COVINGTON — Pastor Kirby Ownby of Mount Olive (South) Baptist Church in Knoxville recently went on an exploratory trip to West Tennessee to explore opportunities related to Blue Oval City.
Ownby said Mount Olive would “love to partner with a new church plant” in the Blue Oval City area in the future.
Meanwhile, after meeting with Mike Melton, pastor of Charleston Baptist Church, Stanton, and Clay Gilbreath, director of missions for Big Hatchie Baptist Association, he learned of an immediate need the church could become involved with in Covington.
Covington is still recovering from a tornado which hit the town at the end of March this year, causing catastrophic damage to area businesses and the local middle and elementary schools, Gilbreath said.
Crestview Middle and Crestview Elementary are currently meeting in temporary structures until the schools are able to return to permanent facilities in about two years, the DOM added.
When Ownby learned about the schools affected by the tornado, he immediately asked what the church could do to help the schools.
“We have several teachers in our church, and we have a heart for teachers and children,” the pastor affirmed.
“We wanted to do something to bless and encourage the teachers,” he added.
Gilbreath checked with the principals at both schools and both were open to having Mount Olive come and provide an evening meal for teachers who stayed after school for parent-teacher conferences, scheduled for Oct. 23-24.
The church had recently bought a KOW (Kitchen on Wheels) and they decided to take it to Covington on its maiden voyage, Ownby said.
Ownby and seven other volunteers from Mount Olive provided meals and gave the teachers some small gifts at both schools. The church provided all the food and paid for their own expenses, he noted.
“Every teacher and principal was so grateful,” he said.
Kyle Simmons, principal of Crestview Elementary School, said the school “is so grateful for pastor Kirby Ownby and the church family of Mount Olive Baptist Church. They reached out several weeks ago with the desire to serve our school.
“They drove all the way from Knoxville to be a blessing, providing dinner to our entire faculty. This has been a challenging school year for our teachers, but we are so thankful for great people from our communities and others that invest in our teachers and students.”
Ownby noted it was a huge blessing to encourage the Covington teachers who have been working in unusual circumstances since the tornado.
“They are working with the next generation,” Ownby observed.
“They have more face time with students than most church staffs. If they can be a godly influence, then it is our privilege to serve them.”
Some of the Mount Olive members want to come back and do something for the teachers and schools at Christmas, the pastor said.
“We are planning to come back. We are thankful God has given us the opportunity to encourage Baptists on the western side of the state.”
Ownby added that Mount Olive members believe in cooperation. “We just want to minister where we can. Where people are hurting is where God has called us to be,” he said.
Gilbreath expressed his appreciation for the church. “It’s hard to express the gratitude and joy of feeling blessed that a church from the other side of the state would come to Covington. They saw a need and felt led by the Lord to meet that need.
“That’s the way we, as Baptists, work best,” Gilbreath said. B&R