Chesapeake Conference churches added 545 new members in 2022 through baptism or profession of faith.
Members from the Bell Branch church passed out more than 60 sleeping bags on Jan. 9.
When representatives from the DowntownDC Weekend Homeless Services Program in Washington called the Bell Branch (Gambrills, Md.) church to ask if they were still planning on serving food and distributing sleeping bags despite forecasts of freezing temperatures, the church didn’t hesitate to answer.
“I told them, ‘Of course, we’re coming!’” says Isaac Thomas, Bell Branch church head elder. “How could we not go because we were too cold when the people we’re serving are living on the street?”
After the church began volunteering monthly last fall to serve those experiencing homelessness, they learned from talking to the men and women they met that sleeping bags were among their most needed items. The church immediately began raising funds and purchasing winter sleeping bags throughout December.
On Sunday, Jan. 9, members arrived at the church early in the morning to prepare meals and pack up the sleeping bags and winter clothing collected over the previous few weeks. A team of members traveled to the DowntownDC location in McPherson Square in Washington and handed out more than 60 sleeping bags to men and women in need.
“It opened my eyes to things we take for granted,” Thomas says. “When we were done, I got in the car and said to my wife, ‘My hands are cold.’ I immediately turned on the car heater and then I stopped and realized that they have no car or heater! The sleeping bags we gave them were the only source of warmth they had. It really did open my eyes to their need…My only regret is that we didn’t have more.”
The church continues to raise money and gather more sleeping bags, food, and other essential items for their future visits.
“Each month, there’s excitement about getting more sleeping bags, getting the food, preparing the food, and making the delivery,” says Geoff Crowley, Bell Branch church pastor. “This ministry gives us the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus with no eye toward strategic gain. It allows us to do good simply because it is good.”