Being the Hands and Feet
Milledge Avenue Baptist Church, Athens
Athens-Clarke County has the fourth Highest poverty level in the state of Georgia, and with a population exceeding 120,000 is the poorest metropolitan area in the state. Food scarcity is a dramatic issue in our community, especially among senior adults and children. In 2015, Milledge Avenue Baptist partnered with three congregations and the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia to establish a mobile food distribution ministry. Every other month we gather to distribute 10,000 pounds of supplemental food, serving about 175 families. The vast majority of neighbors we serve are older adults. Food items include eggs, frozen chickens, fresh vegetables, and fruit, baked items and canned goods. On average, each family receives about 50 pounds of food at each distribution. In the fall of 2016, Milledge Avenue Baptist began a strategic partnership with the Clarke County School District to create and stock a permanent food pantry at Clarke Central High School. Members received a 19-gallon blue IKEA bag along with a list of food items that was developed by the school nutrition department, and began filling them during the Advent season. By Christmas Day, 5000 pounds of food and hygiene products were collected and the food pantry opened to students on Valentine’s Day.
-Edward Bolen, Senior Pastor Heritage Baptist Church, Cartersville
Heritage Baptist Church, Cartersville
Heritage began operation inasmuch sometime around 2000 as a way to provide hands-on missions opportunities for church members in our community. The number of projects has grown and so has the involvement, so four years ago we began inviting sister congregations to share in the day of service. Participation now includes three Methodist churches, a Presbyterian church and an Episcopal church-all of which look forward to this annual day of service.
-Michael Tutterow, Pastor
First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island
Our church is a very generous congregation. But while many in our church are active in a variety of local non-profit and ministries, on a congregational level our missional engagement had wanted. We began talking about what it might look like for our church to set aside a day and dedicate it to local missions. Thus, through the work of our mission committee, our annual Neighbor Day was born.
A few months before Neighbor Day. we visit the Sunday school classes in our church and ask them to sponsor a project. We compile the list and ask the church members to pick whatever they are most interested in. A few examples of what we’ve done over the past couple of years include: playing bingo with residents at a local assisted living facility, power washing houses, doing yard work, spending time with the homeless, and partnering with local non-profits to pack nearly 200 bags of food for kids on free/reduced lunch to take home on the weekends.
We’ve seen where the community has been impacted, whether through a smile on the face of residents in assisted living because someone volunteered time to play bingo and show them love, maybe through a yard that is now spotless or through a hungry child who went home with a bag full of food to eat. We meet Jesus when we engage with these people.
I think what I love the most is how a simple day of missions in the community can help give people a push into the larger realm of what God is doing in the world. That’s what we believe God wanted when we started this: people’s hearts set ablaze with a passion for their neighbor, whether down the street or across the sea.
-Justin Moser, Minister to Youth & Missions/Outreach