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.” [Read more…]

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…]

Operation Inasmuch Has Much to Celebrate

Oldest Inasmuch Volunteer

Some congregations are reluctant to conduct an Inasmuch Day because “our congregation is mostly old people and there isn’t much we can do,” they say.  Don’t try telling Jim Garrison of Christiansburg, Virginia, that.  At 102, Garrison is among the volunteers who serve the Radford, Virginia community in each Inasmuch.  In the Inasmuch events the First Baptist Church of Radford conducted in 2013 and 2014, he and his daughter, Nina Clopton, delivered lunches to some of the Inasmuch volunteers.  When asked whether he “took the lunches to the volunteers” or waited for them to pick them up, with a smile he said:  “Take ‘em to ‘em!”

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At 102 Mr. Garrison is Operation Inasmuch’s oldest volunteer

Garrison’s first encounter with Inasmuch was at University Baptist Church, Charlottesville, Virginia where he and his wife were long time members.  When they moved to Radford to be closer to their son, it was only natural that they get involved in Inasmuch there, too.  As a long-time Baptist deacon, he was well acquainted with serving others.  His daughter says it has been a way of life for him.

Bob Badgett of University Baptist, Charlottesville, says:  “The Garrisons were Mr. and Mrs. UBC for 40 years!  They were involved in our first Inasmuch in 2004 and each year thereafter until they moved.  They were true servants and everybody loved them.”  Because Inasmuch has spread into other parts of Virginia, Jim Garrison can keep on serving sandwiches in his new place of residence for who knows how long!  [Read more…]

Inasmuch in the Philippines

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Inasmuch United Taken to a New Level

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Some of the volunteers serving and those served gather for a group picture.

Many churches are learning that they can impact their community with Inasmuch, but what about the world?!  Congregations in Radford, Virginia, would answer in a resounding Yes!  Four Radford churches (Baptist, Methodist, Christian and Presbyterian) conducted their first Inasmuch United event in September of 2014.

But they didn’t stop there.  They also “collaborated” with two congregations in the Philippines which conducted their first Inasmuch on the same day!  (Actually, since the Philippines is located west of the international date line, their Inasmuch was technically the date before the one in Radford.)  The Filipino congregations videoed their Inasmuch and posted it on YouTube.  When the Radford churches gathered for their Inasmuch, they were able to see what their Filipino brothers and sisters did a few hours before!  [Read more…]

Inasmuch Transforms

“The Church Is Changed!”

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West Hampton Baptist Church in West Hampton, Virginia

West Hampton Baptist Church in Hampton, VA, is not the same church.  The building looks the same.  For the most part, the same people attend and most of the activities are the same as they have been for a long time.  But according to Sohn McGough, Coordinator of West Hampton’s recent Inasmuch Day, the church has most definitely changed.

 

“It was a day of miracles!” says McGough.  “Everywhere we turned on our Inasmuch Day we were surprised at how God multiplied our efforts.”  We planned to give out 50 care packages to nursing home patients and it ended up being about 180.  We noticed that the staff at the nursing home were less than enthusiastic about our coming, so we gave 40 of the care packages to them.  They were excited to see that we cared about them as well as the patients.  Furthermore, we have made a commitment to continue ministering to them every month!”  [Read more…]

Inasmuch Blitzes Virginia

What’s faster than a speeding bullet, more interesting than a Dan Brown novel, and more challenging than an Army drill sergeant?  No, It’s not Superman; just David Crocker zigzagging across Virginia telling the Inasmuch story and training dozens of churches to conduct Inasmuch events later this year.

For two years the Inasmuch ministry has been working with church leaders in Virginia to plan and promote a statewide Inasmuch effort for the fall of 2014.  The training sessions David conducted throughout the state-from Winchester in the north, to Hampton in the east, to Roanoke in the west and South Boston in the south-during the last half of March is the latest and most ambitious aspect of this plan.

David Crocker addresses a full training session in Virginia during the statewide training blitz.

David Crocker addresses a full training session in Virginia during the statewide training blitz.

“Virginia is the third state to undertake a statewide Inasmuch event,” says Crocker.  “North Carolina is doing their fourth this spring!  The South Carolina Synod of Lutheran Churches has held Inasmuch events on a statewide basis for several years.  Before this year, there were about 60 Virginia churches using Inasmuch to impact their community,” he adds.  “By November that number will have tripled or quadrupled!”

Crocker was on the road in Virginia for 12 consecutive days.  “This was a first,” he says.  “I have conducted dozens of training sessions in a number of states, but this is the first time to do so every day for 12 days.”  (See the box below for specifics)

by the numbersEnthusiasm for Inasmuch was strong and participants at these training sessions were excited about mobilizing their congregation into their community.  In more than one of the sessions there were people from churches that have past experience with Inasmuch and spoke favorably about their experiences.

The state of Virginia is just one more place where God is using Operation Inasmuch to help His people become more externally focused and effective at demonstrating His love and grace . . . and He doesn’t have to have Superman’s help to do it!

