CROSSETT – Most people see a run-down building and don’t think twice about it. However, church leaders at Jarvis Chapel Baptist Church, Crossett, saw an opportunity.
“Service in September started with wanting to do something to make our city look better,” said Lloyd Gibbs, pastor of Jarvis Chapel. “We had noticed several areas that were looking very run down, and no one was doing anything about it.”
Chris Gill, Whitney Gill and Tammy Carter, youth leaders at Jarvis Chapel, had already organized several service projects for the youth and children in the church before. In the past, they collected food and household supplies to deliver to families in need.
“They wanted to teach our youth and children about being servants of Jesus Christ and how they could share His love in our community,” said Gibbs. “They decided to take it upon themselves to go around town and clean up areas that were in desperate need of some TLC. They were wanting to teach our kids what it truly means to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ and to show a little pride in our city.”
Jarvis Chapel focused on Galatians 6:9-10 to motivate them for the task ahead: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (NKJV).
“These verses helped inspire them to keep working hard and, yes, even getting their hands dirty in order to share the love of Jesus Christ,” said Gibbs. “This was something we all needed during a very difficult time.”
In June, Georgia Pacific, a major company in Crossett, announced it was shutting down parts of the mill, eliminating more than 500 jobs. Several of those losing their jobs were members of Jarvis Chapel and other local churches.
“That announcement ushered in a lot of negativity and critical attitudes within the community,” said Gibbs. “Service in September was one way we could help speak life and perhaps breathe life back into our community.”
During September, Jarvis Chapel teenagers and children worked at the EZ-Mart building, Texaco building, Master Car Wash and old abandoned buildings. At these locations, they painted, mowed, pulled weeds, cleaned driveways, picked up trash and did anything else to make the areas look better.
Jarvis Chapel didn’t serve alone. First Baptist Church of Crossett, Mount Olive Baptist Church of Crossett, New Life Church of Crossett and South Main Baptist Church of Crossett partnered with Jarvis Chapel. Together they pulled weeds, cleaned concrete, cut down trees, picked up trash and mowed at the Old McDonald’s Carwash, Road-Mart Gas Station and the old Arkla Gas building. They also cleaned Crossett’s city park.
Along with cleaning up the community, Jarvis Chapel has gathered every Tuesday evening at Centennial Park for Armor Up.
“The purpose is to pray for our community and try to build bridges within our community with other churches,” said Gibbs.
At Armor Up, people gather for worship and an encouraging message – especially for those affected by the Georgia Pacific shutdown – followed by prayer.
“I suppose you could say that we’re trying to teach our youth and children – and even adults – that it’s not enough to just go to church,” said Gibbs. “As important as that is, we must learn to be the church in our everyday lives.”