“A Small Church with a Big Heart”
By Laura Spilman
West Bethany Baptist Church in East Bethany, NY is a small church with a big heart. The members have supported missionaries in Arizona, the Sudan and the Philippines and decided they wanted to help out locally. So they heard about the Buffalo City Mission, met with Sue Cervi, Manager of Volunteers, went on a tour and the partnership was born. “The pastor and I met with Sue one day, she gave us a tour and we got to talk to her and we both just kind of fell in love with the place,” recalls Sharon Breton, member of West Bethany Baptist Church and Church Ambassador to the Buffalo City Mission. Breton brought her idea to the missions committee at her church and collectively they decided to begin supporting the Buffalo City Mission.
The church has offered support during Thanksgiving, they collected stuffing, they’ve held ice cream socials for the clients, they’ve made birthday cards to give to clients on their birthdays and much more. Last Thanksgiving they got together with three other churches and collected 1,000 boxes of stuffing mix. At that time they held a clothing drive as well and ended up donating several bags of clothing. Currently they’re holding a sock and underwear drive to acquire such items for the men at the Men’s Community Center. The children at their church also participate in their volunteering endeavors “because we really want our children to be involved,” says Breton. The members of the church made lunches for the clients and the children decorated the bags those lunches were packaged in. They will continue to participate in that way “so the children can get involved again because we want the children to learn to be helping others…oh they loved it, they absolutely loved it.”
West Bethany Baptist Church also held an ice cream social last September, they brought tables and tents and freezers and ice cream and made ice cream sundaes and cones for the clients at the Buffalo City Mission. “That was an absolutely wonderful experience,” remembers Breton. “Many of the men said they hadn’t had ice cream in years.” The members of the church wanted to do something special for the men, “just trying to think of something we could do that would be a treat for them.” It wasn’t simply for the men at the Men’s Community Center either; anyone off the street could come enjoy an ice cream treat.
Breton is a retired kindergarten teacher and says she retired with the idea of wanting to be able to help people and serve people in a way, “and once we were up there I really just fell in love with [the Buffalo City Mission]. I think it’s absolutely phenomenal what the City Mission does for people.” She says her congregation really enjoys helping out the City Mission and as an ambassador Breton takes on the challenges set before her. At the last meeting she found out there was a need for socks and underwear so she went back to her congregation and spread the word about the need. So they held a sock and underwear drive in order to collect those needed items. Since West Bethany Baptist Church is a small church, about 48 members, Breton says everyone participates in whatever they’re doing for the City Mission, but, she says, “I don’t have to motivate them. All I have to do is present the project and that’s it…it’s everybody in our church who does the work.”
Breton says service is an important part of her faith, “outreach is a very big part of our church… if there’s a need in the community I try and be there.” She says in regards to her church, “basically the entire congregation is helping out, aiding in what the City Mission needs.” At West Bethany Baptist Church, an old church over 100 years old where everyone knows one another and is one of those “family churches,” the members come together and in spite of the small size, make a big impact in helping out the Buffalo City Mission with whatever is needed at the time. The members prove that the size of a church doesn’t matter when the hearts of its members are so big; it is their heart to serve that makes the impact in changing lives at the Buffalo City Mission.