HERMITAGE — Hermitage Hills Baptist Church, located here with three regional satellite campuses, launched its first “Serving Nashville” area event on April 21 and continued it April 28, according to senior associate pastor Dwight Moody.
“Our goal with this event was for our people to get out of their comfort zones, to serve the way that Christ served and to begin the process of building relationships outside the church,” said Moody.
Almost 400 volunteers from young to old were sent on several different types of HHBC volunteer teams across the Metro Nashville Davidson County area and into Wilson County on two Saturday mornings. The teams worked in 21 assigned areas of service in downtown Nashville, Old Hickory, Donelson, Mount Juliet, Lebanon and other locations.
Teams served in areas by doing home and playground repairs; landscaping and clean up; water, food and Scripture distribution and other projects on April 21. Other teams handed out water and even ran in the annual St. Jude’s Country Music Marathon on April 28. The teams ranged from six to over 60 members.
“We have a month-long missions emphasis in November each year at the church,” added Moody. “After sending teams out from the church on international, national and across the country on projects, we decided last year that we had bypassed our city.
“Focusing on the Nashville area for 2012, during January – March we began to enlist our teams, organize the project sites and get on their books and train our teams.”
At the Kohl’s Trailhead entrance to the Stones River Green-way near the Jackson Downs shopping center, a five-member team of church volunteers stood April 21 under a small tent shivering in the cold and windy early morning rain to hand out bottled water to runners and to invite people to Hermitage Hills church.
Volunteers Faye and Eugene Wilmore spent their time trying to get to know the people, who were jumping on the Greenway to walk or run while others preferred to wave at the church members and forge on down the trail.
For those who slowed down long enough to talk, the Wil-mores were “showing our love to the community and giving them water.” They had already talked to about 30 people by 9:30 a.m.
Also on the team were volunteers Barbara and Mike Streeter, who visited with some runners already acquainted with the church. “We talked to people on the trail, who had brought their kids to HHBC Upward Basketball games and other outreach activities,” the Streeters said. “They were very appreciative of us being here.”
Up the Greenway at the Stone Hall Trailhead, the site of one of the historic homes of the Donelson family, a 20-member HHBC team of children, adults and teenagers set out plants in the side garden assisting the Stone Hall Garden Club of Donelson. Metro Parks and Recreation owns the historic home and opens it for weddings and other reserved occasions to the public.
The garden is currently being restored to its master plan by the local garden club and the church volunteers. Denise Thorne, president of the garden club, said, “It’s great to have these volunteers. It’s a blessing.”
“More than 60 HHBC volunteers served in several spots on the Greenway, which included picking up litter, landscaping and water distribution,” said Yolanda Hollingsworth, HHBC team leader for the Greenway.
At Lakewood/Old Hickory -Dixie Youth Ball Park, Old Hickory, a team of 15 church members with children spent the morning picking up trash, cleaning bathrooms, clearing fence rows, pressure washing playground equipment and readying a ball park for its next games.
Pam Graves, a member of over 40 years at Hermitage Hills Church, said, “I love doing community service work. This park is dear to my husband’s heart, Jim Graves, who is a former coach for Dixie Youth Little League.”
Richard Davis, a church member and former referee, served as the team leader for the Lakewood/Old Hickory Ball Park project. “The board of the Lakewood Little League gave us a list of things that needed to be done at the ball park,” said Davis. “We’ve volunteered before in this park and played coed softball out here. There are a lot of lost people in this community.”
In addition, “Serving Nashville” every weekend out of the basement of HHBC are the volunteers of Heartbeat Ministries, a missions ministry of the church to assist lower income people residing in four surrounding zip code areas. The ministry has operated out of the church building for two years after moving from a former warehouse location that was flooded.
Pat Guffy, Heartbeat director, and her team of 30 volunteers had already served about 25 families Saturday morning by helping the families to select used clothing, toys, house ware items, food packages and other items.
Before the families pick up their items, they spend time with a prayer counselor who shares Christ’s love with them and invites them to the church. “Our volunteers receive a bigger blessing working here than the people who come to accept our ministry support,” said Guffy.
Three salvations decisions were recorded by the HHBC volunteers while “Serving Nashville.”