Over the past few weeks a number reports have crossed my desk that combined paint an incredible picture. The picture depicts family of faith that is pouring themselves into face-to-face ministries and relationship with those in our community. I celebrate the thousands touched by the ministries related to First Baptist Church and the thousands of volunteer hours given to make these ministries possible. I believe our passionate engagement in our community and our world is one of the distinctives of First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City.
Let me give you a glance into the kind of ministries and their impact that I am talking about. Our centerpiece is Good Shepherd Ministries. It is a community ministry born out of and housed within First Baptist Church. It operated a medical clinic, dental clinic, food pantry, clothes closet, and referral ministry. In 2009 578 people were served through the medical clinic. The dental clinic saw 288 adults and 86 children. 3,523 were served in by the food pantry and another 3, 616 were served through the clothes closet. There were 5, 906 referenced to other ministries and agencies and we were able to help 294 people with short term needs through our Community Care Offering.
The KidsHope USA mentoring program is one of my favorite ministries. For the school year 2009-2010 we are mentoring 18 kids with 18 mentors, 11 trained substitute mentors, 26 prayer partners, and 1 director. I celebrate these 74 adult volunteers who are actively involved in Kids Hope.
About three years ago, FBC OKC language an ESL Language Center. In 2009 approximately 70 students were served by 30 volunteers in 2009. This volunteers can celebrate new jobs, people achieving their US citizenship, and an improved quality of life for the refugees and recent immigrant emerging from their investment of time and energy.
The church continues in active participation in the Mobile Meals program. This ministry primarily provides meals for senior adults whose life situation makes cooking and travel difficult. 23 volunteers served through this ministry venue in 2009, accumulating a combined 12 volunteer hours. The volunteers serving through this ministry provided meals to 33 people ever week, totalling 832 meals by years end. A second senior adult focused ministry is found in our partnership with AARP to provide tax help to those who need it. Last year 2 volunteer preparers and 6 "receptionists" served 103 people from our community. In addition, one of our church members hosts monthly birthday parties for the residents at Wesley Village, a secion 8 housing complex for senior adults in the shadows of our church. Sam involves others and creates a welcoming atmosphere for some at Wesly Village that would have no other birthday recognition otherwise.
First Baptist Church hosted a neighborhood party in the park as our 2009 ShareFest project. McKinley Park, in the Classen 10 Penn community served as the the location and approximately 250 volunteers and community members participated. We served over 300 hot dogs, chips popcorn and cookies. We had art projects for the children, face painting, and games for all. The Fire Department showed up and was able to show the children firsthand what it looks like inside and on top of a Fire Truck. Children from the group “Quires Formar Parte Del Grupo Folklorico” performed traditional Mexican dances. The best part of the celebration was that the neighborhood worked with us to make it such a success.
The 20Something department hosted a grand Easter Egg Hunt and cook out for refugee children living in the city. The young adult department could boast 30 to 40 volunteers and over 50 kids and their parents took part. The FBC Music Ministry and Children's Ministry tag teamed for another community focused children's experience. The 2009 Kids Off Broadway one week musical experience engaged 50 kids. We had daily 23 volunteers, plus active support from other members of the church staff and kitchen volunteers.
The kitchen volunteers also help facilitate a Study and Lunch Together Bible study experience on Thursday's in the Fellowship Hall at FBC OKC. On an average, over 100 a week come to participate. Over the course of the year, that 100 a week represents hundreds of different people and their unique life stories. Our own Chad Fetzer leads this study focuses on touching the downtown business community and others who find this their best forum for a fresh encounter with Scripture.
This list does not include the growth and development of the Chin congregation that is a vital part of our church family or the launch of a bilingual Hispanic ministry to reaching into this growing part of our community. It also does not include the several hundred kids and parents from Wilson Elementary School who claim our gym as home for their basketball league, or the youth and coaches from Harding Fine Arts girls volleyball and basketball teams who used our gym for practice, or the teachers' training event we hosted for two different schools, or the graduation event we hosted for OBU's downtown MBA program, or the baccalaureate service we hosted for Classen School of Advanced Studies, or..............One of the questions you have to ask when you evaluate the life and health of a congregation is "if the church were to close tomorrow, would anyone outside the walls notice?" I am glad we can respond with a resounding "YES!'
Next week I will take a look at global impact the church is having.
I celebrate the opportunity to serve among this great church family.
Grace and Peace, Tom