Tennessee Church Spreads Joy Along Front Lines of COVID-19 Battle
By Carl Stagner
Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. Law enforcement, fire fighters, and paramedics. Mail carriers, truck drivers, and grocery store clerks. The list could go on of individuals who simply have not had the option of sheltering in place during the COVID-19 outbreak. They put their health, even their lives, on the line for the rest of us. The Church of God in McMinnville, Tennessee, realized the debt of gratitude owed to these troops on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus. Motivated by the love of Christ, and inspired by a recent example set by Church of God Ministries employees, Dayspring Community Church purchased a thousand dollars’ worth of gift cards for distribution to their hometown heroes.
Twenty-dollar gift cards to Pizza Hut and McDonald’s may not seem like much, but it doesn’t take big expressions of kindness to make a big difference. For the emotionally and physically exhausted nursing home employees, paramedics, sheriff’s office and jail workers, post office personnel, and emergency room staff, the gesture alone would make a powerful statement. So, when volunteers from the Dayspring congregation made the rounds with gift cards for these workers persisting through the COVID-19 crisis, the response was overwhelming.
“Our motivation is our mission as a church, and that is to make Jesus the subject,” the church’s pastor explains. “All the places we gave the gift cards and a note of appreciation, are on the front lines each day, serving our community and, in many ways, putting themselves and their families at risk. Unfortunately, many of them end up on the receiving end of people’s frustration and anger in the midst of this crisis. We felt like we needed to be a ray of sunshine, and be Jesus to them by giving them a small token of our appreciation.”
The church’s pastor is Darryl Allen. In September 2018, the advancement and church partnership director for Church of God Ministries expanded his ministry when he accepted the role in McMinnville. Initially, Darryl had been serving the church as its counseling pastor while they were searching for a new senior pastor. Pastor Rex Boles had retired after forty-seven years there, and had a longtime friendship with Darryl. After an early-morning moment with God proved providential, Darryl’s acceptance of the senior pastor position came after the church acknowledged Darryl’s ongoing full-time, offsite role with the offices in Anderson, Indiana. As such, Darryl now fills the pulpit and provides overall leadership of the flock at Dayspring Community. Rex Boles has come back to handle pastoral care and visitation.
Darryl’s ongoing role in the local church, representing a combined thirty-seven years in ministry, means he’s not just talking to Church of God pastors about their mission and ministry; he’s living it. As are several other Church of God Ministries staff, like Handel Smith, who shepherds Celebration Church at Arrow Heights in Anderson, Indiana; and Bob Moss, who leads Hope Community Church in Niles, Michigan.
“I had been thinking and praying about how Dayspring could reach out and do something to connect with, and bless, our community during the COVID-19 crisis,” Darryl explains. “I must confess, I got the idea from Church of God Ministries, as we purchased $800 of gift cards for the local jail in Anderson. That was the catalyst for what we did.”
Help churches like these respond to urgent needs in their communities as a result of COVID-19:
Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.