Church group serves Norwood
Missionaries travel to Dundalk
School may be out, but the halls and classrooms at Norwood Elementary School were bustling with activity last week, thanks in large part to a group of 40 North Carolina missionaries.
The volunteers, members of Denver Baptist Church in Denver, N.C., stayed at Captivate Church, next to Norwood, and spent their days serving at Norwood and Holabird Middle School, as
well as ministering to members of the community.
This marks the third year the team has traveled to Dundalk and served local schools.
At Norwood, the missionary team completed a number of tasks during their week of service, including creating “book nooks” for students and children in the neighborhoods surrounding the school.
The book nooks — six at Norwood and six in local neighborhoods — are painted mailboxes containing age-appropriate books that children may borrow, read and return. The books in the community boxes are geared toward elementary school children, while, at Norwood, there is a box with books geared toward each grade at the school. The mailboxes used were donated by Home Depot and 84 Lumber.
The aim is to get kids reading and keep them reading — during the summer and into the school year.
The missionary team also spent a portion of their week redecorating the Norwood cafeteria in preparation for students’ return next month.
According to Norwood principal Pat Goldys, the cafeteria will be divided into four eatery areas, modeled after a diner, bistro and cafe.
Around the cafeteria last Thursday, volunteers were hard at work painting the partitions that will be used to divide the areas.
“We want to make it pleasurable and enjoyable for them to eat,” Goldys said, adding that separating the spaces will allow students to converse with each other without becoming excessively loud.
Matt and Denise Dull, with son Garrison, were painting colorful images of healthy lunch options on partitions in the cafeteria last week.
Their goal in participating in the mission trip, Matt noted, was to “share Jesus’ love and get out in the community” as well as “set a good example for our son.”
Across the school, volunteers completed numerous other tasks, including stamping Norwood’s name into new books on different cultures. This year, Goldys noted, students will have greater access to media depicting a wide variety of cultures around the world.
The team also worked to put together a new maker space. Hard at work in that room, Wake Forest University student Carly Bolton sat on the floor, painting book nook mailboxes. She was also responsible for much of the painting in the maker space room itself.
Though she moved four hours away from Denver Baptist Church, she made the trip back to her hometown church to travel with them to Dundalk this year.
Meanwhile, just down the hall, Preston and Michael Collins were lending their talents to the school’s new Sensory Room. Complete with a foam floor, inflatable rocking chairs and more, the room will provide a soothing space for students.
“Kids are going to come here for meditation and mindfulness and calming down,” Goldys explained.
She added, “You need breaks during the day to get yourself into the frame of mind you want to be.”
When they weren’t working at Norwood or Holabird, the missionary team spent time last week reaching out into the community. In the mornings and evenings, members would visit local bus stops offering food, water, prayers and a kind word to the homeless and those waiting for their bus.
“We’ve experienced the love of Christ personally,” said missionary team member Ginger Helton, noting that the team wants to share that love with area residents.
According to Denver Baptist family pastor Jeff Cornette, Baltimore is one of the cities identified by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) as a city in need of spiritual assistance.
The SBC has identified 32 “Send Cities” (one of which is Baltimore), defined by the North American Mission Board as “cities with the greatest spiritual need and potential influence throughout North America.”
The aim, according to Cornette, is to “plant churches in Baltimore.”
“We want to plant a church within walking distance of everyone on the planet,” he noted.
Their work, according to Cornette, is intended “to really proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the community … in word and in deed.”
While they spent the week giving to the school and wider community (they also spent time cooking meals for the Dundalk Police Precinct, Norwood teachers and others), the missionaries are quick to note that they neither expect nor want anything in return.
“We just really love the people of Baltimore,” Helton said. “We just want to pray for them and love them and give them some hope.”
She concluded, “I wish we could do so much more.”
Missionaries from Denver Baptist Church in Denver, N.C., spent part of their week installing “book nooks” at Norwood Elementary School.
Missionary team members (clockwise, from top left) Lori Milholland, Claire Ratcliff, Courtney Collins and Matt Coffey stamped books at Norwood last week.
Missionaries (from left) Denise Dull, Matt Dull and Garrison Dull redecorated Norwood’s cafeteria last week.