Schools Get Boost from Inasmuch
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!!
Phil Roy of First Baptist served as the Coordinator for the United event. He reported to the School Board that volunteers from the churches spread 989 wheelbarrows of mulch (ministerially speaking) at 3 area schools, painted bleachers at one school and lawn letters at another.
Lisa Crowder, a teacher at Brown Intermediate School, but not a member of any of the churches involved in Inasmuch United Sweetwater, works with the Environmental Team at her school. She said: “Our school got a big boost from the church volunteers giving so much of their time to help make our campus attractive for the community.”
Janie Dacus, Chair of the Sweetwater City Board of Education praised the churches: “The Sweetwater City School System is so appreciative of the labor of love shown through your program, INASMUCH. The clean ups and improvements made at our schools saved us man power and money. It was heartwarming to watch people from several churches working side by side for a common goal of helping others.”
“Often churches are perceived by their community to be islands of special interest or, worse, sources of criticism for local schools,” says David Crocker of Operation Inasmuch. “But when those churches mobilize their members to reach out to the schools with no strings attached, the gap between the two is bridged and effective working relationships are fostered.” Other ways churches have served local schools is painting and cleaning, serving a special lunch to faculty and staff, and assisting with afterschool activities. Crocker adds: “May the spirit of Sweetwater, Tennessee blow afresh across this land creating more unity at a time when it is in short supply in America.”