The Herald Bulletin

March 28, 2012

Area churches hope to spread message through outreach programs

By Michael D. Doyle
For The Herald Bulletin

— Madison Park Church of God senior associate pastor Rolland Daniels believes that area churches have plenty of room for growth.

Daniels, who has been at the so-called “megachurch” for the last seven months, estimates that the congregation of Madison Park has grown by etween 150 and 200 members since he has been there. As the area’s largest and most visible church Madison Park claims a membership of well over 2,000 people. However, the county as a whole is somewhat behind when it comes to religious presence.

According to city-data.com, an organization which compiles statistics and research on most cities in the United States, surveys show that roughly 35 percent of Madison County residents identify themselves with a religious affiliation.  That is well below the national average of 48 percent, while the state average hovers around the 40 percent mark.

Daniels thinks the key to reaching more people is “getting outside the walls” of the church.

“A big part of what we do is outreach into the community,” Daniels said. “We want to continue having that commitment to the community and challenge our members on a weekly basis to engage with others and help them.”

Daniels emphasized strongly the need for community service no matter what religion or church one belongs to.

“This is not something that should be specific to church initiatives,” he said. “It’s part of our lives as believers to do good for others. We want to be a tangible representation of our church and God’s love.”

Madison Park and The Greater Light Church of Anderson teamed up with many volunteers from all walks of life late last year for the “Do Something” campaign, donating more than 4,000 hours of labor to help improve and renovate throughout the city. Programs like “Do Something” and the Dove Harbor shelter for women and children have become rallying cries in the missions of Madison Park and other churches in the area.

While that work outside the church doors is regarded as universally important, Daniels said that regularly attending a church, no matter which one chooses, can be a source of of comfort in difficult times and believes strongly in that aspect of religious life as well.

To that end, Madison Park recently began a Saturday night service, an attempt to reach out to different groups who may not otherwise attend.

“Church is often a place that imperfect people come,” he said. “Unfortunately, the reality is that there is a lot of brokenness out there in the world today. For many, the church is a place where you can go and be yourself, find a sense of community and solace, an opportunity to feel welcomed and loved.”