Pennsylvania Church Comes Alongside Medical Community in Tough Season
By Carl Stagner
“Thank you for this kind gesture. It feels like a hug.” The medical worker’s comment of sincere appreciation on social media was one of many examples of how the local medical community felt following the recent efforts of New Beginnings Church of God in Meadville, Pennsylvania. With social distancing and isolation continuing to keep many apart, the feeling of a hug is precisely what the doctors, nurses, and staff at Meadville Medical Center were needing. Prompted by the senior pastor’s conviction during his own hospital stay last fall, the congregation recently implemented a creative and meaningful way to come alongside their local heroes during an incredibly tough season.
Several months ago, Pastor Cliff Forbes found himself in the hospital with COVID. While it certainly wasn’t a pleasant experience, it was an experience made better by the medical staff attending to him. It was also an experience that would inspire reciprocal kindness in the months to come. While women and men donning scrubs might not look like the heroes of the comic books and the big screen, Cliff immediately recognized the doctors, nurses, and staff at Meadville Medical Center as superheroes of the highest class. Curtis Clark, executive pastor at New Beginnings, recounts the story.
“Cliff had seen how they were having a tough time,” Curtis explains. “So, he came up with the idea to reach out to the nursing supervisor and see how we could come alongside them as a church to encourage the doctors, nurses, and staff in a meaningful way.”
To kick off the new year in tangible expression of the love of Jesus, New Beginnings Church of God distributed gift cards to all of the approximately 1,500 employees of Meadville Medical Center. The church’s Facebook post celebrating the landmark achievement remarked, “We’re so excited but, at the same time…WOW…our church family really stepped up to make this happen. God is good!”
Yet it wasn’t the gift cards that really touched the heart of the nursing supervisor, but the commitment to prayer. “She was in tears when we brought the gift cards,” Curtis explains, “but she was more excited about the prayer vigil than the gift cards. After all, she was dealing with the strain of ten to twelve staff coming in every day, struggling with the decision of whether or not to continue.” That’s the kind of difficult environment our heroes in scrubs are facing daily. And, that’s why New Beginnings Church of God hosted a 24-hour prayer vigil in January, complete with a prayer guide for participants to petition the Lord for mercies in several specific areas of need. “The CEO also met with our senior pastor and was so grateful,” Curtis continues.
Other partnerships were also mentioned, which could yield future opportunities to bless the local medical community. This should come as no surprise, given the community-oriented identity New Beginnings Church of God is known for.
As recent surges of the latest COVID variant result in continued loss of life, complicate schedules for schools, and prove fodder for political argument, one sector of society will not be overlooked by New Beginnings Church of God. The challenges remain brutal for the heroes of Meadville Medical Center, but thanks to the essential compassion of a local church, they know they have a friend in the community they can count on.
Learn more about the ways the Church of God is persevering through the pandemic at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.