Serving the community

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 24, 2004

Times-Journal City Editor

Westwood Baptist’s members decided a long time ago that when their community was in need they’d step up and lend a hand.

The Rev. Randy Tanner, Westwood’s pastor, said that before he arrived at the church, a tornado struck the region, and several members of the community were left homeless or injured.

Email newsletter signup

“They (members of Westwood) said, ‘We’re not going to let that happen again,'” Tanner said.

Since then, they’ve been a shelter site for the American Red Cross.

Through Hurricane Ivan, residents could come to Westwood and know they were in a safe place.

“We just basically provide the facility and the people hours to make sure somebody’s here if anything comes up,” Tanner said.

While he doesn’t know exactly how many members of the church served as ARC volunteers during the storm, he said that the church contributed 119 man-hours to keeping people safe during the Category 1 hurricane.

Tanner has been the pastor of Westwood for about two years. The church’s prior commitment to helping others in their time of need impressed him when he first arrived at the church.

“They’re (the congregation) just a great group of people,” Tanner said. “They’re wiling to do whatever it takes to help people and work in the community.”

Serving as a shelter isn’t Westwood’s only evidence of community commitment.

The church also has a men’s group, the Brothers, who do work in the community year-round. They also take a major out-of-state mission trip once a year and do the best they can to represent their community and church in other states.

Of course, they do what every church tries to do for their community: Bring as many people to God as possible.

Each year, the church puts together their AWANA (A Workman Approved is Not Ashamed, a reference to II Timothy) youth program. The program encourages young people in the church, from 3-years-old to sixth graders, to get involved in their community and their church.

Each year, the group kicks off the AWANA program with a celebration. The kickoff includes food, family entertainment and carnival-type games for children. The group meets every Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The church also does an annual sports camp as another way to reach out to the community.

“These people just love people,” Tanner said of his congregation.