Strengthening Community Missions Through Partnerships

Soon after Operation Inasmuch began in 1995, Baptist Men of North Carolina recognized the potential of this grassroots model of community ministry for churches across the state. At first, they encouraged NC Baptist congregations to consider learning how to conduct their own Inasmuch event by participating in a training experience at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church where Inasmuch began. “This was very early,” says David Crocker, Founder of Inasmuch. “We had no training materials or much of an idea how to train other churches, but we did our best and some churches took what we offered and had very good initial experiences with Inasmuch.”

Somewhere around 2007 Baptist Men and Inasmuch formed a partnership that resulted in a massive Inasmuch event on April 19, 2008. On that date more than a thousand churches across the state of North Carolina, from the mountains to the sea, all 100 counties in the state had Inasmuch events!

Baptist Men, who are committed to hands-on ministry, much of it in disaster relief, introduced their large statewide network to Inasmuch who trained hundreds of churches in how to conduct an Inasmuch Day. Training events were conducted in all 10 regions of the state. Baptist Men arranged for these events; Inasmuch conducted the training, and ministry took place across the state. “Churches, individual believers, countless people in need, and in some cases, who communities have been impacted as a result of the partnership between Baptist Men and Inasmuch,” says Crocker. “There is no way we could have ever expected Inasmuch to grow as it has without the help of Richard Brunson and the entire Baptist Men’s organization.”

Special thank you to Richard Brunson and Paul Langston of Baptist Men for sharing their story with us.

Collaboration to the Max

Volunteers from 23 different countries were represented!

On Saturday, August 29 Operation Inasmuch collaborated with a host of other organizations and entities to pack 40,650 nutritious meals which will be distributed over the next few months. David Crocker, Founder of Operation Inasmuch says, “Of all the events we have conducted, this one may be the most collaborative of all.”

Inasmuch partnered with Knoxville Internationals Network to conduct the event. Funding was secured through two local foundations — Y12 Federal Credit Union and the Robert L. Weiss Foundation. Woodlawn Christian Church in Knoxville hosted the event as well as providing some of their members as volunteers. Volunteers also came from several other churches in the community. Churches represented along with Woodlawn Christian Church included Eden Chapel, Calvary Baptist Church, Arabic Christian Church, Bridge Church, Corryton Church, His Grace (African) Christian Church, Russian Christian Church, and Central Baptist Church in Bearden. Food was packed and distributed to six local food pantries for them to share throughout the community. The best part of the packing event was the participation of volunteers from 23 nations working together to serve others – truly a “Collaboration to the Max.”

Sometimes it is said that churches are like silos – staying to themselves and doing their own thing. This may be to their detriment when collaborating with other congregations would greatly enhance their impact. Crocker says, “We promote collaboration among churches every chance we get — across denominational, racial, and socio-economic lines. When churches are willing to participate, we stand ready and willing to make this happen.”

One volunteer from Iraq who participated in the event was heard to say, “In my country many churches fight among each other. It’s different in America.” Gene Whaley, Executive Director of Inasmuch, said of the event, “It was a little taste of heaven.”

What makes this event even more amazing is that it took place during one of the most divisive periods in American history. “We need to see more examples of unity,” says Crocker. “The world needs to be reminded how much good can come from people working together for a common cause. We at Inasmuch are extremely grateful that God is providing opportunities for us to point the way. To Him be the glory!”

Click here to view pictures from this event. Check out coverage of the event from a local news station here.

Unifying Communities Through Operation Inasmuch

Inasmuch United Essex kick-off.

If one church can make a lasting difference in its community through Inasmuch, two or more churches can broaden the impact. Unity is so vital in the church. And I’m not only talking about “little C” churches. The CHURCH is made up of the entire body of Christ. Unity among bodies of believers is so important, especially when it comes to the effectiveness of the Church to be productive for the kingdom of God. In this month’s newsletter, we are going to look at a community in Tappahannock, VA that practices exactly what I’m preaching. Continue reading and watch this video for thoughts from Kathy Hughes and Sandy Baytops on their very large event called Inasmuch United Essex.

