Hand in hand with northern neighbors
May 31 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Hand in hand with northern neighbors | Friday, May 31, 2002

Friday, May 31, 2002

Hand in hand with northern neighbors

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

Imagine holding a "Back Yard Bible Club" in Central Park, doing "beach reach" on Staten Island, or assisting in a construction project where most members are American - but speak Polish.

These opportunities and more are available through N.C. Baptists' newest partnership - with the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association (MNYBA). Some Tar Heel Baptists participated in a partnership with the New York Baptist Convention during the early 1990s, and many others traveled to the "Big Apple" to assist in disaster recovery efforts following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

The new partnership builds on those foundations to confront needs in what is arguably America's most concentrated mission field, at a time when New Yorkers may be more receptive to the gospel than ever. "Sept. 11 opened doors we never had before," says Lisa Chilson-Rose, director of volunteers and partnerships for the MNYBA.

The MNYBA serves an area stretching from 50 to 100 miles in every direction from Times Square, including suburban Long Island, the lower Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey and southwestern Connecticut. New York City alone has a population of 7.5 million in the city's five boroughs, roughly equivalent to the total population of North Carolina.

The New York metropolitan area encompasses 21 million people, who come from 170 nations and speak at least 50 different languages. According to a brochure produced by the MNYBA, the area includes more Roman Catholics than Rome and as many Jewish people as in Israel, but no religion has majority status.

Baptists have been in New York for three centuries, but there are only a few large congregations. Most of the 231 churches affiliated with the MNYBA are either non-white or non-English, with an average membership of less than 100 people. About 20 percent of the congregations are white, 20 percent are black, 25 percent are Asian, 16 percent are Haitian and an equal number are Hispanic.

New York has been targeted as a "Strategic Focus City" by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which has just one church for every 34,562 people in New York City. On the island of Manhattan, there is one SBC church for every 109,128 people. Nelson Searcy, who formerly worked on North Carolina's Baptist State Convention staff, is leading the strategic focus effort.

Chilson-Rose, who worked with N.C. Baptist Men prior to becoming volunteer coordinator for the MNYBA, is heading up the partnership efforts in New York.

The NC/MNYBA partnership officially kicks off with a student-led "Deep Impact" project the week of July 21-28, but there are many other partnership opportunities.

Current mission requests include street witnessing, construction, teacher training, "servant evangelism," Vacation Bible School, Backyard Bible Clubs, sports camps and musical concerts.

Locations vary from poverty-ridden inner-city areas to affluent suburbs, and the ethnicity of the local churches runs the gamut. Most of the projects will assist local churches, while some will support church planting efforts.

For a list of partnership opportunities in New York, contact Dan Bivins of N.C. Baptist Men at (800) 395-5102 or (919) 467-5100, ext. 327, or go to www.ncmissions.org and click on the "International & Partnership" menu bar.

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5/31/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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