This is the eleventh of a dozen stories highlighting the upcoming Nov. 14-15 annual meeting of the Georgia Baptist Convention in Savannah. The stories are being published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through Nov. 11 and include both Convention-related content and a look at how the Savannah Baptist Association is making a Kingdom impact in Coastal Georgia.
SAVANNAH — Georgians are well-known for being a caring, loving people ready to help their neighbors in a time of need. That “can do” attitude is no more easier found than among the more than 1,200 Georgia Baptists who will descend on Savannah next week for their 195th annual meeting.
As they gather for their two-day meeting Nov. 14-15 at Calvary Baptist Church, many will come with cars loaded with Christmas backpacks for underprivileged children in Appalachia. As of this morning (Nov. 9), 25,893 backpacks had been pledged out of the 30,000 goal, said Georgia Baptist Mission Board State Missionary Frank Nuckolls.
Last year Georgia Baptists donated a record 31,396 backpacks, easily exceeding the 25,000 goal. The response from Georgia Baptist churches has grown considerably since the first 4,400 were collected in 2012 from a challenge issued by then-Convention President John Waters , pastor of First Statesboro.
Those donations of school supplies, warm winter coats, gender specific Christmas presents, and copies of the Christmas story resulted in the only real Christmas for many of the children.
“These backpacks provide a wonderful means to meet both the physical as well as spiritual needs of the children and their parents,” the state missionary noted.
Nuckolls said that in addition to those already pledged online, thousands others could easily be delivered to the convention site or area collection centers.
“About 3,000 children who received backpacks last year are already participating in the mail-in Bible study lessons administered through Appalachian Regional Ministries (ARM). The Georgia Baptist Mission Board partners with ARM, a ministry of the North American Mission Board, to identify sites where the backpacks are most desperately needed.
As a child completes a lesson, he or she mails their answers to ARM which grades the lesson and sends a new lesson. At the end of the program the child receives a free Bible.
Associations, churches or mission study groups are encouraged to register their collection efforts online at missiongeorgia.org by clicking in the “2016 Backpacks” link. The site will provide them with a variety of resources such as:
- Most Commonly Asked Questions and Answers;
- Two different lengths of a promotional video download;
- An attractive small color poster where a group can write in their goal and place the poster in a prominent traffic pattern location in the church; and
- Instructions on how to pack a backpack, along with detailed gift suggestions and what not to include (items that can be easily crushed or broken, perishable food, or knives).
The importance of registering online is that registrants will receive gender specific color-coded labels to attach to each backpack to distinguish its contents between boys and girls. Registrants will also receive a copy of The Christmas Story and the ARM Mailbox Club postcard for children to register for the Bible study lesson. Those items will need to be placed in each backpack, Nuckolls said.
Questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. If immediate assistance is needed, contact Nuckolls at (770) 936-5219. For general and logistics questions contact Patty Ficarra at (770) 936-5254; for general questions contact Emily Hill at (770) 936-5219 or Jackie Cooper at (770) 936-5222.