This article is part of an ongoing series exploring the rich spiritual soil that can be found in Griffin and Spalding County. 

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). As a young man, one of my biggest objections to church and organized religion was the hypocrisy that I saw emanating from it. It seemed to me that the words proclaimed on Sunday mornings bore little resemblance to the lives I saw lived out Monday through Friday. 

While this objection may apply in certain areas, I am grateful to serve a church that is seeking to live out a different way. I am also grateful for the many churches in our community that are seeking to embody the love of Christ with their actions and service. 

City Church of Griffin is a prime example of just such a church. Though still relatively new to our community, City Church has already impacted our community in wonderful ways. 

Pastor Josh Abernathy and the leadership of City Church had a vision for a church inspired by a passage from Jeremiah: “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you.” City Church was founded with that goal in mind: to seek the good of the city of Griffin and the surrounding areas. 

One of the ways that they have embodied this goal is through their partnership with Orrs Elementary School. Warren East, City Engagement Pastor, said, “As a church, we wondered: What would it look like for us to fully plug into one school? We didn’t want to spread ourselves too thin. We wanted to do one thing and do it well.” 

Partnering with Spalding Collaborative, City Church has established a backpack program for students at Orrs that struggle with food insecurity. In fact, they even donated all of the offering from a service in December to help fund this initiative. City Church is also working to train mentors, with a goal of having 40 mentors regularly investing in the lives of at-risk students. 

Volunteers from the church have helped staff book fairs and the church has made their ice cream truck available for school functions. A group of volunteers even came to Orrs and collected 36 trash bags full of “lost and found” items, took them home to wash and sort, and returned them to ensure that the school had warm clothes to give students in the winter. They also helped to create and furnish a lounge for teachers to provide a place of refuge, peace, and restoration in the midst of busy days. 

Teachers are already commenting on the ways that these simple acts are impacting the culture of the school and the attitude of students. East stated, “We want schools to be a place where teachers and students want to be.” 

City Church would like to partner with other churches to see these kinds of ministries throughout our community. “What would it look like if our larger faith community fully invested in our schools?” East asked. “Sometimes, just showing up means more than anything.”

Rev. Steven Norris