“A summer of service – to our youth and our community”
By: Tiffney Gipson
During any given summer, you can find the members of the Magazine St. Temple SDA Church hosting at least two activities, Vacation Bible School in mid-July and an annual Community Fest in mid-August. However, this summer Magazine decided to try something different. With the full support of Pastor Kennedy C. Luckett and the congregation, the Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM) Department in partnership with Magazine’s Youth Ministers decided to dedicate this summer to service. Service, not just directed toward the young people of Magazine but also for the youth and families in the surrounding community.
Magazine St. Temple SDA Church is located on the corner of 1942 Magazine St. in Louisville, KY. The church is part of the Russell Neighborhood which is a sect of Louisville’s west-end. It is no secret to the residents of Louisville that there is a negative connotation associated with this area. Positive happenings and uplifting stories seem few and far between while negatives like crime and violence seem to be on the rise. In fact, it was in late May of this year that a 6-year-old boy lost his life due to a stray bullet coming through the window of his home just mere blocks away from the Magazine St. Church. It is this type of senseless violence that rocked the city and seemed to ignite the flame for the church to be more of a presence in the Russell Neighborhood.
How can the church get involved? How can Magazine make a difference in this community? Led by Jermaine Bentley and assisted by co-leaders Judith Bentley, Kadia Turner, and Brittney Washington, the AYM Department seemed to have a few answers to those questions. Start by mobilizing the young people and getting them excited about the idea of community service, create a few programs outside of the norm, and finally wrap up the summer by hosting the biggest community service event that Magazine has ever seen. This may not solve the entirety of the issues in the community but it does begin to create a relationship between the community and the church. It also encourages members of Magazine to be the “salt and light in the community” that Pastor Luckett often preaches about.
To kickoff this summer of service, the AYM Department hosted their first ever outdoor movie night on July 15, 2017. Church members were asked to invite their friends and family, break-out their lounge chairs, and donate a case of juice per family to share. The AYM Department provided popcorn, coolers, and water. With a white tarp hoisted on the side of the church, a projector, and a couple of speakers a crowd of about 75 members and guests watched “The Prince of Egypt” on a beautiful Sabbath evening in the parking lot of Magazine.
(Pictured above: members and guests watching “The Prince of Egypt” in the parking lot of Magazine St. Church)
Every event this summer seemed to build off the other. To follow movie night, the next day Magazine hosted a snow cone event to promote registration for Vacation Bible School (VBS). Youth and adults of Magazine went to several different street corners promoting “Free Snow Cones for VBS”. Every person who registered on that day received a free snow cone provided by a local food truck. This event carried Magazine right into Vacation Bible School which took place July 17-21, 2017.
(Pictured above: AYM Council Member, Zaria Murrell assists two young people
of Magazine at the registration table during the free snow cone event for VBS registration)
(Pictured above right: Local food truck owners offer free snow cones to VBS registrants)
Over the summer, AYM leaders and youth ministers charged the youth to use their hands and feet differently. Whether that meant going out in the community to pass out flyers or taking time out on a Sunday to help families sign up for VBS, everything the youth did during the month of a July was leading up to an entire weekend of service to the community. On July 29th and 30th, Magazine hosted a “Back-to-School Extravaganza”. This event was put on by the AYM Department, Youth Ministers, and the young people of Magazine.
The young people were at the forefront of the program that day, leading out in the abbreviated morning worship service where members received a riveting call to action from Youth Minister Jermaine Bentley. Morning worship was followed by a prayer breakfast and then some instructions on the remainder of the day. Members were invited to participate in one of ten community service activities. Proudly wearing their “Jesus SWAG” (Serve, Worship, and Glorify) t-shirts, a design chosen by the youth of Magazine, members were asked to think about how they were using their hands and feet as they moved about the community on that day.
To make this a social movement, members were asked to take photos of the activities they were involved in during the day and use the hashtags “#magazinehandsandfeet” and “#JesusSwag” to post updates to their social media accounts. They were also encouraged to tag the church’s Facebook (@MagazineStSDAChurch), Instagram (@MagazineAYM), or Twitter account (@MagazineStSDA) in their respective posts. The goal of this was twofold. First, if anyone searches those hashtags on any social media outlet they will be able to see what was done and hopefully be inspired. Secondly, it created a great way to collect the memories of that day. Since the members were broken up into 10 different groups across the community, collecting photos and displaying them at the end of the day gave everyone a chance to see the full scope of the project.
