Oct. 1—The Angel Mission founded by Ellen and Alan Huth just over a year ago is thriving, and the two are especially pleased that it's been a blessing to so many.
Ellen Huth developed an affinity for angels when she was young. While they're depicted in a variety of forms and roles, in Christianity they typically take on the job of messengers from God or guardians. Guardian angels are source of comfort for people across the world, and Huth is among them.
"They bring about a sense of peace, inner peace, when I see an angel," Ellen Huth said. "It's something about them that I'm fascinated with."
The Angel Ministry has come a long way since its inception in June 2021, Alan Huth said. The ministry started humbly enough. Around 11 years ago, Ellen Huth stumbled onto a crochet angel and deciding to give it as a gift to someone she knew going through a difficult time. That small act had a big enough impact that she started giving them to more people.
"We were living up in the Atlanta area, and she's always been fascinated by angels," Alan Huth said. "She'd hand out these angels to people who were suffering or having a hard time in the hospital or hospice. She kept doing that when we moved here."
She and Alan moved to Brunswick five years ago and continued the practice.
It was in June of last year that the ministry became an official outreach of First United Methodist Church of Brunswick thanks to the Rev. Wright Culpepper, the church's pastor, who saw the potential the small angels had to help people.
Since then, the ministry has gifted almost 1,500 angel packages to people dealing with tough situations, whether they are related to health or loss. Forty of the packages went to the Arbery family during the trial of Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan, who were convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in November 2021. The ministry sent another 40 to victims of a particularly devastating series of tornadoes in Kentucky in December 2021.
The majority of the angel packages have been distributed in Glynn County, however, to places like to Southeast Georgia Health System, where Culpepper is the chaplain. He distributes them to patients and staff who are having difficult and stressful times, Ellen Huth said. She also takes them to Sparrow's Nest, a food bank in Brunswick, and nursing homes like Magnolia Manor on St. Simons Island.
Each package includes either a silver angel or a white crochet angel and a card reminding recipients that they aren't alone.
"There are angels above us, angels amongst us. They are vigilantly watching over us. Here is a very special guardian angel to watch over you and offer you hope, comfort and peace. The thoughts and prayers of many are with you," it reads.
The silver angels are a more recent innovation, Alan Huth said, and sprang from a surprising connection to a couple in Australia. After The News published an article last year about the ministry, a man from Australia contacted the Huths about their angels.
"His wife apparently has been making these angels ever since she was a teenager," Ellen Huth said. "She grew up in Estonia, which was under the Soviet Union then, and sold the angels to American missionaries to provide some extra income for her family. She still makes angels but doesn't sell them anymore."
The Huths received one of their crochet angels in the mail, but found the postage to be cost-prohibitive for them to mail another back. Instead, they mailed a photo of the two side-by-side and a flat silver angel in an envelope. As a consequence, the two couples remain pen pals and started the Great International Angel Exchange, mailing angels to people around the world who need an uplifting message.
On Sunday, the Huths and First United Methodist will celebrate Guardian Angels Day, a feast day primarily observed by Catholic churches every year on Oct. 2. They hope to use the holiday to bring more attention to what the little angels can do for people and to raise money to expand the ministry.
Alan and Ellen hope to start giving out "thank you" angels to people who go above and beyond, from large acts of kindness and generosity to something as simple as cutting the lawn for someone with mobility issues. Another goal is to increase their reach beyond First United Methodist.
"We didn't want it to just serve our church and its members, but the whole Glynn County community," Ellen Huth said.