Small group, big call
by Carl N. Miller
HARVEY, MI – Our church is small, just 22 members, but the heart of our people is meeting the needs of others.
But no matter the size of the congregation, there are many things you can all do to serve God, one another, and your community. Harvey Baptist Church is entirely lay-led, unpaid volunteers from the worship team, to audio visual workers, leaders in every area, maintenance and janitorial staff, office and kitchen workers, and pastor.
2020 was a challenging year for individuals and churches everywhere. We closed for a month, spending one of those Sunday’s cutting and piling wood for a family with medical issues. Many of our ladies provided meals for families with various needs.
But soon our people began asking if we could not meet since we had plenty of room to social distance. So, while many larger churches were still closed, we began to meet every Sunday. Yes, we still have some families who continue to self-isolate, but most feel the need to worship our Lord together.
Many give to our Dollar-A-Week account where we encourage those who can, to put a dollar or more a week into a jar. This money has helped pay rent for a lady hospitalized, bought food for many, aided in medical expenses, paid some dental and medical bills, and provided a variety of ministries. In 2019 we gave out $1,721 and in 2020 an amazing $6,328.
We have collected money in baby bottles for the local Care Clinic with $1,236 raised in 2020. This helps meet the needs of pregnant moms, counseling, etc.
We are actively involved in helping the Gideons provide Bibles for local hotels and other ministries. In 2019 we provided $2,035 and in 2020 it reached $2,435.
In 2019, we packed 172 Christmas shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse, and this past year we had 106.
We provide a Thanksgiving Meal to those in our community every year around Thanksgiving. We usually have 75 people attend. Of course, we had to change plans this year and only serve those we have immediate contact with. Tables were set up where families sat together, and our Hostess,Sonja Hiller, arranged 3 servers to keep everyone safe. We had a much smaller group of about 30 but the fellowship was invaluable.
In early December for the last several years, we have had a Kid’s Christmas Shopping Day. Up to 50 kids can sign up. Our people purchase gifts during the year, or give money for gifts so each child can bring a list of 8 family members they want to shop for. A shopper is assigned to each child, and areas are set up to wrap the gifts. The kids are served pizza and juice and have a place for crafts and games. There is absolutely NO charge.
Obviously, this was a challenge this year, but kids have had so many disappointments that we felt we had to work something out. So, we extended our shopping hours to last from noon to 4:00. This allowed us to have kids come by family every half hour. No food or games were provided. We cut our workers down from 32 to 8 (and they worked hard!). Each worker took a child shopping and wrapped their gifts. We were able to provide for 27 children.
Our congregation is small. And like so many Michigan churches, the challenges have been big. But that has not stopped our call to serve our community and to be a witness for Jesus Christ.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carl N. Miller has served as volunteer pastor of Harvey Baptist Church in Harvey, Michigan in the beautiful Upper Peninsula since 2013. He is married to Leafa Miller who is a wonderful partner in the ministry. He loves the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the church's location on the south side of beautiful Marquette.