What a terrific start to our first official “4 Amarillo” service project Sunday at Central. I had joked with our congregation that, while this was by no means any kind of competition, I sure wanted our church to collect more school supplies than the Methodists and Presbyterians. I figured there was no way to beat First Baptist because Howie Batson just makes one phone call and the boys down in Waco write him a million dollar check. But I definitely wanted us to out-do First Presbyterian because their senior pastor, Howard Griffen, lives across the street from me. I told my church I wanted to be sitting on my front porch Monday evening when Howard went out to check his mail so I could yell to him, “If you’re looking for school supplies, they’re all at the Church of Christ!”

I don’t know yet what the other three churches did. But our God moved us and empowered us to offer and collect more school supplies than I thought we would. I’m always the one who shoots for the stars and believes we’re always going to make the goal. But our efforts as a church family yesterday blew even me out of the water (this is where we give all the glory to God).

Our children scattered throughout the worship center during the opening moments of our assembly to gather the hundreds of sacks of school supplies that had been collected over the past couple of weeks. Composition books and pencils, Ziploc baggies and three-ring binders — the shopping carts that had been borrowed for the event overflowed and spilled onto and around the steps at the front of the room as we sang praises to our gracious God. All combined, we’ve sorted and stacked and counted 1,144 composition books, 1,020 boxes of #2 pencils, 364 binders, 290 boxes of baggies, and nearly $900 in cash!

Thank you so much for your eager participation in this cooperative effort with First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and Polk Street Methodist. Thank you for your enthusiastic response to our lessons Sunday about a visible and active unity among all Christians “that the world may believe.” And thank you for your continuing commitment to living out this unity and extending this grace to all disciples in the name of Jesus for the sake of our city.

We’re loading all the supplies into the church trailer Wednesday night, taking them to Polk Street Thursday morning, and then all four churches are combining our supplies and packing all the sacks for all four of our downtown area elementary schools at Polk Street Thursday evening. All those sacks will then be delivered to the schools next week along with catered breakfasts and lunches for the teachers.

We believer our alliance between the four downtown churches is a serious and everlasting statement to our city of the power and love of our God and of his will to reconcile and restore all of creation to him. Thank you for your faith in that vision that was so evident yesterday.