The receiving line for the "Thanksgiving Food Giveaway" on Nov. 24, 2020, began at the church's Family Life Center and extended all the way in front of Oakwood University’s Ashby Auditorium (gymnasium). [Photo Courtesy of Oakwood University]

General Conference

Oakwood University Church Provides COVID-19 Testing and Other Community Needs

A brief report from the Adventist Church on the campus of Oakwood University

United States | North American Division

The Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama, which has a history of reaching out to its community in a variety of ways, has engaged in community service in extra-special ways since the COVID-19 pandemic started earlier this year.

The church is making a difference in Huntsville. In fact, when they had their major "Thanksgiving Food Giveaway" on Nov. 24, 2020, the receiving line began at the Oakwood Family Life Center and extended all the way to the front of Oakwood University’s Ashby Auditorium.

"Ellen White’s book, The Ministry of Healing, clearly outlines Christ’s method of reaching people," said Carlton P. Byrd, senior pastor of the Oakwood University Church, and speaker/director of the Breath of Live TV Ministries, in an e-newsletter. “She wrote that we should 'win their confidence and then bade them follow Jesus.' When we engage in community ministry, this is what we’re seeking to do.”

This month alone, the church is offering COVID-19 testing, warm blanket collection and distribution, a prayer ministries conference call, and senior art class on Zoom. "Because we want to continue to meet the needs of our community residents, we’re going to have two Community Engagement Ministry Initiatives this week," said Byrd.

The church, in partnership with Huntsville Hospital, provided COVID-19 testing in the church's rear parking lot on the morning of Dec. 8, 2020, on a first-come, first-served basis. "The escalating number of coronavirus cases globally (and here in Madison County) engenders our desire to meet the societal need for testing. We encouraged our members to [share the testing information] in order to fully utilize this free service as persons without health insurance are not charged, and persons with health insurance are not charged a copay."

Additionally, the church wants to bring relief to those who are struggling to remain warm during the winter months so a blanket donation drive was held on Dec. 7, 9, and 11.

Continuing Church Activities

While community service activities continue to help neighbors, Oakwood University Church is also ministering to its members' needs. In addition to Friday evening and Sabbath worship services, young adult worship opportunities are held each week and university students are encouraged to attend online. 

During the Dec. 4 Prayer Ministries Conference Call, prayer wasn't the only item that was scheduled. Participants also studied the first chapter of The Ministry of Healing. Adventurer and Pathfinder Club meetings continued on Zoom. And on Dec. 6, a Zoom photography class was held for seniors. The Grief Support Group also met as scheduled in December.

This article was originally published on the North American Division’s news site

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