By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — Rusty Sumrall said the momentum continues to build for City Reach Nashville.
In the weeks ahead, he is hopeful the excitement will transform into action.
“We have 30 churches across Tennessee who have shared interest in coming to Nashville,” said Sumrall, executive director of the Nashville Baptist Association. “So, now we need these churches, and other churches, to make the commitment to come.”
City Reach Nashville is one phase of a five-part initiative designed and implemented by the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
The ministry, first envisioned by TBMB executive director and president Randy C. Davis, involves a missions partnership with the five metro associations in Tennessee — Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, and Clarksville — and was created as a means of reaching Tennessee for Christ by concentrating on those five major cities.
TBC volunteer missions specialist Kim Margrave said those who participate in City Reach have an opportunity to fulfill the Acts 1:8 mandate by taking the good news of Christ “to the ends of the earth.”
“If you want to do an international trip, you don’t need a passport. Just come to Nashville,” said Margrave. “The world is literally coming to Tennessee — and they are bringing their values and beliefs with them.”
The City Reach campaign, which was officially launched last year in Knoxville, will focus on each of the five primary cities for a period of two years, including some overlapping stretches.
City Reach Knoxville runs through later this year, and City Reach Nashville, which began in January, runs through the end of the next year. After that, the focus shifts to Memphis for 2019-20, followed by Chattanooga in 2020-21, and Clarksville in 2021-22.
According to recent data, 70 percent of Tennessee’s entire population lives in those five cities.
“(The five City Reach cities are) a huge mission field in one concentrated area,” said Margrave.
Through the City Reach ministry, volunteers — including both teams and individuals — are “assigned” to different projects around the designated area of the primary city. The projects range from helping with Vacation Bible School to prayerwalking to working with children’s camps, and numerous other services.
Sumrall said anyone who is interested in participating in City Reach Nashville, regardless of skill set, will be welcomed. “We have a place for everybody,” he said.
Those interested in being involved can contact Mark Harvey (firstname.lastname@example.org), who is serving as the Nashville coordinator.
“We have 17 requests for teams from our NBA churches,” said Sumrall. “Several of the requests are for multiple weeks, so we have more than 20 projects total.”
The impacts of City Reach have clearly been felt in Knoxville. More than 500 people have been involved in projects in Knox County since the campaign was launched, Margrave said. She noted that a total of 25 teams have served in Knoxville thus far.
“Through City Reach Knoxville, there are many opportunities for a church to be on mission,” said Phil Young, director of missions for Knox County Association, “and to help address (the) very specific needs in Knox County.”
Young encourages churches across Tennessee to “make a Kingdom difference right here in Knox County as the church on God’s mission.”
Likewise, the needs for City Reach teams is great in Nashville.
Woodmont Baptist, for instance, is asking for a team to come to help with VBS, and Covenant Baptist has asked for prayerwalking teams to visit the 30 neighborhoods around their church. Also, Unity Baptist, in South Nashville, is hoping to reach internationals through camps, and the church needs help staffing the camps.
These are just a few of the many needs that can be met through City Reach.
“The opportunities run the entire gamut,” said Margrave.
Many of the projects associated with City Reach Nashville will take place during the summer months.
Sumrall said he believes City Reach can have a life-changing impact — on both believers and non-believers — if churches will rally around the purpose of the campaign.
“The potential for partnerships between churches is one of the most exciting aspects,” he said. “Also, the great potential of impacting lostness in Nashville, especially among the many nations we have represented here.”
Sumrall said City Reach Nashville will be an eye-opening experience for many of those involved, including those who are doing hands-on work and those who are praying for the ministry.
“(It has) the potential of raising the awareness of all Tennessee Baptists to the diversity and the lostness in our major Tennessee cities,” he said.
Margrave said the City Reach ministry represents an opportunity for Christians to embrace the Great Commission.
“It’s what I call the nuts and bolts of missions,” said Margrave. “It’s just about getting in there and doing it and connecting with people.”