This article appeared on the front page of the Sunday edition of the Owensboro Messenger Enquirer written by Angela Oliver:
For churches to be effective, congregations must reach out, said the Rev. Kevin Brown, Owensboro District coordinator of Impact Kentucky.
"We have to get out of the church walls and out into the streets," he said.
Church groups and individuals will be able to do so with "Impact Kentucky: 100K," a day of community service led by the United Methodist Church on Aug. 24.
The Owensboro District is made up of Daviess, Henderson, McLean and Muhlenberg counties. The other Impact Kentucky districts are Bowling Green, Elizabethtown and Madisonville.
The Rev. Randy Jones, pastor of Woodlawn United Methodist Church, is the Daviess County coordinator.
"This is a special day because we're able to get things done that require big groups of volunteers," he said.
Last year's "Impact Kentucky: Hope Reigns" projects included repairs and cleaning in West Liberty and other areas affected by tornadoes.
Though Jones is awaiting confirmation for a few local projects, many are set. They include landscaping in the Mechanicsville neighborhood, Woodlawn's soup kitchen from 4:30 to 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 24, and a Habitat for Humanity build that is already in progress.
Several projects are also scheduled throughout the Owensboro District, such as packaging 100,000 meals for the Feed My Starving Children program and Methodist Hospital Health Fair in Henderson; repairing and sealing for a wheelchair ramp and deck and canvassing McLean County to speak with Hispanic residents about a future Hispanic ministry in Island; and a prayer team in Muhlenberg County.
Impact Kentucky grew from the UMC's Red Bird Missionary Conference. Since its founding in 1968, the conference has been based in and focused on southeastern Kentucky, offering food, clothing and health clinics, among other services.
"We all go to Red Bird and participate or donate to the great missions there," Brown said. "We're all aware of the poverty throughout eastern Kentucky, but there is poverty in western Kentucky that we can't ignore. The church can be a bridge to this part of the state."
"We've done some research to find the needs here," said the Rev. Mark Gibbons, superintendent of the Owensboro District. "The idea is to build long-term relationships in these communities. There are 1.1 million people in the four districts we talk about, and our goal is to help at least 100,000."
Jones, who was assigned to Owensboro in June 2012, said he's excited to see how Impact Kentucky will grow locally.
He recalled how he felt after years of similar efforts in his former home, Louisville. He ministered in what is now the Portland Promise Center, a UMC-based community center in the economically challenged, high-crime west side of city.
"It took a whole generation to change the cycle, but it happened there," Jones said. "Just like that, Impact Kentucky isn't a one-day mission. That's where it starts, but it's about changing the environment and making sure the change lasts."