By Sharon Mager
“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and provided redemption for His people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets in ancient times; salvation from our enemies and from the clutches of those who hate us. He has dealt mercifully with our fathers and remembered His holy covenant—the oath that He swore to our father, Abraham. He has given us the privilege since we have been rescued from our enemies’ clutches, to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness in His presence all our days.” (Luke 1:68-75 HCSB)
As we transition from Thanksgiving to Advent and Christmas, churches are experiencing some of their most fruitful outreaches. Here are just a few church news items, telling how God is using the body of Christ to show love and to share the Good News with the world while growing closer together in fellowship. Also, newsworthy is that the first BCM/D church designed for special needs families, “The Gathering Place,” started meeting publicly. Praise the Lord.
Faith Baptist Church,(FBC) Glen Burnie, Md., Senior Pastor Tim Byer said FBC used to have an annual worship service on Thanksgiving Eve, but that changed three years ago. Rather than meet for their annual worship service they decided to do a hands-on mission project.
They started partnering with “The Outreach Program,” an organization that allows churches the opportunity to provide the funds for raw goods, like rice, beans, soy mix and vegetables as well as the experience of preparing and packing the items for transport to impoverished countries or areas that have a special need. The church loves it.
“It’s one of the most well-attended things we do,” Byer said. “Registration fills up like hotcakes in and out of the church.”
This year, the food went to victims in Puerto Rico who are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irma which hit in 2017.
Byer, describing the process, said representatives from “The Outreach Program” bring equipment and the food staples, along with personnel to oversee the project. “We set up assembly stations in our gym, and then we sort and package and palletize all the meals. Then a trucking company comes and picks it all up.”
The beauty of the system, he said, is that it involves children as young as five-years-old working with their grandparents on the same project. There’s plenty for all to do.
The cost of each meal to Puerto Rico is 30 cents. FBC had a goal of providing 40,000 meals, but they tremendously exceeded that goal and raised funds to provide 70,000 meals.
Many Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware churches served food to their local communities during the Thanksgiving holiday. Berlin First Baptist Church, Md., served nearly 400 meals during their annual free community Thanksgiving dinner. More than 50 volunteers helped with the outreach.
Further East, Ocean City Baptist Church, (OCBC) Md., regularly feeds more than 500 people each Thanksgiving. Some folks eat in the church fellowship hall, and others drop by for carry-out meals. Members also take food to shut-ins.
Inner Harbor Ministry volunteers fed over 125 people on Thanksgiving Day at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Curtis Bay, Md. Volunteers from Restoration Church, Curtis Bay, Md., prepared turkey and ham meals. Middle River Baptist Church, Md., also had representation. Other volunteers from local churches lent a helping hand and provided donations.
Looking ahead to Christmas events, “One Hope,” a ministry of the Garden Church, Baltimore, Md., will host “Jazz Christmas,” featuring the Leo Maxey Quartet, playing original compositions, Christmas music, and jazz classics. Volunteers will serve light refreshments. There will also be a time of sharing about the purpose of One Hope and the stories of those who were transformed through the ministry.
The purpose of “One Hope” is to develop and train disciples, through a holistic approach, from the community for the urban church.
Tickets are free, but donations will be accepted and will directly support One Hope. For more information, click here.
Marbury Baptist Church, Md. will have their annual “Breakfast With Santa” outreach from 9 to 11:30 am on Dec. 1. Church Administrator Billy Moore said the men in the church rise as early as 4 am on Saturday to start cooking the breakfast for the 250 -300 people that show up each year.
Volunteer photographers take pictures of children with Santa and then print them out for the guests.
Moore said many people are especially excited about the photos. “There are many folks, who can’t afford to go to out to get their kids’ pictures taken with Santa, especially if there are a lot of children in the family. Here it’s free and open to all.” It’s also more comfortable, Moore said. Children work on crafts while waiting for Santa and then while awaiting their photos to be printed, families can enjoy music and carols in the sanctuary.
The food and photos are free, but the church requests that those planning to attend the event call the church office at 301-743-3701 to ensure adequate supplies.
The Gathering Place, Bowie, Md., had its first Celebration Worship on Nov. 18. Pastor Tommy Rowe, in a Facebook comment, wrote, “God continues to move us forward in this adventure to start a church that in intentionally inclusive to individuals and families with special needs.”
The vision of the church is to create an environment where families who deal with special needs and issues of disability feel included in the church and are therefore receptive to Gospel Truth.