Heal­ing the bro­ken

New church seeks to meet needs of mod­ern faith­ful

The Covington News - - Religion - By Colleen Capes Jack­son

The 21st cen­tury church faces dif­fer­ent chal­lenges than it did only a gen­er­a­tion ago. To ad­dress th­ese is­sues, the Rev. Robert and Mar­garet Wash­ing­ton are birthing a non-de­nom­i­na­tional church called Fam­ily Heal­ing and Touch In­sti­tute — and the doors are open to ev­ery­one.

Founders of a 501c3 non profit or­ga­ni­za­tion called Elimika (which is Swahili for “to get knowl­edge or to ed­u­cate”), the cou­ple are on a mis­sion to strengthen men, mar­riages and fam­i­lies through Bi­ble study, mar­riage sem­i­nars, prayer part­ners and ac­count­abil­ity part­ners.

Trust­ing God to send work­ers and sup­ply their needs, they are look­ing for peo­ple who share their bur­den for our com­mu­nity, who can teach and who want to be in a core group. Wash­ing­ton’s sis­ter, Rob­bye Tucker, an ed­u­ca­tor in Phoenix, Ariz., is deeply in­volved in writ­ing some of the ma­te­ri­als and in the de­vel­op­ment of this church.

“We want to put peo­ple in min­istry,” said the pas­tor. “Our vi­sion for this church is that one day other churches will come to Fam­ily Heal­ing and Touch In­sti­tute to find out how to do church and shift the par­a­digm from meet­ing, eat­ing and go­ing home to do­ing God’s will on this earth.”

The son of an A.M.E. pas­tor and a mis­sion­ary mother, Wash­ing­ton be­lieves it is im­por­tant to stop com­plain­ing about how bad so­ci­ety is and to start do­ing some­thing about it.

“We need to get back to God’s word and ap­ply­ing it to our lives,” said the pas­tor. “We want to help peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence God’s word in their lives and get in touch with the power that God has for us. I want all men to be ma­ture Chris­tian men and head up their fam­ily and teach their fam­ily like God wants them to.”

Their min­istry is based on the pas­sage from Deuteron­omy 6:4-9: “Hear, O Is­rael: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.And th­ese words, which I com­mand thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them dili­gently unto thy chil­dren, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walk­est by the way, and when thou li­est down, and when thou ris­est up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets be­tween thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

Mar­garet Wash­ing­ton has de­vel­oped a 20-week Bi­ble study prayer pro­gram for the Elimika Foun­da­tion called RAP (Re­port­ing and Pray­ing), which teaches youth ages 13-25 years old a weekly Bi­ble story, an ap­pli­ca­tion, a prayer and scrip­ture ref­er­ences. It is de­signed to con­nect the youth with men­tors to en­sure ac­count­abil­ity as they study the Bi­ble at home or at church. RAP was re­cently im­ple­mented at St. Paul A.M.E. Church. The idea is for the men­tor to look at the lessons, make sure that the ma­te­rial has been un­der­stood, pray and sign off on the les­son in or­der for the young per­son to go to the next level. Par­ents are en­cour­aged to ac­cept the role of men­tor and get in­volved in the study.

“So many par­ents are busy, and they re­ally don’t have time to sit down and have a Bi­ble study at home and many don’t pray with their chil­dren,” said Mar­garet.

Be­fore re­tir­ing and mov­ing from Cal­i­for­nia to Cov­ing­ton two years ago, the cou­ple was heav­ily in­volved in mis­sion­ary work and re­cruited for Fam­ily Life in their area and fa­cil­i­tated a cou­ple’s min­istry, weekly Bi­ble stud­ies and mar­riage sem­i­nars.

Mar­garet spent 30 years work­ing in fi­nance and gained ex­pe­ri­ence in plan­ning and writ­ing train­ing man­u­als. She led a mis­sion­ary group, taught Sun­day school for both chil­dren and adults, spoke to women’s groups and served as fi­nan­cial sec­re­tary for the church.

