Most people think of Santa Clara First Baptist Church as the site of the Bethlehem program, the live Christmas pageant that has been offered for the last 14 years. But, there are additional reasons for the numerous plaques honoring this church’s 175 members.
“Our motto for 2011 was ‘Here to serve’,” said Pastor Richard Reaves, who grew up in Santa Clara and was in the first graduating class of what was then Peterson High School. Reaves is quick to point out that Santa Clara First Baptist Church is the fourth oldest First Baptist Church in California. Missionaries began the group in 1851 and dedicated the site at 3111 Benton Street in 1970. “Our mission is to serve with the love of Christ,” said Reaves, who has served the congregation at Santa Clara First Baptist Church for over 20 years.
Among the many ministries volunteers of the congregation support in the Santa Clara community is Scott Lane Outreach. The program, which benefits Scott Lane Elementary School, allows church members to assist with the school’s annual fund-raising carnival and take part in a tutoring program for the students. Throughout the month of January, Santa Clara First Baptist Church will be collecting basic school supplies and items like Kleenex and push pins in a bin to help the children of Scott Lane.
The church also has food pantry program, which is available to those in need the last Thursday of every month. According to Reaves, “People can get up to two bags of non-perishable food once a month. Donations of food for this ministry that can be accepted, and are welcome, are canned vegetables, soups, crackers, boxed pasta, powdered milk, etc.”
One of Santa Clara First Baptist Church’s larger programs is the Prayer Quilt Ministry, which is part of the International Prayers and Squares organization. “Prayer quilts are made for people who need to be reminded of, or introduced to, God’s love,” explained Rhonda Starnes, who works with four other women on the project.
A recipient might be a friend or family member of someone in the congregation facing major surgery. A quilt, designed to match the receiver, is made with a pair of untied strings on each square. The quilt is hung up and members of the congregation offer prayers on behalf of the person. As a prayer is said, the member ties the loose strings together making the blanket’s recipient “literally covered in prayer,” said Reaves.
Patients have been known to wear the quilt on the gurney taking them to the operating room. “Doctors and nurses often say a prayer and tie a knot too,” added Starnes.
The Prayer Quilt Ministry is looking for more help and no sewing experience is required. A 12-week trial will be offered in February.