“There are so many reasons not only to do Operation Inasmuch, but to expand our benevolence to share the work with other churches in our communities. Some of the reasons to do so, as suggested from participants, in our version of Inasmuch United are:

  • more participants mean more projects can be accomplished.
  • it provides an opportunity to meet people who we would not have known before.
  • we make new friendships.
  • because of our event, our county can be viewed as a large community doing “good.”
  • it develops trust between faiths, localities, races, gender, and ages.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Inasmuch United Essex has been a wonderful mission event for 12 years. (The Corona virus unfortunately halted our progress this past April which would have been #13.) We learn and change and improve on our offerings from year to year, but we think we have a model worth sharing that would guide and encourage others to stage their own United mission day. We can say from the onset, that this way of doing Operation Inasmuch is not “easier”, but the rewards are greater than doing a one or two church event! Leaders in our county reference us as a great example of cooperation, and recently, when the new town managers held several forums to ask the positives and negatives in our county, Operation Inasmuch was high on the list of assets! We set an example for caring and cooperation with about 500 volunteers from 10 different denominations that has become a model for other events in our county, as well.

We think strong organization has kept us together for these many years. Even with the expected ebb and flow of churches which participate (often due to leadership/pastor changes) the lay leadership remains strong because of the desire to help others. We have the benefit of Essex Churches Together, an organization founded sixteen years ago, whose mission states that it “is an ecumenical Christian group united in partnership to fulfill the needs of the community and communicating and supporting resources to meet those needs.” Local agencies and helping groups present information to the representatives which is then taken back to the churches to see how they might support those needs. The 32 churches involved in ECT make up the constituents of Inasmuch United Essex. It is at their monthly meetings that the plans and timeline of the mission day are revealed and needs are discussed.

However, the main planning is done by the Core Planning Team, whose members we like to think of as:

Ccaring
Oorganizers who are
Rresourceful and
Eenthusiastic.

We have tried many configurations for this team, but find that about a dozen members – female, male, pastors, lay people, old, young, black, white, different faiths – have made the best team. In our 7-8 meetings, starting in October, prior to the mission day, the members bring forward the plans and materials needed in each area, whether a restoration & repair project, a services & gifts project, or a “Green Team” project. All members contribute their support and suggestions while encouraging the leader in that area.

Important organizational events start with our annual Soup Supper in early January where volunteers bring pots of soup, sandwiches, beverages, and desserts. It is a simple supper where about 75 leaders are encouraged to sit with someone who they do not know, and/or someone from another church. The group hears an encouraging talk for the work that they will be doing and listens to inspirational music provided by one of our churches. Then the leaders from each area separate and meet for discussion and training on how to carry out their leadership duties. Other important events are meetings held later for the Church Contacts to receive volunteer signup forms for their congregations, and then the Team Leaders to receive final instructions and the names of their volunteers who they will call. There is a follow up phone bank to make sure all volunteers are contacted.

If you find that your church can only do “so much” due to limited resources, talent, money, and/or energy, we can truly say that we are excited and inspired by reaching out to other churches in our community to find out how we can work together, to not only make the lives of many of our community members better, but to grow in our love for our fellow Christians.

We already know that volunteering helps the one who receives and the one who gives. But doing an Inasmuch United makes better community through learning to trust each other more instead of feeling challenged by others, through learning new ways of doing benevolences and finding out that we’re really not that different if our goal is to be hands and feet of Jesus together.”

Kathy and Sandy have been so kind to offer further help to others out there who are looking to unite their communities. If you would like more information or would like to talk to them directly, please contact our office to get their contact information. Inasmuch United is just one of the models we use to train churches through our ministry. Our heart is for the CHURCH and to see it functioning as the hands and feet of Jesus. We pray that this information encourages you and your congregation to do just that!

A “Founder” of Operation Inasmuch has Died

The original Missions Committee: Mary Comstock, Rev. Bob Ginn, Jerry Odom, David Crocker, Bob Cogswell, Tom Pitts, Colbert Dilday.

Colbert Dilday of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC, the place of origination for Inasmuch, passed away on June 13, 2020. His obituary rightly says he was one of the founders of Operation Inasmuch because he was on the original Missions Committee of Snyder Memorial who planned the first Inasmuch Day in 1995.

