Calvary Baptist joins other denominations to serve Tuscaloosacomment (0)
June 27, 2002
By Linda Holloway
For 200 teens in Tuscaloosa, those lazy days of summer took a vacation during the Reach Out Tuscaloosa program. The energetic group of middle and high school students from around the county participated in a bold missions effort that included manual labor without pay.
Doug Fulton, youth minister at Calvary Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, is the youth director for Reach Out Tuscaloosa. Fulton is also the co-ordinator of the Tuscaloosa Youth Ministers Network. “Over the last five years a network of youth ministers in Tuscaloosa has met once a month to pray and find solutions for reaching the community. We took inspiration from two successful models: the Southern Baptist World Changers and Share Fest in Arkansas,” Fulton said.
The first task of the interdenominational youth ministers was to survey the secular community. The group was surprised to find that most of the lost people believed that the church did not do much for the community, and if the church disappeared, it would have a minimal effect on the people. With the survey information, the youth ministers realized that they needed to do something significant to send a message that Christians care and are ready to help.
The mission was successful as 74 churches of different denominations and racial backgrounds united to work on different levels of the project during the first week of June. Teens and more than 1,000 adults donated a combined 10,000 hours of community service. There was significant work on 14 public schools, and 12 homes were renovated for the disadvantaged. The group raised money for the Salvation Army, and food pantries in the area were replenished. The project was made possible by $80,000 in cash, supplies and goods that were donated by churches and businesses.
“Christian contractors volunteered to supervise,” Fulton said. “The Tuscaloosa Chamber of Commerce and the Police Athletic League helped team our program with the business community. Our group partnered with the Tuscaloosa City and County Schools, and Community Services of West Alabama alerted us to the needs of the community. The students were divided into work teams and trained on-site with individuals of various carpentry skills. There were also professionals such as physicians, stockbrokers and attorneys who had worked their way through college by roofing houses and other odd jobs who took the time to help. One lady was so emotionally moved when she examined her new roof that she began weeping.”
Cal Chambers is a construction contractor and supervised the construction projects. “My job was to see that the construction sites had materials that were needed,” he said. “Those teens could have been swimming or watching television, but they were willing to work in the heat to help the community. They were dedicated and shared their faith with the world. It makes me feel good to know that there are good Christian young people in our area.”
Hillcrest High School doubled as a residence hall for the youth and adult supervisors during the week of missions work. The Salvation Army and the Tuscaloosa Baptist Men Disaster Relief Unit provided meals. Each night students participated in a worship service to thank God, and there were five saved in those services.
Two separate backyard Bible classes for inner-city children were included in the outreach. One was located at the Police Athletic Gym at McKenzie Courts and Alberta Baptist Church.
Katie Moore of Calvary was one of 40 teens who volunteered to teach the more than 100 children. “The experience was such a blessing to me, and there were at least 20 people who were saved at Kids’ Club,” Moore said. “Judy Coogan, the coordinator, taught me that [missions work] isn’t hard; it is something I can do down the street. The worship each night was incredible. Knowing that different churches, races and ages were all worshiping the same God together was a great feeling. I know this is how Christ meant for the church to be unified working for His glory.”
Moore said the event also allowed teenagers to build relationships. “I had the chance to meet growing Christians who are experiencing the same things that I am. It was a great comfort to know they are here in Tuscaloosa, and I can maintain relationships with them,” she said.
Fulton believes that a bridge has been built from the area churches to the community. “By different denominations working together, we have been able to accomplish projects that we could not have done separately. Reach Out Tuscaloosa has shown the community that Jesus is real, and we care about their needs.”