Born in Win­ter Haven, Fla., Wash­ing­ton served in the Army Med­i­cal Corps for nine years in Ger­many and Korea. He re­ceived his R.N. cre­den­tials from St. Francis School of Nurs­ing and grad­u­ated in 1972 from Kings County School of Anes­the­sia.

Wash­ing­ton re­called his sal­va­tion ex­pe­ri­ence when a group with Cam­pus Cru­sade came to his house and wanted to put up a sign in his win­dow that said, “I got it!”

“They min­is­tered to me and I ac­cepted Christ in 1978 and joined the church,” said Wash­ing­ton. “I at­tended Shiloh Bi­ble Col­lege in Oak­land, Calif., the Bay City Bi­ble In­sti­tute in Berkley, Calif., and took cour­ses from the Golden Gate The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary.”

Wash­ing­ton is li­censed and or­dained in the Bap­tist Church and in the African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church. He served as the as­so­ci­ate pas­tor at Col­lege Park Bap­tist Church, Las Ve­gas, Nev., Com­mu­nity Bap­tist Church in Pitts­burgh, Calif., Park Haven Bap­tist Church in Con­cord, Calif., and as the as­sis­tant pas­tor at the 2000-mem­ber Palma Ceia Bap­tist Church, in Hay­ward, Calif., where he met his wife.

Mar­ried for 17 years, Wash­ing­ton has one un­mar­ried son, Robert War­ren Wash­ing­ton, Jr. in Pitts­burgh, and Mar­garet has three sons, Richard and Gre­gory Bo­stick and Ma­lik Has­san, and has 10 grand­chil­dren, all who live in Cal­i­for­nia.

Wash­ing­ton came to At­lanta to a world­wide mis­sion­ary con­fer­ence and was mo­ti­vated by speaker Dr. Michael John­son, a sur­geon at a mis­sion in Kenya. Anx­ious to serve, the cou­ple went to Kenya for one month in 1994. Mar­garet worked in the ac­count­ing of­fice at the hos- pital. Wash­ing­ton worked along side Dr. John­son, teach­ing med­i­cal pro­ce­dures in re­sus­ci­ta­tion, ster­il­iza­tion and anes­the­si­ol­ogy.

The Kenya trip in­spired the cou­ple to re­sign their jobs and go to Las Ve­gas for mis­sion work. Wash­ing­ton be­came the evan­ge­lism out­reach min­is­ter and Mar­garet served as ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant for a 400-mem­ber, pre­dom­i­nately Cau­casian Bap­tist Church where their out­reach min­istry grew to 250 peo­ple as a re­sult of chang­ing the vis­i­ta­tion from weekly to monthly. Mar­garet was in­stru­men­tal in re­or­ga­niz­ing the food and cloth­ing pantry.

“When they came for food, we min­is­tered to them and used those names for out­reach, and some be­came part of the church,” said the pas­tor’s wife. “We worked there for three years and re­turned to Cal­i­for­nia un­til we re­tired in 2005.”

At age 68, Wash­ing­ton said this is the most ex­cit­ing part of his whole life and he is ea­ger about the di­rec­tion that God has given him for the church. Mar­garet spoke about her hus­band’s pas­sion for what he be­lieves in and how they rely on each other’s strengths.

“My wife knows a great deal about or­ga­ni­za­tion,” said the pas­tor. “She is a teacher, dis­cerner, fa­cil­i­ta­tor, and has com­pas­sion for oth­ers. We hold each other ac­count­able for God’s word and for ap­ply­ing God’s word in our lives.”

Cur­rently, Fam­ily Heal­ing and Touch In­sti­tute are meet­ing in cell groups. For more in­for­ma­tion, call (678) 625-0655.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Here to help: The Rev. Robert Wash­ing­ton and wife Mar­garet Wash­ing­ton are bring­ing a new non­de­nom­i­na­tional church called Fam­ily Heal­ing and Touch In­sti­tute to the New­ton County area with a mis­sion to strengthen men, mar­riages and fam­i­lies through their min­istry.

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