Hundreds gather at St. Paul’s Baptist for MLK Day

This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
Roughly 500 people took part in the Day of Service projects or visiting locations to help through St. Paul’s Baptist Church in West Chester on Monday. (Daily Local News)

Roughly 500 people took part in the Day of Service projects or visiting locations to help through St. Paul’s Baptist Church in West Chester on Monday. (Daily Local News)

WEST GOSHEN — The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., is noted as once saying, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for other?”

With that in mind, though Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a day off for schools and many businesses, people are asked to have “A Day On, Not a Day Off,” as the MLK Day of Service website proclaims.

For the 12th consecutive year, St. Paul’s Baptist Church hosted a Day of Service, which was bigger than ever before.

“We are in almost every church with a project down High Street,” said Patricia Penn, the chair of St. Paul’s Baptist’s MLK Day of Service. “All of us are working together on this day.”

…[Please continue the story on the Daily Local News website by clicking here.]

More than just churchgoers came out to help, however, as St. Paul’s also reached out to the West Chester Area School District and a lot of the black student unions at the schools.

Roughly 500 people came through the doors of St. Paul’s Baptist on Monday morning to participate in more than 30 different projects or 36 locations served.

The different places or projects were broken down into age categories as well, letting every person who came out have the opportunity to help in some way.

Children 6 or under, they could create cards for soldiers or participate in storytelling or arts and crafts. Children 7 and above could help knit caps for newborns or create posters about King.

For those 10 and above, they could help assemble personal hygiene kits for St. Luke’s UAME Church, visit either the Barclay Friends Nursing Home or Genesis Brandywine Home, help with a supermarket food drive or the snack pack assembly for Church of the Holy Trinity.

Teenagers and adults could participate in all the above mentioned, plus more, including putting together meal kits for Stop Hunger Now, assemble emergency backpacks for the unsheltered, create lap blankets for seniors, help clean and organize the ARC of Chester County, painting at the Salvation Army and much more.

“One of our biggest projects is Stop Hunger Now,” Penn said. “We did 22,000 meals today to ship to developing countries. We fed 250 feed people with Mobile Meals and delivered them to their homes. When we started this, it was about us connecting with people.”

As the popularity of St. Paul’s Baptist’s MLK Day continues to grow, it adds more projects or locations each year.

“The emergency backpacks is new this year and we also doubled up our Mobile Meals as far as how many people we could feed,” Penn said.

The planning committee for the Day of Service at St. Paul’s Baptist got started back in the fall for this large task of getting all the projects and locations figured out.

“We work together to make it happen,” Penn said. “The bonds have grown so deep now.”

Everything which is used – food, yarn, materials, etc. – is either donated or supplied by St. Paul’s, who sponsors the day financially.

To finish the day out, the volunteers enjoy a lunch at St. Paul’s Baptist and watch a video put together by the young adults, filled with pictures and videos from the day’s activities. Afterward, everyone gathers together to reflect on the day and the efforts everyone gave to make a difference.

“(The day) is to keep the dream alive, it’s to remind people that Dr. King was not just for African Americans, but that we all would come together,” said Pastor Wayne of St. Paul’s Baptist. “This is a picture of that. This is what we would call the Beloved Community in Action. It’s people from every walk of life, regardless of race or religion, came together to serve one another and put our differences behind us and try to respect one another and serve one another.”

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