Published in the Rains County Leader on April 18, 2017:
Shortly after David and I moved to Emory in February of 2011, we were told that, even though Rains is one of the smallest counties in Texas, it contains approximately twenty churches.
“That means one of two things,” quipped our guide. “Either there are a lot of religious people in Rains County or they can’t along.”
After six years here, I lean toward the first choice, because I have seen an amazingly cooperative spirit among the churches in this area. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Rains County Good Samaritans. This group describes itself as a non-profit organization serving the needs of residents of Rains County, Texas. They provide food assistance, free clothing, and emergency assistance – and a large percentage of the volunteers needed for the operation to function properly is provided by area churches.
Groups of workers from different churches donate several hours each month or each week performing a range of tasks from sorting donations for the thrift store to stocking shelves for the food pantry – from distributing food to families to manning the check-out counter on Saturday mornings when the thrift store is open to the public. While much of the work is done by groups from specific churches, there is a lot of administrative cooperation between the churches to ensure the operation runs smoothly. When everyone gathers in November to celebrate another successful year, there is no hint of us versus them but rather a spirit of look what we accomplished together with God’s help.
Another example of the cooperative spirit happened this past weekend during the community Good Friday and Sunrise Services. These are annual events that take place at various churches on a rotating schedule set by the pastoral alliance, a group of ministers that meets once a month to discuss plans, problems, and solutions. Based on the friendly banter that goes on between meetings, they seem to have a lot of fun. Through their leadership, members of several different denominations come together to celebrate Christianity’s oldest and most important festival remembering the Resurrection of Jesus. The same type of celebration will occur later in the year on Christmas Eve in honor of the birth of Jesus. As pastors stand in unfamiliar pulpits and worshipers sing new and unfamiliar songs, strong bonds are formed that benefit the community at large.
The combined Rains County churches have other events during the year. The next one is the observation of the National Day of Prayer at noon on May 4. The public is invited to gather in front of the main entrance of Emory Baptist Church on Planters Street just off the square. A slate of area ministers will lead in prayers for our City, our County, our State, and our Nation. They will also offer another example of cooperation at its best – further evidence that there are a large number of religious people in Rains County and that they get along quite nicely.