News Articles

Church medical, dental clinics reach out to area in transition

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (BP)??On Tuesday nights, First Baptist Church, North Charleston, S.C., turns into a medical clinic ?? complete with waiting area, a receptionist armed with folders and forms, nurses, a medicine room, examining rooms and doctors … and, most importantly, patients.
The medical clinic is Charleston Baptist Association’s way of reaching what has been determined as one of the most needy areas in Charleston. The community has changed from a white suburbia of the 1960s to a 60 percent black community with a median income of less than $14,000 per year. A medical clinic at First Baptist, North Charleston, and a soon?to?be?opened dental clinic at nearby Charleston Heights Baptist Church are key ways of reaching the community.
They’re also charting new ground: The dental clinic is the first to be offered by South Carolina Baptists. The medical clinic is the second in the state.
Covenant Baptist Church, Lancaster, coordinates the first medical clinic offered by South Carolina Baptists. In operation for two years, the Covenant Care Ministry Clinic has more than 300 patients who are served by 15 doctors, 20 nurses and other volunteers.
Charleston Baptist Association already had a presence in the North Charleston area through several summers of doing backyard Bible clubs and other ministries through Charleston Outreach, a ministry arm of the association, according to Jack Little, church and community missionary. The next step was finding churches willing to host a medical and a dental clinic. First Baptist Church, North Charleston, and Charleston Heights Church agreed. Highland Park Church, Hanahan, meanwhile, has pledged a coordinated prayer support for the clinics.
The clinics are supported financially by the association, its churches and the state convention. Because Little is a missionary of the North American Mission Board, the board covers all liability charges for the clinics.
“The association now has a ministry outlet for people with a medical background,” Little said. “They were going overseas to do medical missions because there was nothing here, and now there is.”
The medical clinic is set up each Tuesday night, using educational space at the North Charleston church. The prayer room is available for patients, and the church’s staff break room is available for volunteers.
“This is both outreach and inreach for us,” said pastor Keith Goretzka. “It’s a way for us to practice the love of Christ, to share him with people in the community. The clinic also provides more visibility for our church, and a way for our church members to serve.”
Nurses and doctors from the Medical University of South Carolina and from Trident Technical College volunteer, as well as church members who have little medical experience but a heart to minister.
The dental clinic will be housed in an extra building owned by Charleston Heights Church.
“We’re incorporating God’s Word into the service we’re giving,” said Judy Dillow, one of the coordinators. “We’ve barely touched the surface of the needs here, but it sure is exciting.”

    About the Author

  • Amanda Phifer