Our BCM/D Family July 3

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Lots of summer activities are happening all around Maryland/Delaware churches. Below are just a few: a church partnership linking a West Virginia church with a downtown city church, a Native American choir ministering at an Eastern Shore church, at least 24 kids responding to the gospel at a VBS, and an event in Derwood next week that includes a visit from the Newsboys! Send your information to [email protected].

Covenant Church Shepherdstown — Missions: Cultural Engagement
This week, four teens and two adults from Covenant Church, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, are spending time doing hands-on ministry and learning about ministry in an urban context by working with ONE HOPE, a ministry of The Garden Church, Baltimore.

(L-R)Molly, Aiden, Abby, Shane, Ellen McComb, and Shane Cromwell (Photo courtesy of Covenant Church)

Joel Rainey, the senior pastor of Covenant Church (in a 2022 BaptistLIFE article), said he emphasizes global awareness and wants Covenant Church members to experience and be aware of the culture and environments outside of their own. “It’s really easy to isolate,” he emphasized. Referring to Joel Kurz, the pastor of The Garden Church, Rainey said, “I’ve known Joel since 2008, and I love what he does. I was in the early conversations that gave rise to ONE HOPE.”
ONE HOPE, a ministry of The Garden Church, is church-based and church-centered with the goal of making disciples through building healthy churches in America’s poorest neighborhoods.

Over the past few years, Covenant members, mostly teens with some adults, have been spending summers at The Garden Church helping with Bible clubs and building relationships. Rainey said, “They spend the other half of the time learning about urban poverty from some brilliant minds such as Stephanie Greer.” Greer is a life coach for ONE HOPE.

This year, four teens, Abby, 16; Aiden, 15; Evan, 15; and Molly, 17, are working with ONE HOPE’s day camp called “Young Leaders Society.” Mission Team Leader Ellen McComb, the youth coordinator/director of ministry outreach, said, “Our teens are sitting with groups of kids (second – sixth grades) assigned to help them do activities, talk with them, try to listen and form relationships and love on them the best we can.” McComb said, “We love coming up and working with them. It opens our kids‘ perspective from where they live and what they’re used to. Even though it’s just two hours away, it is a slightly different culture.

Aiden shares with the group at his table. (Photo courtesy of Covenant Church)

To further immerse themselves in the culture, the team is staying close to the church. McComb said, “I learned the first year here that people in Baltimore are very tied to neighborhoods. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat to stay in the neighborhood?’ So we rented a townhouse two and a half blocks from the church.”

McComb said the youth are prepped well. “Stephanie meets with them, and Abby (who has been on previous trips to The Garden Church) shared a lot about her experience,” McComb said that the groups knew they were there to serve and love, and they were encouraged to be flexible. “We go in with a plan, but know it will probably change.”

Asked about their experiences, Evan said, “The highlight for me has been building relationships with the kids and sharing the gospel with them.” He shared about using games like “sharks and minnows,” — with the minnows (people seeking Jesus) going through sharks (those who would try to distract them or lure them away) to get to Jesus. Aiden enjoys getting to know the kids and seeing them respond. “I was surprised to see how many walls they have up and how love is changing them. We’re seeing a lot fewer walls.”

“A highlight from this week was when the girls wanted to play with my hair and style it. They loved to take turns braiding it, and it was so sweet. I was surprised how quickly the kids warmed up to me. They’ve been so affectionate and open towards me after just a few days and it’s the best feeling ever. I was so excited to

Shane Cromwell, a Covenant Church deacon, shares with children at the summer camp. (Photo courtesy of Covenant Church)

come and hopefully make an impact on these kids and love them, and I’m very happy that I’ve been able to do that so far.”

Abby was also surprised at the children’s response to the team’s care. “It’s amazing to see how they react to the feeling of being loved. She said Some may not get that in other areas of their lives. She was pleased to see the children spiritually hungry. My group and I were discussing Jesus and what He did to save us, and the kids were asking me and my partner (Jaden from The Garden Church) questions about the Trinity and why He was the Messiah. They were genuinely interested.”