Collegians Tap Inasmuch to Serve

It’s common knowledge that college students love to “give back,” or serve people in need and more of them are discovering

Virginia students serve in Inasmuch Day.

Virginia students serve in Inasmuch Day.

that the Inasmuch model is useful in achieving that worthy goal.  Last fall 46 members of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, conducted an Inasmuch Day on their campus.  They bused tables in the dining hall, picked up trash around campus and delivered homemade cookies to the campus police.  In a creative way to serve, these Inasmuch volunteers gave away toilet paper to their fellow students and wrote notes of appreciation to the faculty.

“We wanted to show our fellow students and faculty that we care about them and Inasmuch provided the structure for us to do that,” said Cheri Wise, BCM Minister.  “We all wore Inasmuch T-shirts and so were visible as we served throughout the day.”

A second Inasmuch Day is planned for this spring at Longwood, this time with 2 other Christian organizations participating.  Word of Inasmuch at Longwood spread to the Baptist Campus Ministry at Old Dominion University in eastern Virginia.  The ODU group conducted their first Inasmuch Day on February 7 & 8.  With only 25 students participating they conducted more than a dozen projects.

Scott Anderson, BCM Minister at ODU said:  “The feeling I got from the students is that serving people becomes contagious.  They want more and have already asked when we can do this again.  Their eyes were definitely opened to the needs of people around them.”

Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity at the University of Tennessee conducted their first Inasmuch Day on November 2, 2013.  A Christian fraternity, BYX is intentional about incorporating compassion ministry in their fraternity life.  The group mobilized 8 teams of volunteers in November.  They constructed a wheelchair ramp for disabled widow, painted transitional housing for FOCUS Prison Ministries, sorted donated items at the Salvation Army and Angelic Ministries in Knoxville.

University of Tennessee BXY Fraternity students during their Inasmuch event.

University of Tennessee BXY fraternity students sort and organize items for an agency during their Inasmuch event.

Reporting their ministry to a group of Inasmuch supporters the following day, Preston Morris, Chaplain for BYX, said:  “We thoroughly enjoyed working with Operation Inasmuch in organizing our service projects.  It was a big help for them to facilitate our contacts with organizations here in Knoxville who could use our help.”

BYX is planning a second Inasmuch Day this spring.  Meeting with David Crocker, Executive Director of the Inasmuch Ministry, Blake Barton BYX Service Chair said:  “We’re excited about making a difference even while we are students.  Serving people in need is most definitely part of the Christian life and we provide these events as a way of reinforcing that understanding.”

Crocker says:  “Our ultimate goal is to catalyze a compassion revolution.  Working with these college groups does much to encourage us that such a movement is in fact in process.  As many of these students eventually become leaders in congregations across the country, our hope is that they will take their experiences with Inasmuch with them and bring those congregations into the revolution as well.”

Inasmuch Revival Produces 125% Participation

What’s an Inasmuch Revival?  It is an effective, intensive way of motivating church folk to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their community.  In September, Colosse Baptist Church, West Point, VA, conducted their first Inasmuch Day.  They had 125% of their average Sunday attendance involved!!  They attribute much of that extraordinary success to what they call an Inasmuch Revival—a series of church renewal services the week of their Inasmuch Day.  Phil Peacock, pastor of Broadus Memorial Baptist Church nearby, preached the revival.  Broadus had conducted their first Inasmuch Day in 2012 and Peacock often referenced his church’s experience with Inasmuch as he preached in Colosse.  Steve Smith, Pastor at Colosse says:  “The revival really helped prepare our congregation to participate in Operation Inasmuch.” 

David Crocker, Executive Director of the national Inasmuch Ministry says:  “What’s interesting about Colosse’s experience is that this is precisely the way Inasmuch happened initially in 1995!  Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, Fayetteville, pioneered Operation Inasmuch at the conclusion of a series of renewal services.  We found it to be enormously effective in motivating folks to get involved and apparently Colosse in Virginia has made the same discovery.”

Although Colosse Baptist is located in a rural area and they are not a large church by any measurement, they achieved 125% participation as folk who rarely attend worship and college students came home that weekend to participate.  Holding the revival services with compassion ministry as the focus Sunday through Wednesday prior to their Inasmuch Day on Saturday clearly enhanced their overall experience.

               Mark Townsend, Colosse’s Inasmuch Coordinator says the church conducted 24 projects in their Inasmuch Day—food collection for food pantries, sewing pillowcases for a nearby hospital, assisting customers at a local Laundromat, clothing and money giveaways at a local gas station, visiting a juvenile detention center, and many others.  He adds that one of the keys to their success is the training they received from the Inasmuch ministry several months earlier.  Also, they purchased the Inasmuch Day Training Kit which provided lots of useful resources and instructions as they prepared for their event.

Townsend smiles when he tells about Colosse’s celebration.  He says in his church folk sometimes complain when Sunday worship runs past Noon.  But on the Sunday following Inasmuch, the pastor asked people to share from their experiences with Inasmuch the day before.  THAT day worship ran until 1:00 “and no one complained!” says Townsend.

