Bringing out the Best: Center Hill Baptist reaches out to children, nursing home residents

Members of Center Hill Baptist Church keep their social distance while singing hymns outside Hanceville Nursing and Rehab Center Saturday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Hanceville Nursing and Rehab Center/Facebook)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Center Hill Baptist Church has been keeping itself busy during the pandemic shutdown. Last week, members spent two days distributing activity and gift bags to community children, placing leftovers in Hanceville’s Hope Pantry. On Saturday, a group from the congregation went to Hanceville Nursing and Rehab Center, set up a sound system in the parking lot and sang to the residents inside.

Pastor Heath Riggs and wife Angelyn Riggs talked to The Tribune Sunday afternoon about their church.

Angelyn Riggs said that the activity bags were the idea of member Angela Croswell, who works with the church’s youth ministry. The bags contained coloring books, crayons, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, snacks and Bible story books. Between distribution at the church and the Hope Pantry, Riggs estimated that the church gave away at least 75 bags.

Riggs said about the church’s visit to the nursing home, “That was kind of a group thinking, because there’s a lady from our church- her name is Teresa Jones, and she works at the nursing home- and she and I were talking, because I wanted to do something for the nursing home but didn’t know what we could do, you know, how could we reach out to them, because we knew we couldn’t go inside the nursing home . . . And she’s the one who said, ‘Well, why don’t y’all come sing outside the nursing home?’ So we loved that idea.”

While at the nursing home, the group set up first on one side of the building and then on the other, singing as a group. Deacon Richard Jesse read scriptures, and Heath Riggs led prayer.

The church is next planning another activity bag distribution, this time with an Easter theme, on the Saturday before Easter.

Why do it?

Heath Riggs answered, “You probably have seen it on Facebook, so I guess we’re all using this phrase, that the Church is not this building; you know, His sons and daughters, His people are the Church. We’re just trying to be the hands and feet. It all goes back to scripture and just trying to, even though all we can do is livestream now, we’re thinking about a drive-in: bring the church members in, in their cars and I’ll be out at the pavilion, and that kind of thing.

“But we’re just still trying to show that, during a pandemic like this- the coronavirus- that we can still minister and love on people, be the hands and feet of Christ.

“Again, we’ve got a beautiful building that God has blessed us with, but just like all the other churches, we’re the church, and so that’s what it’s about.”

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W.C. Mann