The Sunday morning worship following the first Snyder Memorial Inasmuch Day in March 1995, the church celebrated how God used them to spread His love throughout the Fayetteville community. Pastor David Crocker did not preach that Sunday. Instead, he invited congregants to share from their experiences with Operation Inasmuch. “The sharing was so enthusiastic that we had to call time,” says Crocker. “It was one of the most joyful times I have ever experienced in 40 years of ministry,” he adds.

Dilday was one of the people who shared in that celebration. “I don’t remember everything he said,” says Crocker, “but I do remember he said he’d never been so proud of his church than he was on that Saturday of Inasmuch. One of Colbert’s comments proved to be prophetic. He said: ‘I hope we won’t put a period on this experience but a comma.’

Colbert Dilday is one of the reasons God chose Snyder Memorial Baptist Church to be the people to initiate the Inasmuch ministry. His love for serving people in need, his passion for using his skills to demonstrate God’s love in acts of kindness, and his understanding that the church is a mission outpost for God’s grace made him the perfect person to be part of the vision of Inasmuch in the beginning and its ongoing.

Dilday also exemplified lifestyle compassion ministry. He was instrumental in establishing the Carpentry Ministry at Snyder Memorial that continues to this day. This ministry has built hundreds of wheelchair ramps in the Fayetteville area and made needed home repairs for people who could not make the repairs themselves or afford to pay for them.

 

“No one was more pleased than Colbert to see the Inasmuch ministry established as an ongoing, self-sustaining ministry that has been shared with congregations in 25 states and several other countries,” says Crocker. “He was and always will be one of my heroes in ministry. I am wonderfully blessed to have known him and worked alongside him for a small portion of my life. I am better today because of Colbert and others like him at Snyder Memorial!” says Crocker.

Three Areas to Help Your Church Thrive

3 Core Areas to Help Your Church ThriveServing in today’s world will be different. We are faced with new challenges, emotions, and struggles that make us give pause to serving in the methods that we were used to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are playing and replaying the same questions in our minds: “Can I leave my house?”, “Should I wear a mask?”, “What if I get sick while trying to help someone else?”, “Am I being disobedient if I do not rush out to save the world?” Depending on where you live in the country or in the world, people are faced with different sorts of questions and different layers of concerns. It is so difficult to make blanket statements that prove true for all right now. But, we can always start with God’s word.

The Bible is pretty clear about serving your neighbor and taking care of the least of these. I cannot find a caveat that says “unless there is a pandemic or you are fearful.” 1 Peter 4:10 tells us that “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” God’s grace is readily available. His grace fills us with the strength to overcome everything the devil tries to pile on us. God reveals Himself as our helper, protector, healer, provider, and defender. His grace supplies whatever is needed to lift the load and allows us to press on in service to one another.

As we mentioned in this video, we want to encourage you to not forget about your neighbors and your community. As we are being told to stay home or to not gather in large groups, it becomes very easy to stop looking outward to see what the needs are around us. We begin to focus only on our family or only on our church congregations. We forget about the high percentage of unchurched people all around us, and we really don’t want to forget them as we struggle with the best ways to help.

I want to leave you with three core areas that will help your church thrive during these changing times.

  1. LEADERSHIP – What a challenging time for our pastors and church leaders! We need to pray for these people who have been called and set apart to shepherd the church. With everything happening today, our church leaders have to be able to make quick decisions that impact large numbers of people, all the while seeking and trusting Christ for direction. Leaders, use this opportunity to refocus on the things that mean the most, both to your local church and to the church. Reground your staff and leaders about the biblical vision for your church and go be the church. As you look for ways to reach out to the community through service, you might just find some new unexpected leaders capable of meeting real needs in your own congregation.
  2. ADAPTABILITY – The importance of adaptability right now can not be understated! This includes adaptability from the leadership and certainly adaptability from the congregation. Let’s not let the devil get a foothold in the church with discord over varying options. Over the next 6 – 12 months, consider possible changes that could occur and pray about how you might respond. Setting more short-term ministry goals with potential “plan B” steps will prove to be effective in the near future. As you look at Operation Inasmuch, think about doing projects in small groups of 10 and under. Even consider spreading out the projects over several weekends to meet any guidelines in place and get the most bang for your buck.
  3. COLLABORATION – This pandemic is definitely a time to come together. The body of Christ is made of many parts and we all have a part to play (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Churches need to unify in ways that they have never done before. People are hurting. This pandemic has brought on unexpected deaths, loss of jobs and comfort, and millions of people are looking for hope. The emotional and mental health of people has been affected greatly. Depression and loneliness are at an all-time high and people are seeking fellowship and relationships. What a time for the church to step up, in the name of Jesus, and fill a void! Community agencies will be looking for help as things continue to unfold and again, the church has to be there for the community. Reach out to them as you plan Inasmuch projects to see how you might collaborate through your church.

