The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, consisting of approximately 50,000 churches in all 50 states. A key component of the Southern Baptist identity is a commitment to serve one’s neighbors by actively addressing social service needs on both local and international levels. With few exceptions, these service initiatives are independently funded and facilitated entirely by Southern Baptists who voluntarily give of their money, time, and talents.
The particular needs and the methods employed to meet those needs are wide-ranging. Domestic initiatives include services that address hunger, poverty, homelessness, adoption and foster care, disaster relief, health care, human trafficking, community service, children and students’ needs, counseling and addiction recovery, pregnancy support, ministry to prisoners, and needs of refugees and immigrants. These efforts also extend globally. Southern Baptists coordinate to meet needs such as hunger and disaster relief in countries across the world.
Numerous examples can be given to show the tangible results of these service initiatives. A few highlights include:
- New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, CA operates a non-profit food pantry. In 2014, this food pantry served more than 12,000 households. The pantry’s specific programs provided a monthly community distribution of food for about 5,000 households, about 4,500 hot meals for the homeless, homebound, and disabled, and child nutrition programs at 13 sites after school and during the summer that served nearly 75,000 meals or snacks to children.
- The Journey church is St. Louis, Missouri is home to Mission: St. Louis, a non-profit that carries out initiatives such as the Affordable Christmas program, which provides affordable Christmas gifts for low-income families, serving more than 150 families and 600 children with help from over 1,200 volunteers in 2008 and 2009.
- “Southern Baptists have more than 1,550 mobile disaster response units on call for local, state, and national emergencies, with more than one hundred thousand trained volunteers scattered across the nation.” “In 2014, volunteers served a collective 59,583 days and provided 2.3 million hot meals to people directly impacted by natural disasters.”
- Internationally, in 2014, Baptist Global Response “administered 335 projects appropriating $8.4 million in almost 60 countries.” These efforts include water projects that benefitted 322,586 people, health assistance that served 123,000 people, and temporary housing after disasters for 2,972 people.
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