10 Years and Going Strong in Essex County, VA

Any one who has ever started something knows how hard it is to keep it going.  New events, organizations or programs usually begin with an exciting vision—dreams about what is possible, about how the world (maybe just the community) will be better as a result of the vision–but that vision almost always fades with the passing of time.  And its initiators are left with less going for them than when they began.

So, when a handful of “dreamers” in Essex County, Virginia on the southern shore of the Rappahannock River not far from the Atlantic began Inasmuch United Essex in 2008, their vision was many of the congregations of various denominations and races working together to serve people in need in their community.  David Crocker, Founder of Inasmuch says: “I remember clearly the training session in early 2008 in Tappahannock.  One percent of the total county population turned out to participate!  I knew then that something unusual was afoot in that small Virginia community.  It is no surprise that ten years later Inasmuch United is still going strong there.”

Inasmuch became a tool to accomplish the goals of Essex Churches Together (ECT), an interdenominational organization formed in Tappahannock prior to Inasmuch to bring about better ministry for the churches.  “We started ECT because all of our churches are small and we knew we could do more together than we could individually,” says Kathy Hughes, Co-coordinator for Inasmuch United.  “Inasmuch was just what we were looking for to do what we wanted to do.  It builds community for sure.  One particularly gruff man who is known to complain a lot once said: ‘Nothing in this community gets us to know each other better than Inasmuch!’”

In the lead article in the April 26 issue of the Rappahannock Times entitled “Tenth Operation Inasmuch,” a newcomer to the community is quoted:  “I have only been in this community a couple of years.  It was impressive how everyone came together and it wasn’t a crisis.  It was good to hear the testimonies at our church this morning.”

It hasn’t been easy.  In fact, Hughes says, “It is no easier in Essex Co. to get along and keep a huge event going than anywhere else.  We have had to remain very intentional both in our work to plan Inasmuch each year and to keep it connected to ECT.”  She says that they have lost a few churches from involvement in Inasmuch over the ten years but they have gained some as well.  She hastens to say that a church’s lack of engagement may well be due to a change in pastoral leadership.  “Just because a church sends fewer volunteers or no volunteers one year doesn’t mean the church no longer wants to be involved but that their leaders have not carried out their responsibilities,” she says.

Even with these challenges, the leaders of Essex Inasmuch United report that they began with about 300 volunteers and have maintained about 500 for most of the years.  “We got as high as 800 one year,” says Hughes, “but that was too many for our small town.  Too many volunteers were standing around instead of working.”  According to 2010 census data, the population of Essex Co is just over 11,000 which means about 5 percent of the residents of the county are involved in Inasmuch.  Thirty-three churches and a private school are represented in these volunteers. Click here to view a video of the most recent Inasmuch event.

David Crocker says: “There is no question that maintaining an Inasmuch event whether a Day or a United is leadership.  The leaders must be very strong in their commitment to what they are doing through Inasmuch.  They have to be able to push through discouragement and breakdowns in the work from time to time.  Tappahannock is very fortunate to have Kathy Hughes and Sandy Baytops as their leaders.  They deserve the lion’s share of the credit for all the success in Tappahannock.”

You may be able to meet and hear from Hughes and Baytops at the Inasmuch Networking Convention August of 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Preliminary plans are in place to have them lead a workshop on how to organize and maintain an Inasmuch United event.

Inasmuch United Brings Unity

The following story is the kind that makes what we do at Operation Inasmuch so rewarding, and encourages us to keep on keeping on!

There are two Concord Baptist Churches in Chase City, Virginia. Following the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, the black members of Concord Church requested permission to form their own autonomous congregation. Property was donated adjacent to the original, separated by the cemetery, and the two congregations have been neighbors for more than 150 years, and share the same name.

Here is the story as shared by one of the pastors, Rev. John Mann of the original Concord Church, and published in The News Progress, posted May 3, 2017. [Read more…]

What About the Next 10 Years?

In the article by our founder, Dr. David Crocker, celebrates and remembers the ten years since the beginning of the full-time Inasmuch ministry. Incredible things have occurred because of the faithfulness and blessing of God over these last ten years.

Dr. Crocker ended with this, “What do the next 10 years hold for Inasmuch? We don’t know…”  And he’s correct, it is impossible to project ten years down the road. However, in the Fall of 2015 the board and ministry leadership gathered for a “futuring” retreat led by consultant, George Bullard. From our conversations and dreaming, George “sketched” out a possible story for ten years from now. With those broad-strokes we are moving forward with some goals, hopes and yes, dreams for the future.

Perhaps the largest goal driving our work is the development of a Compassion Revolution Network of churches who are part of the Inasmuch family of churches. These are the 2,000 or so churches who have conducted Inasmuch Days, Inasmuch United Days and who are embarking on Inasmuch Life. Our hope is that this network will serve as a support fellowship for churches driven to live out the compassion ministry Jesus has called us to and exampled for us. [Read more…]

Happy Birthday, Inasmuch!

Where were you ten years ago? What were you involved in that had the potential of impacting the Kingdom of God?

A small group—no more than 40 people—was assembled in the Beaver Creek Country Club, Knoxville, Tennessee dining room on January, 2007 for the purpose of launching the full-time ministry Operation Inasmuch, Inc.  While documents establishing the ministry officially with the IRS (501-c-3 status) and the state of Tennessee (charter) had already been filed, until January, 2007, the Inasmuch ministry as we know it today did not exist.

