I am very excited to announce that the Serve Tour in Baltimore is scheduled for April 29-30 and your church can participate.
The tour is a new initiative, sponsored by SEND Relief, that allows churches to partner for service projects in cities across the U.S. The first tour took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in October 2021 and the initiative continues in 2022 in Memphis, Tennessee; Meridian, Mississippi; Charleston, South Carolina; and Baltimore.
I believe this tour is an incredible picture of what the Apostle Paul calls “partnership in the gospel” (Philippians 1:5). On April 29-30, with the support of the Baltimore Baptist Association (BBA) and Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware Disaster Relief, dozens of Maryland/Delaware churches will team up for service projects throughout the city. Mission teams from all over the mid-Atlantic region will join Baltimore residents to participate in painting and cleanup projects, block parties, food distribution initiatives, and more. This is a wonderful opportunity for churches to partner in a local missions project that will impact many and has the potential to energize congregations.
Below are a few examples of how churches can assist.
- When Pastors Charlie Mitchell and Trevor Chin launched Epiphany Church (EC) in Baltimore in 2017, they immediately looked for ways to serve their local community. One obvious candidate was nearby Yorkwood Elementary School (Yorkwood). Although Yorkwood has a great team of teachers and staff, it is heavily under-resourced and many kids struggle with poverty or even homelessness. Mitchell and Chin asked the school’s principal how EC could serve and, over the next few years, they built a relationship of trust. EC provided book bags and school supplies, took photos of students to decorate their hallways, and dropped off monthly donuts for the staff. Recently, the principal expressed that the school walls had not been painted for decades and, last summer, EC painted the auditorium. This year, one of the tour projects in Baltimore is to partner with EC to paint Yorkwood’s special needs education room and hallways.
- East Baltimore Graffiti Church (EBGC) is passionate about serving the hungry, the hurting, the homeless, and the hopeless. In 2018, after meeting in a storefront and then a recreation center, Senior Pastor Charlie Brown obtained a 100-year-old building. Church members and other volunteers have been renovating it to turn it into a new ministry and mission center. They hope to have a space to gather on Sundays and for opportunities to provide mission team housing, food and clothing distribution, tutoring, and room for substance abuse recovery groups. The church frequently hosts block parties, food distribution, and a sports camp in Mund Park, which is next to their new building. There will be two tour projects in partnership with EBGC. One will be construction work for the new building and the other will be assisting at an outreach event at the park. The goal is to serve a thousand hot dog meals, give out hygiene kits, and coordinate children’s activities.
- Pastor Steven Fleck founded New Southwest Baptist Church (NSBC) in 1999 and they were able to inherit a vacant church building, built in 1892, that was on its way to demolition. After a few years of renovations, NSBC started meeting at the building regularly and they remain there to this day. Over the past decades, the church has led a long faithful history of ministry to kids at nearby Traci Atkins Park (TAP) and residents struggling with substance abuse. Fleck began attending Mount Clare Community Council meetings six years ago. He learned about the community’s various needs and then mobilized his congregation to meet those needs. Since then, NSBC has regularly partnered with the community council to do service projects or host events, from Christmas events to movie nights. On April 30, the church is looking forward to partnering with the Mount Clare Community Council to clean up TAP. During this year’s tour, a team of volunteers will paint the exterior of NSBC while another group will clean up trash and host a cookout at the park.
These churches and others throughout Baltimore, including Christian Liberty Church, Freedom Church, Redemption City Church, and Transformation Center (TC), are hard at work organizing service projects for the tour. As they serve alongside these churches and ministries, volunteers will bring a jolt of energy to churches committed to doing God’s work in Baltimore and they’ll also take back ideas and initiatives that can impact their home churches and communities.
I feel incredibly privileged to help bring followers of Jesus together and see the church practically live out the gospel in my role as the Serve Baltimore project manager. If you are interested in getting your church involved, visit the tour website today and sign up on the early access form. Official registration will open on March 14. In addition to having the opportunity to live on mission for a weekend, all registered volunteers will receive a free tour T-shirt. T.C. Prints, a ministry of TC, will print the shirts. The printing company is committed to hiring employees who face barriers of previous incarceration.
Cover ph0to: EC serves at Yorkwood (photo submitted).