By David Dawson
FRANKLIN — From pumpkin pies to flip-flops to trash bags, ClearView Baptist Church, Franklin, is using all kinds of items to meet needs in the community.
Looking to make a difference in the lives of those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, ClearView has joined forces with a host of local organizations to distribute food, household items, footwear and other things to those who need it most.
ClearView mission director Kim Margrave said the church has a heart for the community, and has been especially focused on making an impact for Christ during these challenging days.
“Our folks sincerely want to be a part of helping our community,” said Margrave. “We talk a lot here at ClearView about finding your purpose — what is it that God has put you on the planet for? So, it has been a great learning opportunity for us to find these needs and start being a part of the solution. At ClearView, we often say that missions is a person, not a project or an event on the calendar. ”
Partnering with organizations such as GraceWorks, One Gen Away, Room at the Inn and several others, the members at ClearView have been a part of projects and ministries that have included: supplying paper towels, cereal and trash bags to the Tennessee Baptist Childrens Home; distributing 450 flip-flops to the Williamson County Department of Children’s Services; providing pumpkin pies to the Franklin Police Department; and providing toilet paper, diapers, vegetables and two-liter drinks, among other items, to various groups.
ClearView connections pastor John Garner said ClearView’s focus on the community started even before the effects of the pandemic took hold.
“At the first of last year, before COVID, we adopted a missions strategy that we call ‘Give Us Franklin,’ ” said Garner. “We asked the Lord to show us ways we could genuinely impact Franklin with the gospel through service. We also hired Kim (Margrave) as missions minister. God was getting us ready.
“When the COVID fear and restrictions became a reality, our staff met to decide how we would handle the situation” said Garner. “It was decided after much prayer and deliberation that we would not let COVID deter us from our Give Us Franklin mandate. From that time until now, we have been excited to see the many doors God has opened to help us impact Franklin and beyond.”
Margrave noted that God’s timing, as always, was perfect.
“We were hearing from our local partners — such as GraceWorks and One Gen Away, who serve the community through food and household items — that they needed help collecting items,” said Margrave.
In the spring, the church started doing what it called “drive-through drop-offs.” During designated hours, members would come by the church and donate the items, which would be placed into another vehicle and delivered later that same afternoon.
Several months later, in June, when ClearView restarted its on-campus gatherings, the church began doing a monthly collection. Margrave noted that the church averaged about 45 cars a week coming through the drive through.
Garner said the recent ministries have enhanced ClearView’s tradition of being a church that is connected to — and cares for — its community.
“Since its founding, ClearView has been a serving church,” said Garner. “However, because of what everyone in our community has faced with COVID, God’s Spirit has given us a larger heart for the needs around us. … When a church truly serves others and gets outside itself and when members serve others and get outside themselves, God honors them both.”
In the weeks ahead, ClearView will once again be partnering with Room in the Inn — an organization that provides programs that emphasize human development and recovery and offer long term support for homeless individuals. Margrave said that ClearView’s partnership with Room in the Inn dates back nearly three decades.
“It’s a ministry that has mobilized so many of our members — and they serve in so many different ways,” Margrave said.
Margrave said that, due to the pandemic, Room in the Inn has had to make some adjustments to its normal procedures. “We are still doing Room at the Inn, but it looks very different than previous years,” she said.
Margrave said she has been excited and encouraged to see ClearView being enthusiastically dedicated to making a difference in the Franklin area — and beyond.
She noted that generosity has been seen again and again.
For instance, when ClearView collected after-school snacks for Franktown (an organization that ministers to at-risk children and families), the church collected enough snacks to last from August through November. And when the church collected flip-flops for the Williamson County DCS, they collected so many that Williamson County was able to give some of the shoes to other counties.
“It’s been great to watch ClearView joining with these local partners to meet needs,” Margrave said.
Garner agreed, and said he has sensed a spirit of excitement among the church body.
“Many of our members look forward to the next time they can serve by giving some of what God has given them — physically or spiritually,” he said.
Garner said the spirit of teamwork has been on display.
“An unintended consequence to our missions emphasis has been a growing sense of unity and focus on the mission of the church,” Garner said.
“Any time you serve alongside another person a special bond is formed. Whether it is taking pies to the police headquarters, or hosting homeless men at your church on cold nights, or tutoring at the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home, when you serve together your heart is knit to your fellow servants in a deep and lasting way.”
Garner said he has been excited to see the church face these challenging days with such determination.
“COVID has not stopped ClearView from being the light in the darkness,” he said. “We are encouraged and strengthened by the response of our members and the agencies and individuals we have served.
“COVID did not surprise God,” he said. “Little did we know last year when we came up with ‘Give Us Franklin’ that God was preparing us for what He knew would be coming. The world was sent reeling with fear and bewilderment.
“ClearView was prepared to ‘take courage’ and to live out God’s call to serve with strong hands in perilous times,” he said. B&R