Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself

Neighbors serving neighbors: Clifton Ministerial Alliance volunteers complete multitude of projects with Neighborhood Clifton April 24

CLIFTON – In the Bible, Luke 10:25-37 tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, with the well known phrase “Love thy Neighbor as thyself.”

With neighborly love in their hearts and chain saws, mowers, paint brushes, shovels, rakes, drills and a whole lot of other tools in their vehicles over 256 volunteers took to a multitude of projects in Clifton to help their neighbors in need of home project assistance. There were 11 locations and 79 homes on the list this year for the 26 crews to tackle. What an incredible way to close up National Volunteer Week with its theme “Volunteering is Empathy in Action.”

The group gathered at 8 a.m. at the Clifton Park Gazebo to be a part of the Clifton Ministerial Alliance Neighborhood Clifton event. Initiated by the Clifton First Baptist Church, the event started three years ago in an effort to help people through community service with home repairs, yard work, hauling brush, to building ramps for the disabled.

Clifton First United Methodist Church Pastor Mary Gean Cope said that other churches she connects with are envious of Clifton’s close knit, strong and caring community that holds respect for others. She tells them that in Clifton all churches are part of one body; that they form one team with playing different positions. Nearly all churches of the Ministerial Alliance had volunteers in the 26 crews around town. And the group of volunteers from all these different churches was a true and fine example of collaboration and unity, in Christ’s name.

“I have seen that in you in the past years,” Cope said. “You have that in you. And be thankful for the people you are helping. They are being a blessing to us as we bless them.”

In the parable Jesus told an expert in the law to be like the Good Samaritan in the parable who showed mercy of the robbed citizen, took him to an inn and paid for his care. Jesus told him “Go and do likewise.”

But before they set out for a morning of selfless assistance to others – a testimony and witness to those with a servant’s heart, showing the love of Christ – there was breakfast in the form of a variety of muffins. All 400 of them were made by Michelle Rearden. Because she is physically not strong enough for tough chores, this was her way of being neighborly and taking care of others.

Besides yard work, building ramps, clearing and hauling brush, mowing, painting curbs, light home repairs, tending to flower beds, there was a youth service project, packing food for the summer food program and a Ministerial Alliance food drive for the Clifton food bank. For the littlest ones, there were nurseries set up at a few churches.

The food drive also showed the willingness to help those less fortunate. Prior to the Neighborhood Clifton event, 590 pounds of food was collected. On the Sunday, another 1,715.5 pounds came in. And in the course of the week another 280 pounds came in – restocking the food pantry shelves with much needed items. Besides non-perishable food items the food pantry is also accepting much needed personal hygiene products like diapers, feminine hygiene products, shampoo, deodorant and baby wipes. Cooking oil, pancake and cake mixes and canned fruit still needed. In the spirit of feeding people who might be struggling to make ends meet, a group was serving eggs and sausage breakfast at the end of Avenue D.

There was also a large group of volunteers at the food bank community garden, installing a drip system and protective covers for the vegetable and flower beds.

It is coordinating Pastor of the Clifton Church of Christ Drew Ritchie’s dream that in the future the group will have so many requests for assistance that the event will take up more than one Sunday morning. He encourages people to sign up as early as February; and he emphasizes that you do not have to be part of a certain church to request assistance. And volunteers do not have to be bound to a certain church either.

Ritchie was very pleased with how the event went, and was happy to see that the volunteers were enjoying themselves in their work. It helped that the day was overcast.

“I don’t know all the people that signed up, and I have no idea what they’re capable of,” Ritchie said about dividing up the workers in different crews. “But it was great to hear when someone was a good addition to a certain team. It is a credit to the volunteers, but I felt God knew where the people needed to be and as such guided me.”

According to Ritchie, Neighborhood Clifton’s primary goals are to show church goers that serving their community is a way of doing church – he honestly believes that some congregation members would rather make themselves useful like this than sitting in a pew listening to a sermon; to bless the people in the community; and to demonstrate that “no matter what separates us, we are all united in Christ.”

“Neighborhood Clifton is a time for all the churches to come together in sharing the love of Christ in our community through service," Ritchie said.

But with that said, Ritchie hopes that organizations outside of churches, like schools and other civic organizations will join in serving their communities by helping others.

After a morning of worshiping God through works of service to their neighbors, the group came together for a joyous celebration of community as the volunteers gathered again at the gazebo for lunch – whether they brought their own or bought from Robbins Nest and Poke O’s food trucks.

Check out more photos on this link to the Clifton Ministerial Alliance Facebook https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=CliftonChurchofChristTX&set=a.8036420106375453 and for a compilation in a video with music: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064822747286&sk=videos

The next Clifton Ministerial Alliance event is Worship at the Mill, May 7 at 5 p.m. With the informal praise event, with food trucks and worship led by the worship band from Harris Creek Church in Waco, the Alliance hopes to attract younger people to worship.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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