“If you had a few more people and a little more funding, what would you do to reach your community?”
Dr. John A. Heading, project manager of Serve Tour Dayton, posed this question to pastors, church planters, public school officials, and community leaders throughout the Dayton region early this year while recruiting service projects for Serve Tour Dayton.
During the two-day event, almost 600 volunteers completed compassion projects in the Miami Valley from Franklin to Piqua. The volunteers came from seven states and forty-six churches, five universities and multiple community organizations. They completed thirty-five projects in churches, church plants, public schools, and community centers, blessing organizations with needed help and sharing the gospel as they served.
Serve Tour Dayton was a project supported at every level of Southern Baptist life. “Multiple SBC organizations partnered together to make Serve Tour happen,” said Heading. Send Relief, the compassion ministry arm of the International Mission Board (IMB) and North American Mission Board (NAMB), partnered with the State Convention of Baptist in Ohio (SCBO), the Greater Dayton Baptist Association (GDAB), and local churches to sponsor Serve Tour Dayton.
“Serve Tour Dayton would not have been possible without the combination of Cooperative Program dollars given from our churches and the collaboration between the SCBO, GDAB, and Send Relief,” said Dr. Jeremy Westbrook, SCBO executive director-treasurer. “These few days were a perfect reflection of cooperation in action. We’re not just better together, but we’re stronger together and therefore, we must cooperate together.”
The service projects of Serve Tour Dayton were as varied as the region itself. They included block parties, construction and painting projects, medical clinics, community outreach, community clean-up, and school projects
Volunteers, from preschool to senior adults, worked to serve area communities while sharing the love of Christ. “Our volunteers were excited to be in Dayton and excited to serve,” said Heading. Teams went beyond what was asked of them. Four construction teams worked overtime, and one team came back the day after Serve Tour Dayton to finish what they started.
Send Relief pioneered eight Serve Tour events this year in cities such as Jacksonville, Memphis, and Baltimore with Dayton being the final stop for 2022. Months of planning went into Serve Tour Dayton at the national, state, and local level, according to Heading, but it was the volunteers and their boots on the ground that made the event a success.
“It is such a joy for Send Relief to be able to partner with Ohio Baptists, the Greater Dayton Association of Baptists, and local churches,” said Dr. Sammy Simmons, Send Relief national project director. “When we partner together to meet needs and see Jesus change lives, I believe Southern Baptists are at our finest.”
Replacing the roof at United Awakening garage project.
A new outdoor classroom with pollinator garden under construction at Prass Elementary School in Kettering.
Volunteers fold t-shirts for students at EJ Brown Middle School.