“Our people are already talking about our Inasmuch for next year,” says Townsend.  “Inasmuch has helped us see some of the needs in our community AND our ability to meet those needs.  We are a different church today because of Inasmuch.”

Inasmuch Spans the Rappahannock

The Rappahannock River runs from about King George, Virginia (east of Interstate 95) to the Chesapeake Bay.  As it gets closer to the Chesapeake, it becomes a substantial river of up to 1.5 miles wide!  Turns out this expansive river is not much of a barrier for Inasmuch!

Essex County, Virginia is on the western shore of the Rappahannock.  In 2008 about 20 churches there conducted their first Inasmuch United Essex and have followed every year since with more churches and more volunteers each year.  In recent years organizers have talked about taking a year off, but the churches have resisted.  They say it is one of the most significant events in their community all year!

Inasmuch United Rappahannock

In 2009 word about Inasmuch “floated” across the Rappahannock to the region known as Northern Neck Virginia which includes the counties on the eastern shore of the Rappahannock.  In 2010 a number of congregations in Richmond and Westmoreland Counties conducted their first Inasmuch United Northern Neck event.  It expanded the following year to include congregations in Northumberland County.

“On Saturday, September 28, hundreds of local Operation Inasmuch volunteers wearing conspicuous red shirts will once again be working throughout the Northern Neck as part of the fourth annual Inasmuch United Northern Neck event,” reads the opening line of the lead article in the Northern Neck News, September 20 issue.  The article continues:  “At 8:00 AM volunteers from three counties representing over twenty churches and several local organizations will begin work on numerous projects in the community to help neighbors in need.”

David Crocker, Executive Director of Operation Inasmuch, Inc., says:  “Needless to say, the expansion of Inasmuch in northeastern Virginia is gratifying.  I just wish everyone associated with Inasmuch, especially our donors, could hear how excited believers on both sides of the Rappahannock are about Inasmuch.  At a workshop I led in Virginia last May, a person involved in the Inasmuch United Northern Neck went on and on about what Inasmuch has meant to that region.”

The Rappahannock is fast becoming a model for the rest of Virginia.  Plans are underway for a statewide Inasmuch in October of 2014.  The goal is to have 80 percent of the Baptist churches in the state conduct Inasmuch events across the state during a period of 4 weeks.  The Inasmuch ministry is working with the Steering Committee of Operation Inasmuch – Virginia to accomplish these lofty goals.  Already 3 Inasmuch training sessions have been conducted in the state with 2 more set for this October and as many as half a dozen next March.

Says David Crocker:  “No river is too wide and no mountain is too high for Inasmuch to get across it with the message that God’s mercy is best shown, then talked.  Without a doubt, Inasmuch is changing the way people in Virginia think about church!”

Two Churches Serve Suffolk, VA

The following article was published on August 4, 2012, in the Suffolk (Virginia) News-Herald:

Church Members Reach Out

by Tracy Agnew

Dozens of members of two downtown churches spread out across the city Saturday on a mission of hope.

It was the second year of Operation Inasmuch for West End Baptist Church and Suffolk Presbyterian Church. They started doing the ministries last year in lieu of conducting vacation Bible school.

“We really are enjoying this more than VBS,” said Lou Ventura, one of the organizers of the event. “At VBS, we were just ministering to ourselves. We felt we needed to really help the community.”

Jack Leach, left, and Jack Stoughton help repair Peggy Luter’s front porch on First Avenue on Saturday. The project was part of Operation Inasmuch, done by two downtown churches.

The weekend-long event began Friday, when the two churches met at West End and the Rev. Rebecca Lesley of Suffolk Presbyterian delivered the message. Teams ironed out final details for the next day over a potluck dinner.

On Saturday, six teams went off on their missions of compassion.

A hygiene kit team assembled hygiene kits and donated them to the Western Tidewater Free Clinic. A sewing team delivered pillows, walker bags and lap blankets they had handmade to a nursing home. A yard sale team sold donated items for 25 cents each at Suffolk Presbyterian Church. A construction team completed a three-day project to repair and paint a front porch on First Avenue. A cemetery team began mapping the graves at Oak Lawn Cemetery, the long-neglected resting place of some of Suffolk’s most prominent black citizens from the late 1800s.

And finally, a prayer team visited each of the other sites to pray with volunteers.

“It’s a way for us to get into the community,” Ventura said. “This was a successful thing last year, so we decided to do it again.”

At the yard sale, anyone who needed items they couldn’t afford was allowed to just take them.

On First Avenue, Peggy Luter watched as a team of volunteers repaired her front porch.

“These people are wonderful,” said Luter, a member of West End who also contributed as part of the sewing team. “I appreciate these people. I told them I would like to be up there hammering.”

Part of the wood on her porch had been rotting, she said. The team decided the best course of action was to replace the entire porch. They also offered to come back and stain the wood, she said.

“This is just a very small way that our churches can express our ministry into the community,” church member Jack Stoughton said during a break from repairing the porch. “It’s a great ministry.”

On Sunday, the two churches planned to meet for worship at Suffolk Presbyterian, with Dr. Chester Brown, interim pastor of West End, delivering the message.