God in the City program at Beaumont’s First Baptist reaches out to first responders, schools

Officer Jason Torres, Robert Canizales, Beau Tallarita, Brie Brady, Felici

Many people have criticized evangelical churches over the last decade for being politically divisive, shallow and disconnected from the community.

Between 2007 and 2014, Americans who identify as Christian fell from 78.4 to 70.6 between 2007 and 2014, mostly driven by declines among mainline Protestants and Catholics, according to a Pew research study published in 2015.

Beaumont’s First Baptist Church, located on Major Drive in the north end, wants to counteract this trend by being a “simple church.”

Instead of listening to a sermon April 30, both the 9:30 and 11:11 a.m. services gathered to sing worship songs but then dispersed to deliver goodies to local first responders and pray with people.

“Prayer was the emphasis of the day,” executive pastor Mark Adams said.

He called principals and assistant principals at area schools the week before, asking about the school’s needs. During the service, he organized the groups that went out.

Several people delivered a home-cooked meal during the 9:30 a.m. service to three nearby fire stations. The 11:11 a.m. service brought cookies and movie theater gift cards. Both groups prayed with the firefighters on shift.

Groups of 20-40 people left to pray outside of Boys’ Haven, Legacy Christian Academy, West Brook High School, Lumberton Intermediate School, Lumberton High School, Sour Lake High School and Middle School and Lamar University.

Other groups gave cookies and gift cards to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Beaumont Police Station downtown.

Still others brought cookies to Baptist Hospital’s ER and ICU departments and offered to pray with people waiting.

One little boy said, “Mommy, we didn’t have to go to church [this morning]. Church came to us!”

“It’s the church in action, we’re called to be the salt and light to our community and the people we live around, and sometimes churches stay within their four walls and really don’t have a presence outside of their walls,” Adams said.

“We feel … praying for the needs of our community is very important.”

“Part of being the church of Jesus Christ is embracing all the things that he has called us to do, not just to attend worship on Sunday morning.”