Massive Send Relief day of service makes big impact ‘for generations to come’

DALLAS (BP) – Nine-year-old Destiny, wide-eyed and smiling broadly, surveyed the freshly repainted sanctuary of Lake June Baptist Church as she and her mother, Yvonne, arrived at the church to see what the Lord had done.

Destiny (red dress) and her mother, Yvonne (second from left) represent two of the four generations of the same family baptized by Worthington (third from right). Other church members are also pictured. (Submitted photo)

Newly installed blue carpet covered the floors; comfortable, upholstered chairs replaced 50-year-old rickety wooden pews. Bright can lights, rather than aging fluorescent fixtures, illuminated the space. Ceiling stains from seasonal roof leaks had disappeared under coats of pleasing white tinted with gray. Even the foyer, kitchen, bathrooms and hallways had been refloored, repainted and relit. Outside, volunteers put the finishing touches on flower beds, adding mulch and spring blooms.

Destiny, Yvonne and other church members gathered that day with Lake June’s bivocational pastor, Bobby Worthington, to give thanks to God and to the volunteers participating in Send Relief’s Serve Tour Dallas 2024. Send Relief is the compassion ministry of Southern Baptists that is a joint effort between the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board.

Serve Tour Dallas volunteers participated in 38 projects to further God’s kingdom in the DFW Metroplex March 15-16. For the more than 600 volunteers – representing 48 congregations from eight states including Texas – it was a spring break to remember, making an eternal impact. Projects varied widely, from assisting with block party outreaches to school facility updates to mobile dental clinics to playground rebuilds and church remodels.

Three Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) churches – First Baptist Dallas, Mesquite Friendship Baptist and Northway Church – functioned as Serve Tour hubs, with mission activities radiating from these strategic spots. A Serve Tour rally was held at First Baptist Dallas.

The remodel of the historic Lake June Baptist Church in the Pleasant Grove neighborhood of Dallas grew considerably beyond the two-day Serve Tour initiative, thanks to the church’s long partnership with First Baptist.

“We were once a mission church of First Dallas. We have a sister partnership, a relationship, with First Baptist,” Worthington said. “First Baptist helps us with bookkeeping and things like that. They do a lot of things behind the scenes.”

For example, a roofing contractor who was a member of First Baptist Dallas recently arranged for the Lake June roof to be replaced at cost.

Making connections, making it better

When Send Tour representatives approached Brent McFadden, First Dallas recreation pastor, he recommended the refurbishment of Lake June Baptist as a project.

Send Relief’s Marcus Rawls, Cole Hedgecock, pastor of First Baptist Rowlett, and Worthington met weeks before Serve Tour to develop a plan. Worthington figured they might redo some floors and repaint the bathrooms and kitchen. When Rawls and Hedgecock saw the sanctuary, ideas began flowing.

“What if we do the auditorium too?” Rawls asked, indicating that replacing the seating would be possible.

Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Director Nathan Lorick (far right) greets church members and volunteers at Lake June Baptist Church. Dallas Baptist Association Executive Director Ryan Jespersen is also seen second from right.

Worthington, amazed and grateful, started weeping. Rawls had described renovations that Worthington had envisioned over the long term.

“God knew what I wanted to do in three phases. … Marcus and Cole had no way of knowing that,” Worthington said. “What I had planned to do in three phases, they got done in three weeks.”

Work started weeks before the mid-March Serve Tour, as McFadden asked a First Dallas deacon, Scott Finney, to get involved. Finney, who works for a large developer and owns an excavating company, agreed to volunteer.

What started as a job to take out the old pews and refloor and spruce up the sanctuary expanded to include new lighting in the sanctuary – then new flooring, lighting and painting the entire church interior, including bathrooms and kitchens.

“I’ve spent the last 23 days up at the church helping,” Worthington said at the time. “I told Scott, ‘I can’t do what you do, but I can pray for you and hand you what you need.’” Church members helped significantly.

“We’ve been working over the last three weekends,” Scott Finney’s wife Joan added.

Send Relief/NAMB, First Baptist Dallas and a local doctor who has been involved with the annual Kenya mission trip led by Worthington all contributed to the project, supplementing the money Lake June had budgeted for the redo.

Finney called on friends and fellow contractors, too.

“I was able to enlist a lot of relationships I had. We’ve all known each other a long time and they were glad to do it,” he said. “The flooring was donated. The electrical was costed out, and the chairs were donated at cost. It started blossoming.”

Finney said the dozens of volunteers and vendors who contributed to the project will likely come to a Lake June celebratory service this spring.

Raising the roof

The Kenya Mission Trip led by Worthington for a decade has focused on medical missions, evangelism and church planting. For the last five years, First Baptist Dallas has partnered with Lake June and the National Baptist Convention of Kenya in the effort.

“We do a clinic. We do evangelism. We plant a church,” Worthington said, adding that during the following year, the church raises money in an effort called Raise the Roof. Lake June members give generously and other partners contribute.

Part of the project involved sprucing up the landscaping outside the church.

“We hire a contractor recommended by the National Baptist Convention of Kenya and he erects a pole and roof structure so the church can meet [under a shelter],” Worthington said, estimating that the outreach has planted more than two dozen churches in Kenya over the past decade.

Essentially, Lake June members have been helping roof churches in Kenya even as their own church’s roof needed replacing.

“Our people are very giving. The church loves each other,” Worthington said of his 40-person congregation.

“The church exists for those who are already here but also for those who are not yet here,” Worthington said when asked what the remodel will mean to his people. Nodding to a young girl named Destiny, he said he had baptized four generations of the girl’s family over the decades.

“When I baptized Destiny, it was a sign of generations to come [to Lake June] long after I’ve gone to heaven,” he said. “We’re setting it up. The church is known in the community. Destiny and other of our kids and youth, our teenagers, they see this [remodel] and they know the church is going to be here.”

People, not places, are the church, Worthington. “This is a place of worship for people.”

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Southern Baptist TEXAN.

Published April 22, 2024