[Read more…]

You’ll want to be a part of this!

25 for 25 campaign

Sometimes in life we reach certain milestones that are truly significant! Our life’s milestones will almost always help us grow or change who we are as a person or as an organization in some important way. 2020 provides this unique opportunity for Operation Inasmuch and for YOU.

2020 is the 25th anniversary of Operation Inasmuch! This is a wonderful time of reflection and dreaming. A time for not only looking back but forward at how God might continue to use Inasmuch to enhance churches’ efforts to reach their full potential in compassion ministry. Because God has given and blessed this tool of compassion ministry so generously, we are launching a 25 for 25 Campaign.

Our 25 for 25 Campaign is multifaceted. It will include times of celebration, ministry, and fundraising for growth. First, along with Snyder Memorial Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC, we will celebrate 25 blessed years of compassion ministry. We hope to honor the remaining members of the original Missions Committee who planned the first event, as well as participate in the Snyder Memorial Inasmuch Day on March 28.

Our focus then turns to the thousands of churches that have used this model of ministry through the 25 years. The campaign will encourage churches to conduct an Inasmuch Day or United event in 25 states/nations at a time that works best for them in 2020. Let us know if your church already has an event scheduled. Maybe you have not conducted an Inasmuch event in some time. You’ll want to be part of the Compassion Revolution during 2020. Let us know how we can help you.

Finally, our campaign focuses on mission growth. One very generous donor has pledged $25,000 toward this campaign with the intention that we would raise an additional $25,000 in matching funds. We want the footprint of this ministry to reach farther and wider that ever before. These funds will go toward several initiatives to help more churches mobilize more church members to serve more people more often. Some of the initiatives will include: video series inspiring more churches to join the Compassion Revolution, training events in multiple states for networks of churches that want to serve their community well, and establishing an online Inasmuch Network offering churches a way to unite, network, pray, and build solid relationships with the intent of better serving the least of these.

The overall vision for this ministry is that we see a Compassion Revolution sweep across the nation. This will not happen with you! YOU can join the revolution this year. YOU can be the light that YOUR community needs. YOU can make a financial gift, which will be doubled, to grow the impact this ministry can have for the next 25 years.

Inasmuch Turns 25!

The original Missions Committee: Mary Comstock, Rev. Bob Ginn, Jerry Odom, David Crocker, Bob Cogswell, Tom Pitts, Colbert Dilday. Not pictured: Marshall Logue

How do you know when God inspires an idea? By how big it is? Or how many people are impacted by it? Or how it reveals more of God Himself? Or how long it endures? The answer to all these questions is: YES!!

Twenty-five years ago, a church in Fayetteville, NC tried something they had never done before (which means they got past the biggest barrier to innovation in any church – the saying “We haven’t done it that way before.”) and it changed not only that church but hundreds of others as well. In 1995, Snyder Memorial Baptist Church conducted the first ever Inasmuch Day. Twenty-five years later there are more than 2,000 churches in 25 states and 4 countries doing Inasmuch!

It all started when the staff of Snyder Memorial was planning the church calendar in their annual retreat at Litchfield, NC. They considered a revival – a series of services lasting a week in which a guest preacher and perhaps guest musician would attempt to rev up the congregation to be more passionate about their faith and their witnessing. As the staff talked, they agreed that maybe it was time for a different approach. One of the ideas floated was an emphasis on serving people in need in their community. The more they talked, the more excited they became about the possibilities for this idea. [Read more…]

Change is in the Air

Fall is a time of visual and tangible change. We see the change in foliage colors, we enjoy the cooler and often dryer air. A new school year has begun – a new football season!

