Local Churches Unite to Support Oklahoma Schools, Families
By Adrian Powell
An emphasis of the ministry in the Church of God over the years has been the unity of the body of Christ. Anyone who has sung the lyrics of the movement’s song “The Church’s Jubilee” knows that line, “Our brotherhood are all the saints upon the world so vast; we reach our hands in fellowship to every blood-washed one, while love entwines about each heart in which God’s will is done.” Pastor Greg Hill, of Cornerstone Church in Clinton, Oklahoma, had a recent opportunity to put that theology into practice during the COVID-19 crisis.
With a population of nearly 10,000 and located in Custer County, Clinton has three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. The high school has had a very successful sports programs with sixteen state football championships, in addition to championships in many other sports.
The previous year a back-to-school giveaway program was instituted by First Baptist Church of Clinton in cooperation with other churches in Clinton. This year, with the closure of businesses due to COVID-19, there was an even greater need. Because of the need, six churches and the public school system participated in anticipation of a larger turnout, and the location was moved to the local Church of God.
Any student from any school was welcome to come get a backpack. Because this was a ministry opportunity for the participating churches, there were no lists or sign-up sheets for anyone to keep track of who got a backpack or to follow up. This was a non-threatening, service-oriented action, and truly a way for the church to give back to the community and show forth the love of Christ, with each church playing a different role in the giveaway. The unified churches also provided food and drinks for those who came for a backpack. “It’s not uncommon for the churches in the community to work together,” said worship and communications pastor, Merlanda Dorman.
Cornerstone stopped having services from March 22 through May 10, but were already livestreaming their services, so that continued through the shutdown. Currently, they have resumed meeting in person and have had two-thirds of the congregation return to Sunday morning services. The church has not yet begun Sunday evening services, but is having Wednesday evening services.
The participating churches all sent representatives to Cornerstone to help assemble the backpacks. The workers were from age four and up, and wound up putting together 700 backpacks in 45 minutes. Clinton has an active ministerial alliance, and this was another opportunity to gather as one to provide a real testament to the power of the unity of the Church.
Pastors Hill and Dorman agree that this operation was a “huge success. The people were very appreciative. We had [many] people, both churched and unchurched attend.”
Help churches like these respond to urgent needs in their communities as a result of COVID-19:
Adrian Powell is pastor of Faith Community Church of God in Grove City, Ohio. He has been published in the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Call and Post, Columbus Post, and Vital Christianity. He has also authored two books: The Jubilee Harvest and Resident Aliens: A Living Faith in a Hostile World, available from Amazon.com.
Feature (top) photo: Assembling backpacks for the giveaway.