From Our Pastor

Community Care Collaborative

Posted 9 November, 2017 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

I shared briefly this past Sunday of my experience with the Martinsville Community Care Collaborative hosted by First UMC on November 4th. I did so because I am grateful, as pastor of this church, to have had this church play a prominent role in this collaborative.

I shared of the great number of persons who lined up at the church well before sunrise, then entered the chapel as the first step to receiving much needed medical or dental care. I shared of the joy of having worked with local service agencies and colleges and churches in order to provide this collaborative. I shared my gratitude for those in this church who volunteered and provided food and provided care throughout the day. I shared of how more than 260 persons received medical and/or dental care that day. While it may sound as if in sharing all this, I shared much about the day, the truth is, I shared very little. There is so much more I could have shared.

I could have shared about the woman who was overjoyed to receive a new pair of shoes; it had been so long since she had bought anything for herself. I could have shared about the woman who was now able to read for the first time in a long time because she received a pair of glasses. I could have shared about those who were finally free from dental pain because they had seen a dentist for the first time in DECADES. I could have shared of how the dedication of the dentists and the need for dental care resulted in a portable canopy - used by the church when we hand out hot chocolate during the Christmas parade - being set up outside the Uptown Ministry Center on a cool, breezy day. I could have shared of how several ladies from one service agency in the Ministry Center that morning spontaneously burst into a song of praise so as to start their day of service on the right note. I could have shared of how one of the six dentists here that day made sure to walk over to me and tell me, quite emphatically, of how the services offered that day from the Ministry Center represented "the best use of this space." I could have shared the words of praise and affirmation offered countless times from medical students, service agencies, volunteers, guests. I could have shared of how this collaborative was the result of several schools, service agencies, and faith groups putting aside differences, not worried about "turf wars," not concerned about who has control or who gets credit, working together for the welfare of this community. I could have shared of my deep gratitude for the friendships made with all who gathered around table frequently throughout this year so as to offer this Collaborative.

The pictures included as part of this email offer but a brief glimpse into last Saturday. Still, they serve as powerful witness. This Sunday at the 11am service, Linda Adams, who, along with her husband John, was at the heart of the success of this Collaborative, will speak of her experience with this event, accompanied by more photographs from the day. I hope you will be there.

Please know of my gratitude to you for your support of the ministries of this church, support which contributed to and made possible the success of the Martinsville Community Care Collaborative. By way of such support, you blessed more lives than you know.