Volunteers offer 'Gateway to Hope' during Crossover St. Louis
ST. LOUIS (BP)--Southern Baptists will offer a "Gateway to Hope" June 7-9 as part of Crossover St. Louis, the 13th annual evangelism emphasis conducted prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
More than 81 local churches in seven associations had committed to participating in the effort as of mid-March, and recruitment is currently underway for hundreds of additional volunteers from other areas.
Benny King, executive director of the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, said Crossover St. Louis will kick off a summer-long evangelistic emphasis in the area under the banner of "Gateway to Hope."
Some of the highest-profile events during Crossover will be block parties, in which local churches and outside volunteers offer food, fun and entertainment in local communities -- along with an opportunity for individuals to hear and respond to the gospel. Forty-seven such events have been scheduled for Crossover.
Students from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will spearhead block parties in 20 mobile home communities and two high-rise apartment buildings, according to Bill Curp, director of missions for Jefferson Baptist Association.
Elsewhere, First Baptist Church of Maryville, Ill., will host up to 4,000 people at three separate block parties in nearby towns -- including one to be held in conjunction with the Village of Maryville's 100th anniversary.
"We felt this would create a less threatening environment and encourage more to attend," said Cindy Carnes, communications director for the 1,200-member church. "We are experiencing a very positive response from the community, staff and members."
Other church sponsored events include prayer journeys, door-to-door personal evangelism and evangelistic sports clinics for area children and youth. Also scheduled are entertainment-based street evangelism teams, inner-city personal evangelism, a ministry to night-club employees and dancers and a "Kindness Explosion" ministry that will give away bottles of cold water and other items along with a message of the hope found in Christ.
"We could use at least 400 more volunteers for the Kindness Explosion events alone," said King.
Also part of the Crossover effort is an advertising campaign focused primarily on evangelistic television commercials, sponsored jointly by the North American Mission Board and state Baptist conventions in Missouri and Illinois. Respondents to those ads and a direct-mail coupon will be offered a free "Jesus" video.
More than 25,000 people have made professions of faith through Crossover efforts since 1989, when messengers attending the annual meeting in Las Vegas first sought a way of making an impact on their host cities with the gospel.
For more information or to request a volunteer assignment with Crossover St. Louis, individuals or groups should contact Doyle Echols via email firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at (314) 569-1190, extension 305. Information also is available online on the Volunteer Mobilization Information System, volunteers.namb.net.
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