Enquirer Herald

Church volunteers reach out to ‘least of these'

Some 100 volunteers from York’s First Baptist Church fanned out across the community Saturday to serve “the least of these” – part of a national movement to get church congregants involved in community service.

On Jefferson Street, Richard Craven was among a small group of volunteers busy painting a home where others had done yardwork and repairs. Another house also was part of the project.

Other volunteers gave out fresh batteries for smoke detectors and Bibles to those who wanted them in the California Street and Pecan Circle area, cleaned up the grounds at York Place and chaperoned some York Place children to a Winthrop University baseball game.

Church member Ryan Morrison said the projects are part of Operation Inasmuch, a national movement that trains and equips churches to hold a single day of service each year.

According to Operation Inasmuch, the goal of the day is to get at least 50 percent of those who attend Sunday church services to volunteer to serve their community.

The idea for the project stems from the biblical verse in Matthew 24:45: “Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.”

The project, Morrison said, is intended “to get every church member involved in a one-day local community missions day.” He said the York church’s goal was to have 100 people signed up – and about 112 committed to help.

A church in Fayetteville, N.C., held the first Inasmuch Day in 1995. Since then, more than 1,500 churches in 21 states have conducted a one-day service event, with the aim of creating a passion for community service.

“Our church is really searching to be more externally focused, as opposed to internally focused,” said senior pastor the Rev. Trey Doyle.

“We want to be more focused with the community around us.”

Morrison said a church committee collected ideas for the service projects and whittled them down. He said other projects included making lap robes for nursing home residents and doing some work behind the York Senior Center.

Doyle said one group of volunteers collected canned goods and some donations from shoppers at several local grocery stores. He said Monday that the volunteers took about 1,000 pounds of food to each of two local charitable agencies, Tender Hearts Ministries and People Attempting to Help, along with some other donations.

“We’re really pleased with the generosity from the community members, certainly overall,” Doyle said. “We were grateful to be a part of that.”