04/20/08 — Churches travel county helping residents

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Churches travel county helping residents

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 20, 2008 1:26 PM

Volunteers from at least 10 churches were working all over Wayne County Saturday in an effort called Operation InAsMuch.

The project is based on the Scripture from the book of Matthew: "... inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me," and it empowers congregations to create a culture of compassion ministry, said Dr. Glenn Phillips Jr., the coordinator for Wayne County's part in Operation InAsMuch. Phillips is the pastor at First Baptist Church of Goldsboro.

"The whole purpose is to tell the community we care," he said.

The annual work day, started in 1995 by Snyder Memorial Baptist Church in Fayetteville, has gained in popularity so much that it has become an interdenominational effort with even a church in England participating. At least 900 churches in this state alone were expected to participate Saturday.

Phillips' church participated in the project about five years ago, and last year, he was recruited to do it again by a friend, Bill Stillerman, chief executive officer of the Baptist Retirement Homes of North Carolina.

When he made the commitment, Stillerman sent his church a grant of $2,500 to help pay for the supplies.

"With the grant, we were able to do more than we could otherwise," Phillips said. "(About $2,500) is quite a commitment for a community this size, and we appreciate it."

He said Stillerman was expected to come this weekend with a 10-member crew from his company to help work on roof repairs for a elderly homeowner in Goldsboro. Another crew was to build a handicap ramp for a homeowner in Mount Olive.

The volunteers knew they weren't going to be able to get all the repair work finished in one day, he said. So they got a head start on Friday.

The repairs were just one of 11 projects done by First Baptist and First African Baptist Church. Youngsters cooked chili for the 150 or so volunteers working on the various projects and more to deliver to the Community Soup Kitchen. Other volunteers provided activities at the church to give respite care for parents who have autistic children. Another group provided games and bottled water for children playing in Herman Park.

Others took quarters to a Laundromat and gave them away to those who came to wash clothes. Other projects included landscaping work done at School Street School and the Women's Shelter. Hygiene kits were also provided for the families at the shelter and for the Potter's Wheel Ministries near Mount Olive. Another group provided a fundraiser dinner to help raise money for the church's Hispanic ministry's building fund. And others provided child care for the volunteers.

Several other churches did projects of their own. Some who had committed beforehand were Adamsville Baptist, Madison Avenue Baptist, Mount Carmel Baptist, Eureka Baptist and Love Memorial Baptist. Phillips said he also heard from first Presbyterian and Good Shepherd Lutheran, and several others were expected to participate.

The day-long project Saturday started at 8 a.m. in First Baptist Church, and the groups split up to go out and work until 4 p.m.

And while all the others worked, a group of about 10 volunteers walked through Goldsboro on a Prayer Walk. Phillips said this group prayed for the volunteers and the people they were helping.

But that wasn't all.

"In a Prayer Walk, they walk through the community and pray as they walk -- not with their eyes closed," he said. "It's been around about 10 years now. The idea is if you go to a place, ideas of things to pray for will come to you. If you see a person along your way, you pray for that person."