The following comes from Kevin Meadows, pastor of Grandin Court Baptist in Roanoke, Virginia. Grandin Court is a Dawnings Pilot Church and has been very active in our It’s Time mission grants. Thanks, Kevin and Congregation, for such a great story of intentional relationship building and ministry!
For several years, Grandin Court Baptist Church has been reaching out to its community through a ministry we call “Second Saturday’s.” For a few hours on the second Saturday of each month, church members participate in various hands-on mission opportunities with local organizations. One of our regular partners is Feeding America Southwest Virginia. Church members sort superficially damaged food products to ensure food is safe and consumable. This is a part of Feeding America’s processing and distribution process.
Because of this relationship, Robert Rogers, Volunteer Services Director, contacted the church about the possibility of housing visiting college students from the University of Michigan. The students would be coming to work for a week with Feeding America as a part of the alternative spring break program. These programs create opportunities for college students to engage in a service-oriented, integrative learning experience through a social impact project. Grandin Court’s Ministry Activity Center director, Patti Henkel, jumped at the opportunity to welcome the students into the church.
Plans were finalized, and the congregation eagerly waited hosting these students. A few days before their arrival, we learned that all fourteen University of Michigan students were Muslim. What some might consider a strange pairing, Grandin Court saw as a unique opportunity: Baptists and Muslims partnering together in service to others.
We made a few quick shifts, changes to menus due to Halal dietary guidelines and securing a quiet location for students to pray among others. And, we continued with plans to welcome their visitors. Henkel stated, “Not only were we ecstatic that we could host volunteers from Michigan here in Virginia, but also that we might get to know our Muslim friends. We simply opened our doors, and ultimately, we were the ones who were gifted.”
The students arrived during the Sunday School hour on March 3rd, unloaded their gear, and joined the congregation for the 11:00 o’clock worship service. The congregation welcomed them with open arms. Members have provided a church bus for transportation and a sight-seeing tour of the Roanoke Valley. The youth group has included the visiting students in various games and activities. Church members have been stopping by with food, and both communities have enjoyed getting to know each other on a first name basis.
When Wednesday evening’s regularly scheduled dinner and activities were canceled due to inclement weather, the ministerial staff saw this as a great opportunity to have dinner with the students and get to know them on a more personal level. Kevin Meadows, senior pastor at Grandin Court said, “What a Kingdom Moment it has been to host these young people. They have been great guests and we have been blessed by getting to know them.”