ABHMS, TABCOM hold annual ‘MissionAdventure’ in New Orleans

Parry-David Jordan and Cunningham for web

Top to bottom: David Parry, Jordan Parry and Vickie Cunningham

With assistance from American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts (TABCOM) held its annual nine-day “MissionAdventure” in New Orleans in April. While ABHMS’ Volunteer Mobilization Ministries provided a stipend and spearheaded registration and leadership, 27 individuals—clergy as well as congregants—from nine TABCOM congregations lent muscle to such activities as painting, cleaning and weeding in an effort to restore areas ravaged by hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005.

“Every April that we have gone has continued to build on the human connectedness hurricanes Katrina and Rita forced the nation to pay attention to,” says the Rev. Sandra Dorsainvil, TABCOM’s associate executive minister for Mission and Stewardship. “The 2016 team embraced Micah 6:8 as they served across the area, walking humbly with God and being the hands and feet of Christ.”

Father and son David and Jordan Parry of First Baptist Church, Wakefield, were committed to home restoration, including installing insulation and sheetrock as well as scraping and painting. Both expressed satisfaction in their ability to help a homeowner who had been evacuated during flooding but whose neighbor had died.

“She expressed over and over again how grateful she was to us volunteers for coming to help,” said David Parry, a musician and teacher. “She’d call us ‘angels.’ It was obvious that it meant a great deal to her to be remembered 11 years after this horrible disaster.”

Sixteen-year-old Jordan Parry echoed his dad.

“I really liked being able to talk with the homeowner and her relatives who stopped by—getting to know them all and how much it meant to them,” he said.

Jordan Parry added that he enjoyed meeting volunteers from other TABCOM congregations.

“It’s really interesting to get to know people from the other parts of Massachusetts,” he said.

Others devoted their time to KIPP Central City Primary charter school, where they sorted and shelved books and uniforms for kindergarten through sixth grade. In addition, they filed, organized and prepared curriculum packets.

While a team at Arc of Greater New Orleans sorted Mardi Gras beads for recycling, others weeded at Arc’s community farm. At Metairie (La.) Country Club, a team compiled folders for a “Hope Against Trafficking” fundraising luncheon. And at Exodus House—a residence for former homeless adults struggling with mental illness—volunteers served meals and processed one-on-one client intakes.

At LoveTouch Ministries, Gretna, La., a team sorted food-pantry items and cleaned a room infested with dead vermin. Among the team was Vickie Cunningham, a clinical laboratory scientist in hematology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her husband, Mike Cunningham, interim pastor at First Baptist Church, Abington, was so moved by previous mission trips to the Lower 9th Ward that he encouraged her to participate in this trip—his third—so that they could share the experience.

“I love being able to serve—doing things that are practical,” says Vickie Cunningham. “It’s nice to be able to give our time.”

Volunteers completed their experience with sightseeing trips to the French Quarter and worship at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church, an American Baptist congregation in the Garden District.

“I continue to be amazed by the love, dedication and commitment of volunteers from TABCOM,” says Victoria Goff, ABHMS national coordinator of Volunteer Mobilization Ministries. “Their desire and willingness to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus in New Orleans is wonderful. Each year, they exceed my expectations, no matter the task or assignment; they answer the call with joy and go above and beyond as they serve. As in the past, the team was amazing.”

 Information about Volunteer Mobilization Ministries is available online.