Yesterday I attended a luncheon at F&M Bank about the People Helping People ministry. A couple of weeks before one of our members had run into Tim Pettus, the bank president, and told him about the ministry. Tim serves on the board of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and wanted to get us together with their director. He felt like they may have some grants that could help us fund the ministry. So I put it on the calender.
A week before the event Jim Kitchen called and said I needed to share a few words at the luncheon. No problem. I’ll just wing it. It will only be a handful of people and a fairly informal setting. When I arrived at the bank yesterday there were lots of suits in the room and about 30-35 folks gathered. Tim met me at the door and handed me a program. He said I would be speaking first. I took the program and scanned the list below my name. There was the City Mayor, Director of the Columbia Housing Authority, Past President of Habitat for Humanity, County Mayor, City Councilwoman, Chief of Police, Maury County Sheriff and the Executive Director for the THDA. Gulp. Maybe I should have prepared a little something.
I just told them a little about the ministry and what our vision was for the east side of Columbia…to partner with other churches and non-profit organizations to revitalize our community through home renovations. I explained our vision of being a church that “serves the community in which we live” and how we wanted to “transform entire neighborhoods by renovating one house at a time.” I’m sure I didn’t say it that concisely off the cuff but that was the gist.
Then the leaders of these various organizations and government agencies talked about how they had the same goal. They want to see the neighborhoods revitalized so that it would be safe for residents to walk the streets again, children could play in the yards and people could take pride in their community. Turns out that was the point of the luncheon. Tim’s motivation was to get all the groups together to show that we share a similar vision and that within us are the resources to make it happen. He proposed a “what if” scenario. What if the local government, police departments, non-profits, banks, businesses and churches could actually come together and work toward a common goal? What could we accomplish in our community if we all pulled together and no one cared who got the credit? I think we’d be surprised.
So he challenged us to get more banks involved, more community leaders involved and more churches involved and let’s become an example to the nation of how one community pulled together and transformed their city. Is that an idealistic dream? Certainly. But what if?