Church provides food, shoes to underprivileged in community
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
SILVER POINT — What began as a youth Sunday School class project 17 years ago has developed into an annual tradition at Silver Point Baptist Church, a rural congregation of about 75 people in Putnam County.
Christmas in Silver Point is now looked forward to every year by both the congregation and residents of the community, according to church leaders.
Christmas in Silver Point has continued to grow, said Pastor Tony Crow, who has been in that role for 11 years. He was a deacon and member of the church before being called as pastor. “We want to open our doors to the community and let them see Christ in us,” he said.
It began with simple refreshments and has grown each year since, the pastor recalled.
Glenna Vincent taught that Sunday School class which consisted of about five members who were active and eager to serve. She recalled that those youth were eager to minister then and that they have become amazing adults. Two of them served at the latest event.
“God laid His roots and we kept going,” Vincent said. “It has grown into a wonderful event.”
A few years ago the church worked out an agreement with Shoe Sensation, a shoe store in Cookeville, to purchase name brand, quality shoes at a discount, Crow said. In addition to Christmas, they also sponsor a shoes giveaway prior to the beginning of school each year.
He noted a representative of the shoe store said the church has given away more than 1,000 pairs of shoes during the last few years.
Julie Lusk, an employee of Shoe Sensation, said her company is involved because “we love to see these kids have shoes.”
Crow is grateful for the shoe store. “It’s been amazing how they have been able to work with us,” he said.
Church member Travis Little, who was one of the youth involved with the ministry since its start, agreed. The store brought out more than 200 pairs of different kinds of shoes and sizes to the most recent Christmas in Silver Point on Sunday, Dec. 10. The event was held at the Silver Point Community Center which enables the church to reach more people.
Approximately 400 people attended this year’s event on Dec. 10 and the church provided nearly 100 pairs of shoes to children of all ages. Approximately 50 of the church’s members were involved in the day’s festivities.
“For some families, these are the only shoes their children will have,” Crow observed.
“We want to let the community know God loves them and that we love them,” Little added.
“You don’t realize how much need there is in your own community until you look out your own door,” Crow related. “It’s important to meet the needs in our community. If not, then we’re missing the true meaning of missions,” he said.
In addition to the shoe ministry, the church provides refreshments and activities for the children, including an opportunity to visit Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and one of their reindeer. While the children are occupied the parents can visit the prayer tent to share concerns and hear the gospel. When they leave, families are also given a box of food for the holidays.
Crow is grateful that Silver Point values missions. In addition to the Christmas event, the church also sponsors a Back to School event (which also provides free shoes) and participates in a local food bank to feed hungry families. The church also has sent missions teams to Montana and Africa.
Joe Wiles, director of missions for Stone Baptist Association and a former pastor at Silver Point, attended the event. “It’s a community thing,” Wiles said, adding that Crow is “a community pastor.”
Keith Hayes, who brought his family to Christmas in Silver Point and received shoes for his three children, expressed appreciation for the church’s ministry. “It means a whole lot to be able to get these shoes. I’m just grateful for it.”
The ministry is funded by the church with help from grants and donations, including one this year from the Tennessee Baptist Foundation.
“The Foundation is truly delighted to partner financially with Silver Point this year on this strategic, evangelistic outreach to its community,” said Chris Kelly, executive vice president for TBF.
“As a ministry tasked with managing funds for Kingdom causes, we love being able to make such a direct connection with the hands and feet of ministry in reaching people for Christ.”
Kelly said Silver Point received the grant from the Foundation’s Special Projects Grant ministry, a program begun by the Foundation in 1995 that has deployed approximately $1.1 million in support of Tennessee Baptist churches, institutions, and causes since its inception. It is a program available to all Tennessee Baptist churches.
“We’d love to have more opportunities to partner like this,” Kelly added. Information about the Special Projects Grant program can be found on the Foundation’s website at www.tbfoundation.org.
Though the church and others are involved, Crow stressed that it is God who has made Christmas in Silver Point a success.
“Through God’s help and God’s power we have seen the event grow. We are just the tools. He empowers us to do it and we are blessed to be a part of it,” the pastor said.