Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church sponsors back-to-school Community Day

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Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church sponsors back-to-school Community Day

By Felecia Piggott-Long, Ph.D.

More than 75 church members, children, parents, vendors, and community supporters attended the 28th annual back to school Community Day at Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church on Saturday, Aug. 19 from 10 a.m. until noon. Pastor William J. Purvis, Sr. was busy that morning helping to set up tents with other members. Purvis and First Lady Karen F. Purvis have been with the congregation for 32 years. The Greater St. Matthew Baptist (GCMB) planning committee organized the annual community day event.

The members of GSMB include President Johnnie Mae McLaughlin, Brenda McFarlin, Pallas Purvis, and Toni Cannon. Each year the gathering includes a cookout, school supply giveaway, vendors who provide various services to encourage good health habits and strong family building.

“We come together to support this Community Day because we believe that any church in the community should reach out to that community beyond the Sunday service,” said Pastor Purvis. “This is how they experience God’s love. We can’t help but reach out. There is such a great need. Times have changed. We have more single mothers, single parents, and we want to lend a hand.”

First Lady Karen Purvis and Willie Mae Gaddy prepared a table of personal items such as clothes and toiletries to give away in addition to the book bags and school supplies. “Everything is free. Every year we like to give out to the community. We have shorts, handbags, and other personal items. People are in need everywhere,” said Karen Purvis. “We want to do anything we can to help. This is what we as believers are here for. Church members donated these items to help families to stretch their food dollars.”

The GCMB planning committee organizes several events each year for the church. The purpose of the Community Day is to show God’s love to the community.

“We are a part of the whole community. We try to bring in vendors to provide resources for the families,” said Brenda McFarlin.

“We are here to provide service to God. This church is not just setting here,” said Pallas Purvis. “We are setting here for God’s purpose. We are all about doing God’s work.”

“We may not be large in number, but we are large in heart,” said Toni Cannon.

President Johnnie Mae McLaughlin enjoys supporting the efforts of the church that allow her to reach out into the community. “I pushed my way this morning because I wanted to see everybody. I love to see the community come together,” McLaughlin said. “We work together so well as a committee, and we love to serve the people.”

Minister Lora Smith represented Insight Human Services Prevention. This organization provides substance abuse prevention programs. She also had materials to show families how to lock up medicine to keep children safe and how to discard unwanted medicine. “It is not safe to just flush pills down the commode. This contaminates your water supply,” said Smith. “Today we are handing out containers to show parents how to dispose of medicine properly. We have lock boxes and drug deactivation supplies.”

Constance Baker was a vendor for the community day. She represented ObamaCare, Medicare and  life insurance. Firefighter Jeremy Graham, Engineer Joshua Noah and Captain Trevor Swicegood came out to speak to the families about fire safety and the career of a firefighter.

“As captain, I ride in charge. I plan and organize all calls as the supervisor. I make the decisions,” said Swicegood. “The engineer drives the truck and pumps the truck. This person is in charge over all equipment. If anyone takes something off the truck, the engineer needs to know. There are one to three firefighters on the back of the truck to provide patient care, check blood pressure, and to keep the rig clean. We work together to get the same job done.”

Nehemiah Green was out with his mother Shantise Green and his brother Jonathan celebrating his birthday. “A church member from Greater St. Matthew told me about the Community Day. I attend Holiness Life Ministries. We are having a birthday party today,” said Green. “We are going to the pool and we are getting ready for school. I am glad we found out about this event. Nehemiah will be going to Clemmons Middle School this year.”

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