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Beyond the four walls

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Exploring churches' roles in the community.

By Leslie Moore

 

One hill, one home, one heart at a time. That's the internal campaign pastor Dave Walters said is moving through Lowell Avenue Baptist Church and its surrounding community.

About a year ago, the church mapped out nearby streets and assigned members of the congregation a street to walk through and pray for the people who live there.

They then started going door-to-door inviting residents to various outreach events, such as a free yard sale where church members brought in TVs, couches and other items for them to pick from, as well as a gas buy down where drivers could fill their gas tanks at a discounted rate at the church's expense. Recently, the church hosted a Thanksgiving meal for members of the community.

"We use that as an opportunity just to show our neighbors we're here, that we love them and want to share the gospel with them," Walters said.

According to Walters, the role of a church is to serve as a lighthouse for the community by showing them the light. He said the congregation hopes to fulfill this role by meeting the needs of area residents, many of whom are low-income, and help lead them to Jesus Christ.

Most of the residents are very welcoming when members visit, Walters said, and even those who already attend church elsewhere thank them for what they do.

"Since we've started doing this, we've had a good response," Walters said. "We have seen several of the folks from the community ultimately unite with the church. We've seen people come to a personal relationship with Christ as a result of it."

Walters said he considers Campbellsville a strongly Christian community with an advantage of having several Christian teachers in the public school system.

While he acknowledges that there are continual strides being made to bring industry to the area, Walters said he believes Campbellsville is very much in need of more vocational opportunities for residents. Walters, who is also vice president for admissions and student services at Campbellsville University, said he would love to see children raised in the community have more opportunities to stay here.

"If we're going to encourage young people to go get a degree, there needs to be a place for them to apply that degree," Walters said.

He also hopes efforts to revitalize the downtown area will continue for the enjoyment of local residents as well as help make the community more attractive to potential employers.

The church is also planning to help build Habitat for Humanity home just down the street and Walters said the congregation is continuously asking themselves how they can better meet the needs of the community.

"We want our neighborhood, whether they're part of our church or not, to feel like we're there for them," Walters said.

This story is the third in a series exploring the role of churches in the community. To recommend a pastor for the series, contact Leslie Moore at 465-8111 or lmoore@cknj.com.