For Operation Inasmuch significant change began last October 2018 when Executive Director, John Daugherty, shared with our board of directors that he planned to retire December 2019. That announcement began several months of transition.

“Inasmuch Champions”: Mike Pearce (AL), Kathy Hughes (VA), Susie Reeder (NC), Paul Langston (NC), and Walter Taylor (TN)

To work through the year of transition, we recruited very strategically for the incoming board members with an emphasis on good leadership skills. The board then made two very positive, strategic decisions. First, it was determined to secure the services of an organizational and leadership coach. Ircel Harrison of Murfreesboro, TN with Pinnacle Leadership Associates contracted with the board to help with thinking through what Inasmuch hoped to be in the next few years and to evaluate what was most important for moving in that direction. Ircel suggested a full-day retreat with the board along with some “Inasmuch Champions” recruited from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee who have been strong leaders and supporters over the years. That retreat was held on March 2, 2019 and proved to be of significant value in the transition process.

The second strategic decision was to contract with the Alliance for Better Nonprofits in Knoxville to help lead the executive search process. Elle Benson of ABN worked with the board in fine-tuning the job description along with professional and faith expectations. She was very instrumental in spreading the job opening among their vast network of other nonprofits, in addition to utilizing other ministry and professional networks associated with Inasmuch. In all we received over 70 responses to the job announcement. Given the clear directives for how to apply, there were over 20 who made the cut to be reviewed. The board reviewed and rated those using a matrix developed by ABN and narrowed the field down to four candidates who were invited for the first round of interviews. [Read more…]

Faithful Inasmuch Church Rises from the Ashes

2015 fire @ Bethlehem Baptist

Just weeks after completing their seventh year of conducting an Inasmuch Day on July 18, 2015, most of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Taylorsville, NC was destroyed by fire. All that was left was the lower part of the fellowship hall. For several months while smoke damage was repaired, the church met at a nearby elementary school. However, before the year was over, they were able to meet again on the church property in what was left and salvaged of the fellowship area.

For over four years the church continued to make do while new facilities were built and on Sunday, August 4, 2019 the new sanctuary was dedicated and fully in use. Through those years of rebuilding from the ashes, the church continued to faithfully conduct their annual Inasmuch Day. As coordinator, Milton Good, said, “we never once thought about not doing Operation Inasmuch. It is so much a part of who we are and what we do. It is fulfilling one of Jesus’ commands from Matthew 25:40…to do unto the least of these.” [Read more…]

Unstoppable Jim Duncan Loved Inasmuch

Some people make an impression by their achievements and their honors. Some do so by their charisma or unique personality. And a few impress others by their character and perseverance. Jim Duncan of Fayetteville, NC was such a person.

Jim was born and raised in Alabama, fibbed about his age to join the Army as a teenager, rose through the ranks until he reached Command Sergeant Major (the highest rank for enlisted personnel), and retired after 27 years in the Army. He married the love of his life, Jean, when he was a teenager and these two shared 72 years together. The last 20 years of his life saw him struggle with emphysema and at least the last 10 years of his life he was tethered to an oxygen tank 24-7. On August 6, Jim Duncan was released from his struggle and ushered into that place God has held in reserve for him for almost all of his living days.

Jim was among the first to participate in Operation Inasmuch at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church of Fayetteville in 1995. For nearly 20 years, every time the church held an Inasmuch Day Jim and Jean were part of it. Most years Jim was involved in home repair projects because he was good with his hands and enjoyed that kind of work. The photo to the right shows Jim in one of his last Inasmuch projects. The large, dark object on his back is his oxygen tank. Hence the title “Unstoppable Jim Duncan.”

David Crocker, Founder of the Inasmuch ministry, participated in Jim’s funeral at Snyder Memorial. He pointed to this photo which was printed on the funeral program. He said, “This picture says exactly how I remember Jim Duncan. First, he was on a ladder working on an Inasmuch home repair project with an oxygen tank on his back. Most people wouldn’t do that. They would say ‘I can’t do that work anymore.’ Not Jim. Instead, he said ‘what needs doing here?’ and he set about doing it.” [Read more…]