Churches combine for donations to clinic

Published 11:05 pm Friday, May 31, 2019

Five churches of different denominations came together in a 2019 Passion Week collaboration to donate $3,000 to the Western Tidewater Free Clinic.

New Bethany Christian United Church of Christ of Smithfield, Diamond Grove Baptist Church, Christian Home Baptist Church of Windsor, Campbell’s Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Smithfield and Little Bethel Baptist Church combined to make the donation at the Free Clinic last week.

Free Clinic Board Chairman Bob Fry said the clinic was grateful to the churches for their support.

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“Thanks to your churches, you have changed the lives of almost three of our patients for a whole year,” Fry said. “Your combined donation covers their annual cost of care, currently $1,200 per patient, and allows them access to critical, comprehensive care.”

The 2019 Passion Week collaboration nearly doubled the amount from the churches’ last donation in 2016, according to the Free Clinic.

Pastor Wendell Waller of Christian Home Baptist Church said when the denominations come together, they leave their differences at the door and try to help the community however they can.

“I do think that it’s a great demonstration of what happens when people come together for a particular cause,” Waller said. “We’ve been able to do this with the community of churches, and we look forward to doing this every year.”

Free Clinic Director of Development Ashley Greene said the faith-based community is critical in providing financial donations through such special events, in-kind donations of kitchen and office supplies, as well as donations of time from church members who volunteer at the Free Clinic.

“One of the reasons we selected the Free Clinic is because some members of our churches have benefited from the Free Clinic,” Waller said. “We just wanted to do what we could to partner with them and help their mission.”

The support, she said, helps the Free Clinic translate every dollar donated into nearly $7 in patient services.

Waller said the Passion Week collaboration grew out of a community-wide Thanksgiving service with Christian Home Baptist Church, Little Bethel Baptist Church and Diamond Grove Baptist Church before extending their joint fellowship to Passion Week. He said they raised the money for the Free Clinic through a Palm Sunday concert by the choirs from the five churches, which collected money at the performance in addition to each church making a separate donation.

Waller said the churches try to select an organization each year that touches the communities in which the churches are located. Those have included organizations such as the ForKids shelter, the Salvation Army, the Genieve Shelter and the American Red Cross.

“We try to do something that touches our community,” Waller said. “It really adds hands and feet to the gospel message.”

Free Clinic Executive Director Chet Hart said it is honored that the faith-based community came together across denominations to lend their support.

“This is truly an example of neighbors helping neighbors,” Hart said, “to make their own community healthier for everyone.”