Many local churches develop outreach projects as a way to spread love and the word of salvation to others. Bearskin Missionary Baptist Church has approached the mission effort recently through reaching out to young people. On Aug. 18, the church was filled as hundreds of Sampson County students, kindergarten to college, who came to its 7th Annual Back to School Celebration.
The Rev. Mark Powell, pastor of the church, expressed that this was an effort to expand the church’s outreach into the community and serve God more in a different manner.
And help young people, providing them needed materials to make the new school year better.
“We set out to have a greater impact … so the people may in some small measure experience the love of God on a personal level. This year was no different. God made his presence felt in a major way,” expressed Powell.
Depending on their grade level, students received items ranging from back packs to calculators. The celebration was so large that on Monday, Aug. 20, another 92 local students also received supplies.
This year’s event was given a greater boost by the partnership between Bearskin and Mingle Hill Disciples of Christ Church. The members of Mingle Hill, under the leadership of elder Eddie Parker, chose to join the Bearskin Missionary Baptist Church community’s efforts on the day of distribution instead of hosting their own event on the same day. Powell noted that “God has to be pleased when churches come together for his glory.”
Months of planning and coordination go into making the event a success. The celebration kicked off on Aug. 3-4 during North Carolina tax-free weekend. Volunteers from Bearskin hosted a pack-the-bus event in which they parked their church bus outside between the entrances of the Clinton Walmart and collected school supplies donated by residents of Sampson County. After sorting the donations, volunteers packaged them for distribution. The Bearskin Church family dedicates tireless hours to creating this multicultural, multi-denominational event that welcomes all economic groups.
Larry Sutton, a former Clinton City educator and Bearskin member, stated, “I am delighted that we can provide supplies to the community’s children.”
“This yearly event has grown from its conception to meet the expanding needs of the community and it will continue to do so. Without the support of Walmart, Piggly Wiggly, PNC Bank, Rupert’s Furniture & Appliance LLC, and other area businesses, the success of this program would be nearly impossible,” shared member Markelle Powell.
Carolyn Williams-Monk, one of the celebration coordinators, added, “We are so grateful that we have the continued support of our families, friends and the community. It is a lot of hard work but I know that this is what God would have us to do. As Christians, we are here to ‘serve’ and this event provides us with the opportunity to serve others in our community and surrounding communities,” cited Williams-Monk.
The theme of this year’s celebration was “The Lord is My Shepherd.” On the day of the event, the church held a number of small group sessions to reinforce their message. Children ages 4-11 convened in the church fellowship hall. They received a lesson that tied into the theme and did crafts. Then, they enjoyed lunch and treats, and received back packs filled with supplies for the upcoming school year. Students ages 12 and up sat for lectures and a PowerPoint presentation which incorporated the 23rd Psalm into practical life lessons including the dangers of drug, alcohol and tobacco usage.
As a church, Bearskin and its members had a goal to provide students with all the tools to be successful in school and life. I think we were able to accomplish this through this celebration,” added Powell.
The members of Bearskin are pleased to have provided supplies for more than 400 students this year, they said.
Williams-Monk remarked, “Although months of planning goes into making the event a success you never quite know how things will work out.”
The Rev. Elverso Powell added, “We are glad that this year’s celebration was so successful but now it’s time to start planning for next year.”
Williams-Monk shared that through the efforts of the two churches coming together in a unified effort, the message of God salvation and love was shared with all who took part in this year’s back to school celebration.
Markelle Powell contributed to this article.