Community service activities for that day included free hair braiding led by Judith Bentley, free haircuts led by Fred Parker, a clothing/toy drive led by Kadia Turner, nursing home visits led by Dawn Parker, feeding of the homeless led by Helene Rowan, neighborhood cleanup led by Elder Jerome Bentley, bus stop blessings led by Jermaine Bentley, wellness checks led by Zaria Murrell, and pop-up prayer stations led by Elder William Robinson. Some of these events were held at Magazine or very close by, while other events were held within a 10-15-minute drive of the church. The goal of the day was to be a blessing to the community, to show them that Magazine was more than just a church on a corner in their neighborhood. The goal was to show that community that Magazine was there to uplift and care for them.
Following the community service activities and lunch, Magazine members gathered in the sanctuary for a wrap up session. When the question was asked “how did you use your hands and feet today?” just about everyone in the room had a testimony about their experience. Many lamented on how grateful they were for the opportunity to get out of the pews and do something different for the community. That evening during the vesper thought, Youth Minister Brandon Howard discussed the importance of using different “nets” to “catch” different people. Members were reminded that sometimes they must step out of their comfort zones and meet others just where they are to bring them to Christ.
The very next day Magazine heeded their own advice and cast a different net on the community. This time, church and community members were invited to participate in a back-to-school celebration which transformed the church parking lot into a large resource fair and playground. The theme of the day was “your future is so bright, gotta put your shades on!”
At the welcome and registration table, guests received passports which would serve as their roadmap for the day and tickets to receive food, back-to-school supplies, and to be entered for a chance to win hourly drawings.
The day was full of activities. Outside, guests could enjoy music and food, while children played on the inflatables, tossed around footballs with police officers, checked out a local firetruck, or got their faces painted. Inside of the church basement, guests could attend a career fair which consisted of about 25 local professionals, some of which were members of the church while others were guests from the community. There was also a free book giveaway sponsored by the Louisville Metro Police Department. Interaction was strongly encouraged during the demonstrations where guests were invited to engage in a few healthy activities to help get them up and moving.
By the end of the day, attendance had reached nearly 175 people. At the school supply station, 70 backpacks and 45 bags of school supplies were given out to community members. By the time the entire weekend was done 6 people were blessed with free hair braiding, 14 free haircuts were given, and the clothes closet was practically depleted. How do you measure the success of an event? Some might say by the number of attendees or by a return of profit, but in this case, one might say by the number of blessings received.
The hope of this summer of service was to be a help to the community and to the youth of Magazine. While that hope was achieved, it has also sparked a bigger discussion amongst the congregation about how they are serving their community. How are you using your hands and feet? Are you using them in an effort of service to Christ and your community? If not, then cast your net and give it a try, you may be surprised about where and how God leads you.
(Members of Magazine St. SDA Church gather together for a group photo showing off their “Jesus Swag,” Pastor & Mrs. Luckett right center third row from bottom)
(Pictured above from left to right: Magazine members Janette Theosnis, Ebony Bond,
Dominique Traynor, and Judith Bentley work in the hair braiding station.)
(Youth of Magazine standing on a popular bus stop near the church offering bus stop blessings of water, tracks, and prayer.)
(Pictured above: Magazine member, Sis. Crawford provides musical entertainment
for residents of the Christian Healthcare West Nursing Home.)
(Members of Magazine pray with community members at the pop-up prayer stations near the church)
(Pictured above from left to right: Zechariah Johnson, Monique Peacock, Jayda Branch, Amelia Rowan, and Maciah Murrell take a break from serving lunch to the residents of a local homeless shelter)
(A few members of Magazine work to pick up trash in the community surrounding the church.)
(Members of Magazine gather together with others in the community to close the Sabbath at the waterfront.)
(Community members stand in line to receive free school supplies during the “Back-to-School Extravaganza.)
(Members of the AYM Council Zaria Murrell, Dawn Parker, Kadia Turner,
Helene Rowan, Jermaine Bentley, Judith Bentley, and Brittiney Washington.)
(From left to right: Youth Ministers Brandon Howard, Tiffney Gipson, Brittiney Washington, and Jermaine Bentley
are just a small portion of the team that put on the “Back-to-School Extravaganza” weekend.)