SAVANNAH — With only two months to go before the opening session of the Georgia Baptist Convention annual meeting Nov. 14-15 at Calvary Baptist Church, churches are in high gear in assembling backpacks for children in Appalachia.
Georgia Baptist Mission Board state missionary Frank Nuckolls is anticipating another massive collection from churches who see the ministry as an evangelistic opportunity to make a difference for eternity in one of the nation’s poorest regions.
Last year Georgia Baptists donated a record 31,396 backpacks, easily exceeding the 25,000 goal. This year’s goal has been set at 30,000, Nuckolls said.
Last year those donations of school supplies, warm winter coats, gender specific Christmas presents, and copies of the Christmas story resulted in 1,317 professions of faith.
“These backpacks provide a wonderful means to meet both the physical as well as spiritual needs of the children and their parents. They are the only gifts that many of these children will ever receive during the Christmas season,” the state missionary noted.
Nuckolls said that the Mission Board, which is coordinating the efforts of the churches, has already received nearly 20,000 commitments by registering their intentions online. Of course, many others will appear at collection sites without having registered, which is acceptable.
“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.
Resources available online
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.
Backpacks can be dropped off at the Georgia Baptist Convention meeting in Savannah at Calvary Baptist Temple, at 4625 Waters Ave., or at any of six regional collection sites. Those sites include:
- Augusta Mission Center (Augusta Baptist Association) at 2877 Lumpkins Road in Augusta, on Monday through Wednesday, Oct. 24-26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donors must contact Gail Griner at (706) 736-8705 prior to arrival at this location.
- Cross Roads Baptist Church, Carnesville (Exit 164 off of I-85, Tugalo Baptist Association), 16144 Hwy. 59, Monday through Wednesday, Nov. 7-9, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
- First Baptist Church of Lyons (Daniell Association) 144 S. Washington St., Lyons, Monday through Tuesday, Nov. 7-8, 9 a.m. through 5 p.m.
- First Baptist Church of Jonesboro (Southside Baptist Network), 151 W. Mill Street, Jonesboro, Tuesday through Thursday, Nov. 8-10, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Gordon Memorial Baptist Association, 373 Morrow Road SE, Calhoun, Tuesday through Thursday, Nov. 8-10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Northside Baptist Church of Tifton, 4605 Murray Ave., (229) 382-6855. Monday through Wednesday, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 9 a.m. to 12 noon.
Some associations, as well as several churches such as Flat Creek Baptist Church in Fayetteville, have registered their collection goals online but will deliver their backpacks to ministry sites identified by ARM. Flat Creek plans to distribute their backpacks in Mountain City, TN on Dec. 10.
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.