At Flint Hill Baptist Church in Rock Hill on Christmas Eve, there is always room at the inn.
The doors are flung wide open on this day because more than 2,000 years ago, so many doors were closed to a newborn baby and his parents.
“Come as you are” is the truth at the annual holiday program hosted by Flint Hill with 10 churches from Rock Hill’s hunger outreach committee, including Cornerstone United Methodist, Eastview Baptist, Epiphany Lutheran, First Presbyterian, Grace Lutheran, Second Baptist, St. Johns United Methodist, Westminster Presbyterian and Woodland United Methodist.
For the people at these churches, there is no rich and poor. There is no black and white. There is no us and them.
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“We welcome everyone, always,” said Ann McClurkin, Flint Hill Baptist’s diminutive general who leads this Christmas Eve collection and giveaway each year.
People came from the poor side of town and the wrong side of the tracks. People came by bicycle and on foot. More than 200 arrived at the church Tuesday, and there were songs and prayers and dancers and all were hugged and given gifts of toiletries, blankets, socks and shirts, and toys for kids.
Volunteers of all colors hugged them all.
Glenda Hall and her daughter and granddaughter brought neighbor children Gabby, 7, and Isabel, 8. The kids are getting bicycles as gifts from the Hall family and gifts from the churches at Flint Hill Tuesday.
The Halls are black. The children are white.
“It doesn’t matter one bit,” said Glenda Hall. “Christmas and love knows no color.”
On this special day, all these people from different churches held a fellowship together that again bypassed the divisions that are supposed to define people.
“Today, all of us together bring joy to others,” said the Rev. Willie Wade, a guest pastor who gave a prayer at the end of the service.
Then there was the food.
One group of volunteers took enough meals to feed men at The Haven homeless shelter for two days. Another group delivered dozens of meals to the elderly, the sick, the shut-ins.
Still more people cooked and filled plates and served turkey dinners piled so high the covers on the styrofoam containers barely could close.
“This is what Christmas is all about,” said Tom Love, a volunteer who helps organize the yearly event.
“Helping people. Giving.”