Across the Nation: Toys for Tots, a coat drive and more quick takes
Across the Nation is our monthly rundown of news briefs, links and quotes from Churches of Christ across the U.S. Got an idea for this column? Email Audrey Jackson at [email protected]
Featured image (above): The North Bronx Church of Christ leaders cut the ribbon outside the church’s new $1.5 million building in New York. Christians gathered on a recent Sunday for the dedication.
Shadrack Oppong — a student preacher at the Memphis School of Preaching, which is associated with Churches if Christ — gave a bilingual sermon dedicating the space to the Lord’s work. Reading a passage from Isaiah 2, he paused and repeated, “The house of God has been established.”
The decision to buy a building came from a place of conviction.
The church, which was founded in 2015, had always been a mobile congregation — comprised of mostly Ghanaian immigrants — who met in rented spaces on Sunday mornings.
Spaces also used, according to minister Paul Oppong, by secular groups for partying on the week nights.
“Indeed, the reason for the purchase was because our congregation felt it was improper to rent temporal spaces on Sunday mornings that were used in ways very disrespectful to the Lord,” said Oppong.
The 120-person congregation had partnered with the Solomon Foundation, a nonprofit that helps churches in the United States and Canada with loans and investments, to purchase their own permanent worship space. The North Bronx church paid the initial down payment of $200,000 to the former owners, a Bronx branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“This church is very much into impacting the lives of the people through benevolent activities and the preaching of the Gospel.”
And the congregation is already putting the space to good use for their community. Boxes of relief items — clothing, food and water — are stacked in the church’s auditorium, waiting to be delivered to the victims of the recent Bronx apartment building fire, which killed 19 people and injured 44 others.
“This church is very much into impacting the lives of the people through benevolent activities and the preaching of the Gospel,” Oppong said.
ROCHESTER — Members of the Rochester Church of Christ are caring for and helping expectant mothers — from more than 8,500 miles away.
Partnering with the Malawi Project, a nonprofit associated with Churches of Christ, the Rochester congregation is packing bags full of necessities for women in Africa who have limited access to medical supplies and postnatal care. The care packages also include a pamphlet about faith.
The effort — led by Glen, Mickey and Frank Davidson, members of the Rochester church — has resulted in major assistance to hundreds of Malawi families.
COLUMBIA — The North View Church of Christ recently served as the Maury County distribution center for a “Toys for Tots” drive.
Working with David Bailey, the fundraiser’s coordinator, church members helped with three phases of the drive: gathering toys in bags in neighboring Giles County, delivering and arranging the 260 toy bags at the North View church auditorium and distributing them to the Columbia community.
The congregation also added its own addition to the drive: a Bible for each family. On the inside cover of the Bible, church members placed labels with the North View church’s service times and contact info.
JACKSON — Students at Jackson Christian School, which is associated with Churches of Christ, collected more than 600 coats in a recent coat drive to distribute to Jackson-Madison County schools for winter.
The number was double the estimate of what the initiative collected when it was started three years ago by Ava Jerman, who was then in sixth grade.
“I noticed several students riding the school bus were not wearing coats, so I asked our Bible teacher to help me start a coat drive,” Jerman, who is now a high school freshman, said in a press release.
This school year she logged 11 hours of community service volunteering with the coat drive.
All ages participate in the fundraiser — from elementary to high school — and then Jerman sorts the inventory into bags based on sizes for distribution among the community. This year’s collection took two trips to donate all the coats gathered by the Jackson Christian student body.
HIRED: Skyler Sexton as the new youth minister for the Chapel Hill Church of Christ in Chapel Hill, Tenn. Josh Ketchum as pulpit minister for the Beacon Church of Christ in Parsons, Tenn. He will continue teaching Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. Hunter Wiederstein as the youth and family minister for the Alameda Church of Christ in Norman, Okla. Joshua DuBoise as the new minister for the Church of Christ at the Vineyard congregation in Phoenix.
APPOINTED: Matt Vega as the dean of the College of Business at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn. Ken Jones as chancellor and Brandon Tatum as executive vice president at Oklahoma Christian University. Joe McCall, Narlon Clemons and Jason Nicholas as elders for the Cold Springs Church of Christ in Lancaster, Texas.
Quote of the month
“You start with your neighbor,” Penny Wade Smith said about helping with Tornado relief efforts in Mayfield, Ky. “You look to the closest person to you, and you help that person.”
Read the story about how she and her family helped their neighbors here.