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Church's small group makes big impact on community

October 31, 2006|by ALICIA NOTARIANNI

In recent weeks, about 200 people from the Hagerstown area have been gathering in small groups in their homes to consider the question, "What on earth are we here for?"

Tammy Frank, executive director of Crossroads Church, said one group started meeting to study the book "Better Together: What on Earth Are We Here For? (40 Days of Community, Workbook)" by Rick Warren, also the author of the best-seller "The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?"

Frank said "Better Together" is a study focusing on the idea that people are meant to reach out and serve one another as a community. She said one small group started meeting, and the idea quickly caught on with other people.

At present count, there are about 25 groups meeting. Membership has expanded beyond members of Crossroads Church to include their families, friends and acquaintances.

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Frank said the studies have inspired the groups to reach out to the community in a number of ways, including operating a food drive; distributing goody bags at a nursing home; volunteering at a rescue mission; providing food and clothing for people in need, yardwork for the elderly, and home repairs for single mothers; and praying and fasting for an individual who is recovering from drug addiction.

The latest effort to stem from the groups was a pancake breakfast Saturday, Oct. 28, to benefit Stone Bridge Transitional Care Home and San Mar Children's Home, facilities that serve children who have emotional disturbances. Because Crossroads Church, which meets on Sundays at Hagerstown 10 Cineplex, does not have kitchen and dining facilities, the breakfast was held at Crossroads' sister church, Paramount Brethren in Christ Church. More than 200 people attended, and proceeds exceeded $400.

Chuck Frank, pastor at Crossroads, said the breakfast was hosted by a combination of three of the small study groups. Members of the groups chose to provide financial donations to San Mar and Stone Bridge because of relationships Crossroads Church has been developing with some of the residents at those facilities.

Pastor Frank said some residents attend church services at Crossroads. In addition, Crossroads member Debbie Harris, 54, of Smithsburg, has been leading a ministry of praise and worship, Bible study and fellowship at San Mar for a little more than a year. Harris meets with a group of residents two to three times a month.

Tim Cox, director of residential services at Brook Lane Health Services, which manages Stone Bridge, said he was thrilled to hear the study groups would be making a donation to Stone Bridge. He said the money would be used toward Christmas gifts for residents.

"The people at Crossroads probably are not even fully aware of how much this will benefit us. (Stone Bridge residents') home lives are chaotic or nonexistent, and we will bear the burden of providing Christmas this year. You can't conceive how important this is. It's very beneficial," Cox said.

Pastor Frank said his church is pleased to be becoming more aware of the needs of the community.

"We are just trying to reach out and transform the community through God's love and God's grace," he said.

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