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Rural church serves up large ministry

 

Joe Westbury/Index

Atlanta church planter Winston Taylor, with back to camera, talks to Valdosta Baptist Association Associational Missionary Mike Broadwater at the Community Day national kickoff banquet. Also visiting at the conclusion of the meeting was Community Day founder and Redland Baptist Church pastor Jay Watkins, center, and GBC Assistant Executive Director Bobby Boswell.

VALDOSTA — Redland Baptist Church’s Valdosta address is more ZIP Code than location. Situated a dozen miles outside of town, the 550-member church may not be on any major thoroughfare but it’s making an international impact for the Kingdom.

Community Day expands to seven cities in 2014

Nearly 900 residents from Greater Valdosta – paying $10 each for a subsidized meal – packed a banquet room of Rainwater Conference Center Jan. 28 to learn how they can be involved in the next level of Community Day. The large scale modified block party, launched by the church in 2009, is being embraced by the North American Mission Board as a model of a congregation being on mission.

NAMB is partnering with the church to take the concept throughout North America as a model for other churches to follow. The launch was the focus of the banquet, which detailed how the block party on steroids will be introduced in California, Wyoming, Illinois, Tennessee, Georgia, and Canada in 2014.

Messengers to the annual SBC meeting this June in Baltimore will also get an opportunity to observe – but more importantly volunteer – at a Community Day that will occur on Crossover Saturday, June 7.

The idea grew out of First Woodstock’s Love Loud emphasis, which was also embraced by NAMB and is now part of the agency’s evangelism effort. Community Day will now be added to the agency’s evangelism thrust in a similar promotional emphasis.

Georgia Baptists provided an eighteen-wheel trailer to transport Community Day supplies to seven locations nationwide and into Canada in 2014.

The Georgia Baptist Convention purchased an 18-wheel trailer to transport donated goods and other supplies across the two nations this year. The large white trailer is emblazoned with the GBC, Community Day, and Valdosta Association logos.

Watkins, who has served as pastor of Redland Church for the past 14 years, said the concept was simple – identify needs in a community, then tailor the event to meet those needs while sharing the gospel.

Community Day originally began as an international ministry in Mexico and Central America but expanded domestically to Valdosta in 2009 with 5,000 attending the first event. In 2012 about 1,000 volunteers served at an event attended by an estimated 25,000 guests.

Valdosta Baptist Association has coordinated much of the ministry, working with Redland and dozens of churches throughout the area to impact residents with the Gospel.

That event provided more than 45 medical professionals who donated their time to give their services for free medicine, eye exams and glasses, health exams, and hearing checks.

Free haircuts, Bibles, shoes, appliances, a free yard “sale,” and a virtual grocery store stocked with free food attracted thousands who heard the Gospel message.

For more information on how a church can host its own Community Day, or volunteer for an upcoming event, visit www.communityday.us.