost hours or become unemployed. Many families find themselves struggling to make ends meet. The Thrift Store has remained open two days a week. To keep everyone safe, only 15 customers are allowed in the store at a time and for a limited time each day. To accommodate 15 customers at a time, customers will need to call to request a shopping appointment.

The story Keener often heard was, "My husband was layed off. We are waiting for a job, or increased production. We need help to get by,."  There were also people who left the community and donated all of their household items to the Thrift Store. The store closed during the month of April but that did not stop the ministry. The time was an opportuntiy to paint, clean, and re-organize. 

In September, a store manager was hired, Gina Peterson. Gina manages the flow of traffic for customers, allowing more people to be served.  "We are definitely able to move forward with the additon of a store manager and a few other staff," says Dwayne. 

In 2020, the Bakken Oil Rush Ministry began a renovation campaign raising funds and looking for volunteers to upgrade the Thrift Store and Quonset. Currently, the Quonset does not have running water. Staff and volunteers, who complete at least 200 working hours weekly in the Quonset, must leave the building to use the restroom. The ministry would like to install a large capacity washer and dryer for convenient cleaning and sorting of clothing in the designated work area. The store manager currently takes large loads of clothing and bedding to the local laundromat, which requires additional time and money.

Additional renovation goals in the Thrift Store include installing plumbing for a sink with running water in the kitchen, install flooring, put a fresh coat of paint on the interior walls, and new shelving.

Miracle Offering 2020 Twitter Borm

"We feel blessed, honored, and thankful for the continued investment in the ministry by the Dakotas Conference and numerous United Methodist Churches through prayers, letters, donations of clothing and other items and financial gifts," says Keener. "You bless us beyond measure with your faithful support. I believe your investment in the ministry glorifies God, and the people of Watford City are edified through your consistent giving. Thank you and God's richest blessings to you."

The Bakken Oil Rush Ministry in Watford City is one of the mission ministries that will be supported by your gifts to the 2020 Miracle Offering. Begin to prepare your hearts and minds for how you can live out God's call to generosity.

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