“There was excitement, for sure,” says David Crocker, Founder and only employee of Inasmuch at the time, “but there were more than a few questions for which only time would provide the answers. Will this work? Will churches want to do Inasmuch in sufficient numbers to make the ministry viable? Will Inasmuch succeed where other start-up non-profits have failed in large numbers? Is Inasmuch sustainable?” [Read more…]

What’s in Your Toolbox?

Every minister that has been at it for a while has a toolbox of ministries—ideas, programs, “tricks of the trade” he has used in prior places of service.  These are tried and true ideas he can implement in a new place of service which will enhance his church’s effectiveness as well as the congregation’s confidence in their pastor.

Pastor David Grinnell of People’s Memorial Christian Church, Burlington, North Carolina has Operation Inasmuch in his toolbox and he knows how to use it!  It served him well in a Baptist church in Jefferson and Hickory, North Carolina and it has “worked” well again recently at People’s Memorial where 136 volunteers completed 24 projects serving 972 people in need in the Burlington community. [Read more…]

Inasmuch Facilitates Public-Private Partnership

Public-private partnerships are the rage in communities—collaborative efforts involving public or governmental entities, private agencies and churches.  Just such a partnership took place in May in High Point, North Carolina and Inasmuch was the tool that brought it together.

When David Crocker visited with the principals of this partnership in June, they were thrilled with how well their Inasmuch event went.  They had more volunteers than they needed.  They saved the City many thousands of dollars since the home repairs were done by volunteers.  The president of the Home Owners Association in the neighborhood where the projects took place said more owners have joined the HOA and a general sense of pride in the neighborhood has been on the rise since the Inasmuch event.  A well done video tells the story of this amazing partnership.  It may be seen above or by clicking here. [Read more…]

Inasmuch Exported to Guatemala

One of David Crocker’s favorite lines (he often uses it in training churches to conduct Inasmuch events) is “When you do what God tells you to do, He always has more in mind.”

Again and again, this truth has shown up in the Inasmuch ministry.  God opens a door and invites Inasmuch to go through it, and, lo and behold, fresh, unforeseen opportunities are revealed!

Such has been the case with Inasmuch’s experiences in Guatemala.  In 2014 the ministry shipped a full shipping container of more than 252,000 meals to Guatemala which were distributed by mission teams visiting there throughout the summer of that year.  David Crocker and Board member Corky Corcoran were among those who went with a mission team from Central Baptist Church of Johnson City, TN.  A video showing the distribution of these meals may be seen by clicking here. [Read more…]

Schools Get Boost from Inasmuch

United Sweetwater

Increasingly, public schools are considered off-limits for churches and church groups.  Not so in Sweetwater, Tennessee.  At their May meeting, the Sweetwater School Board recognized four churches that held their first Inasmuch United Sweetwater for the work they did on behalf of several of their schools in April.  Three hundred volunteers from First Baptist, First Presbyterian, First United Methodist and First Assembly of God fanned out throughout the small town between Knoxville and Chattanooga conducting 26 Inasmuch projects and serving their community including work done at the schools.

In 2015, First Baptist, Sweetwater conducted their first Inasmuch Day with two-thirds of their members participating.  Encouraged by that success, they wanted to make it bigger and better this year, so they invited the 3 other congregations to join them.  David Crocker trained a team from all the churches how to expand the Inasmuch Day to an Inasmuch United.  At least six other congregations in Sweetwater have already asked if they can participate in 2017!! [Read more…]

Shining the Light in the Sunshine State

FBC Palmetto

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14, ESV) Jesus came as the light of the world and called his followers to shine his light for all the world to see and to know.

His light was very evident in the Sunshine State over the past few weeks! First Baptist Church of Palmetto, FL near Bradenton conducted its first Inasmuch Day on Saturday, Feb. 27. You can read about it from the local newspaper here, and you can see it at from a TV news article here.

More than 400 members worked together to be the hands, feet, eyes and heart of Christ as they fanned out across Palmetto creating a Compassion Revolution in their community. It is always amazing when the value of such volunteer hours of ministry are calculated – current IRS value of a volunteer hour is $23.07! Those 400 plus volunteers generated over $36,000 worth of service making their community a better place by serving the unserved, loving the unloved and reaching the unchurched! [Read more…]

“Training Up” in 2016!

In Proverbs 22:6 it reminds us how important good beginnings and valuable training are, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (ESV)

John and Logan

New friends, John and Logan.

The picture is of my new friend, Logan, who attended the North Carolina Region 8 NC OIAM 2016 training in Shelby, NC Saturday, January 9.  He is a great “poster-child” for Operation Inasmuch!  But it is because of the example and leadership of his father that he and his brother are committed participants in the Compassion Revolution.

OIAM is involved again in 2016 with NC Baptist Men and NC Baptists on Mission emphasizing “whole church and whole community” ministry through Inasmuch Days April 30-May 7.  David Crocker and John Daugherty are conducting regional training across the state in January and February “training up” folks to be effective in meeting people in their communities at the point of their needs.  Hundreds of churches across the state will be conducting Inasmuch Days and Inasmuch United Days moving from the pews of their churches into the streets of their communities as part of the Compassion Revolution being the hands, feet, eyes and hearts of Christ. [Read more…]