From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Man creates dilly of a ministry with Mickel's Pickles

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 11 Apr 2000 14:16:30

April 11, 2000  News media contact: Tim Tanton·(615)742-5470·Nashville,
Tenn. 10-71B{195}

A UMNS Feature
By Holly E. Nye*

ROCK CITY FALLS, N.Y. (UMNS) -- In the biblical parable of the talents, the
master rebukes a servant for burying his talent in the ground, instead of
multiplying it for good.  

The Rev. Chris Mickel, 44, buried his "talent" in the ground, and it came up
as pickles -- and it was multiplied for the good of others.

When kidney failure resulting from diabetes forced Mickel to go on
disability leave four years ago, his "Protestant work ethic" led him to
think of ways he could be in ministry beyond the pulpit.  

"I grew up on a farm," he said, "and I am used to gardening. It's also
physical activity that is good for my health. I realized I could combine
exercise with helping others financially." The idea for Mickel's Pickles was

Working around his three-day-a-week dialysis schedule, Mickel tends a
1,000-square-foot garden, raising organic vegetables. Because of theological
concern for the care of creation, he is committed to gardening without
commercial fertilizer or pesticides. He and his landlady, Tyyne Koivisto,
prepare and can the vegetables: dilly beans, cucumber pickles of several
varieties, zucchini pickles, vegetable soup and applesauce. They sell their
produce in pint or quart jars for a nominal price of $2 to $4. 

All of the proceeds go into a scholarship fund to help seminary students
prepare for ministry, specifically in rural "town and country" settings. 

Beginning this year, the Troy Annual Conference will award the Mickel
Koivisto Scholarship, and Drew University Theological School will award the

"Without scholarship help, I wouldn't have gotten through seminary," Mickel
reflected.  "I'd like to be able to help other students in the same way." 

He remembered the words of Methodism's founder, John Wesley, who instructed
Christians to "earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can."  

This led him to a realization: "I've got as much as I need, even on
disability pay; I
need to live simply and to give."

Mickel has been on dialysis for five years and is awaiting a kidney
transplant. In addition to his gardening ministry, he is president of Drew's
alumni association and serves on the search committee for a new dean for the
seminary. As his health allows, he also continues his lifelong service to
the local volunteer fire department. 

He is not letting his talents go unused.

"The parable of the talents was a story that motivated me to go into the
ministry," Mickel said of the passage in Matthew 25:14-30. "Now I can help
students pursue their own ministry, and I can also help small churches to
see that there are always ways to be in useful ministry." His concern is not
just to sell pickles and fund the scholarship, but also to motivate others
to find ways to multiply their talents in ministry. 

"There is always something a person or a church can do, no matter how

# # #

*Nye is media editor for the Troy Annual Conference of the United Methodist

United Methodist News Service
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