McComb has also been impacted. “I have developed a relationship with Stephanie. We talk about other things we’re doing in our churches where we are, how things are similar and different — and we learn from each other.

The church will send a team of youth, including middle schoolers, to Ocean City Baptist Church later this summer to experience another unique culture. They’ll help with an international student dinner, Vacation Bible School, surf camp, and other ministries.

Abby and Molly help campers make tie-dye shirts. (Photo courtesy of Covenant Church)

Native American Choir at Fenwick Island Baptist Church
Last month, Fenwick Island Baptist Church welcomed a choir from Native American LINK (Living in Neighborhood Kindness), which the church has supported for over 25 years. Based in Oklahoma, LINK is a Native American ministry designed to help women strengthen their faith and homes while preserving their culture. The choir comprises women of native American descent or affiliated with Indian Baptist congregations throughout Oklahoma. Nineteen tribes are represented in the choir and sing in the native languages of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muskogee Creek, and Seminole tribes.

Beth Fillis, the wife of FIBC Pastor Mike Fillis, said the women gave a brief presentation about each song they sang, and some shared their testimonies.

“They were all praising our God and savior. It was really nice. It was all acapella. One woman played the flute,” Beth said. She also commented on the Native American dress. “They are all made traditionally with squares of fabric that are torn, not cut.”

The Native Praise Choir is the most visible ministry of LINK. (Photo courtesy of FIBC)

Beth said it had been a decade since the group visited FIBC, and they were pleased to have them again. She laughed, sharing that one of the women mentioned that she remembered the church from 1994 — especially all of the homemade desserts the church had for them. The church didn’t disappoint the women in the food department, serving turkeys, dressing, and the trimmings and three tables of homemade desserts.

The native praise choir is the most visible arm of the LINK ministry. They travel throughout the United States and Canada, and each choir member pays her own way.

Native American LINK, Inc. has had many ministries through the years, including helping pregnancy centers, Indian children’s homes, and rescue missions, partnering with the Fellowship of Native American Christians to provide school supplies, assisting with VBS, providing devotional books to a women’s correctional facility, and more.

LINK has strong Maryland roots. Founder Willene Pierce was a former Camp Wo-Me-To — director and served as the executive director/treasurer of the Maryland/Delaware Women on Mission from 1982 to 1995. She became a Christian as a child while visiting a Native American church and later returned to serve as a teen. Later in life, she started the LINK ministry and served as executive director/treasurer from 1998 to 2013, and continued as a consultant until she died in 2014. In 2023, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Baptist Hall of Fame.

Beth remembers Pierce. “She was a go-getter and passionate about that (LINK) ministry, and she loved the choir.”

The Native American Choir also shared at the Southern Baptist Convention last month in Indianapolis.

24 Children Respond to Gospel during VBS at Pleasant View Baptist Church
Pleasant View Baptist Church, Port Deposit, had 24 children respond to a gospel presentation last week during their Vacation Bible School. Lora Moody, who led the VBS with her daughter, Larissa Moody, and Theresa Wright, said, “We tell our leaders ahead of time, be ready at all times to talk to the kids, but one night we always have a salvation message. This year, it was given by Youth Pastor Matthew Gullion.

Larissa wrote the curriculum called “Game Changers: Following Jesus Changes the Game.” Using a board game theme, the lessons were: Scrabble: He knows you by name; ”Sorry!“— sin and salvation; Hungry Hungry Hippo — seeking first the kingdom of God and hungering for righteousness; Chess — we are part of the body of Christ; and Connect 4 — connecting to Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit

Redland Baptist Church, Derwood, will have a summer block party from 3 – 8 p.m. on July 12, which they’re dubbing “Redfest,”  The WGTS radio station will be broadcasting live for their “Ice Cream Tour,” so yes, they’ll have free ice cream, sponsored by FoodPro of Frederick. They’ll also have activity booths, games, prizes, a moon bounce, a water slide, and food trucks.

Redland Baptist Church will host “RedFest” on July 12.

Plus, they’ll have quite the musical offerings, including the Newsboys, who will play a brief acoustical set between 3 and 4 p.m. At 7 p.m., the church’s choir and orchestra will share.