By Allen Allnoch
Dr. Grant Scarborough laughs as he tells the story of how MercyMed of Columbus acquired its name.
Scarborough founded MercyMed in 2011 after spending four years in Augusta, where he had co-founded a similar health care center “for people in all walks of life.” That facility was called Christ Community Health Services of Augusta. Thinking along those same lines when he moved back to Columbus, his hometown, he discovered another local institution already bore the name “Christ Community.”
He didn’t want to create confusion, so he decided on MercyMed for the new practice.
“So it’s pretty much your fault we have that name,” Scarborough joked as he spoke to a group visiting from Christ Community Church last Monday.
Branding issues aside, there’s only one name that really matters at MercyMed: Jesus. The entire practice is built on Him, with a mission “to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and to demonstrate His love by providing affordable, quality primary healthcare for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the underserved in Columbus, Georgia and the surrounding area.”
MercyMed seeks to treat not only physical ailments, but to care for its patients’ mental and spiritual wellbeing as well. It offers prayer and counseling services, and it has an expanding menu of specialty services that currently include dental, GYN, vision, cardio, dermatology and ultrasounds. Patients without insurance are charged on a sliding scale for as little as $30 a visit.
Scarborough holds degrees from the University of Georgia and the Mercer University School of Medicine. He completed residencies in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Tennessee-Memphis. But for all his knowledge and skill, he’s most concerned with helping people connect with God.
Faith in Jesus is not a requirement to see a MercyMed doctor or nurse. But patients will see, hear and feel the touch of the Gospel when they enter the former bank building on Second Avenue. (A second Columbus location opened on Steam Mill Road in 2014.) Scripture adorns the walls, and staff will discuss matters of faith when opportunities arise.
“I’m not the Great Physician,” Scarborough says. “I’m an OK physician. But I know the Great Physician, and that’s who we want to point people to.”
Scarborough and Billy Holbrook, MercyMed’s director of development, hosted the CCC group for lunch and a facility tour. The latter included a look at one of the newest initiatives, a community garden. MercyMed staff are growing fruits and vegetables with the goal of helping neighborhood residents improve their diet and, ultimately, their health.
The pair also shared prayer needs and volunteer opportunities. All of the following bullet points are prayer needs, and some are tangible ways CCC members and attenders can plug in. If you have an interest in giving time to Mercy Med, or have ideas or resources that would help staff fulfill their vision, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on all aspects of Mercy Med, visit mercymedcolumbus.com.
Prayer, Material and Volunteer Needs
A look at what CCC kids and adults are doing out in the community during our June 4-8 Week of Hope outreach.
Why are we designating this particular week a “Week of Hope?” Shouldn’t we be putting our faith into action and taking hope to the world every day?
Yes we should. Loving our neighbor is a 24/7 biblical mandate, to be sure. And it’s fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit, as Pastor Keith taught in this week's Sunday message.
But just as with our Church Has Left the Building outreach last year, a ready-made outreach sometimes can be the nudge we need to get “out there” and be the hands and feet of Jesus.
And certainly any time we help “the least of these,” we are blessing someone and serving Christ himself.
Week of Hope also is a great opportunity to get to know some of our local ministry partners and get involved on an ongoing basis – organizations such as International Friendship Ministries, Heal the World Thrift Store, Open Door Community House and Sound Choices Pregnancy Clinic.
We’re working with eight ministry partners in all this week, but that’s only a small segment of the organizations we link arms with throughout the year. Visit our Around the City page for a look at all of our area partners, and click the "Contact" link if one of them stirs your heart to help.
As for Week of Hope, we’ve been comparing it to a mission trip, with a few key differences to make participation easier: 1) It’s right here in Columbus; 2) It doesn’t require hundreds of dollars in expenses; and 3) You can do it in two-hour increments – shifts at 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. each day (Monday-Thursday).
You can find all the details, including information on each partner/work project, right here. Pick a shift – or two, or more, even – and get out there!
By Allen Allnoch
More than 300 people gathered – converged – in Columbus over the weekend to hear a powerhouse lineup of speakers and have conversations about unity in diversity.
The occasion was the Converge 2:14 conference, inspired by the words of Ephesians 2:14 – “For [Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.”
Dr. John M. Perkins, civil rights pioneer and founder of the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation, spoke at the conference’s closing session Saturday night, and again during morning worship services at Christ Community Church Sunday morning.
At the latter, Dr. Perkins shared the story of seeing his brother die, shot by a law enforcement officer, and of his own unjust jailing and torture at the hands of police in his native Mississippi. He saw two choices before him: Retribution and hate, or forgiveness and love.
“If I had a grenade, I would have pulled the plug and killed us all,” he recalled. “Then I saw that my heart was just as bad. I saw that white people were broken and black people were broken. I said, ‘God, forgive me first. I want to preach a gospel that is about love.’”
Simply put, Perkins said, only the redemptive power of Jesus Christ will overcome the sin of racism. He reminded listeners of how Peter was forced to confront his prejudice against Gentiles, as related in Acts chapter 10. No “equal opportunity or affirmative action” program would do; Peter “needed the Gospel,” Perkins said. “The Gospel calls us to a higher standard.”
Likewise, Christians today must look to Christ and, in His power, invest in each other’s lives.
“We gotta do more than drink coffee together,” Perkins said. “We gotta do more than wash each other's feet. I like to drink coffee and I like foot-washing, but we gotta do more. We need to confess our sins one to another. Instead of looking for somebody to hate, we need to look for somebody to love. Then people will know we are Christians.”
Other takeaways from Converge 2:14 speakers included:
And this from a conference attendee, who tweeted, “I was so fired UP from the @Converge214 conference, I skipped the [closing session] to hit the block in my hood with the Gospel.”
May we all be so motivated to put our faith in action and seek to break down the dividing wall of hostility.
By Allen Allnoch
Never discuss religion or politics in polite company,” goes the old saying. Whoever came up with that maxim could have added race to the list of taboos. All three topics are fertile ground for harsh words and hurt feelings.
But facing, rather than ignoring, the difficult issues can result in much good. Such was the case here at CCC, where a small but diverse group of members had the courage to launch an extended discussion about race relations.
Indeed, there were painful moments. But those conversations ultimately produced deeper, richer relationships, as well as the groundwork for an event that promises to impact not just one church body, but also the city and region that surround it.
On May 6-7 CCC will host Converge 2:14, a conference on unity in diversity in the Church. The idea is to “Converge” around the promises of Ephesians 2:14 – “For [Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” – and lay a foundation for a Church that is “Separate No More,” the conference’s tagline.
Converge 2:14 features a lineup of influential voices on the topic, including Dr. John Perkins, Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Pastor Bryan Loritts and his father, Dr. Crawford Loritts, Dr. Korie Edwards and Dr. John Fuder. CCC Lead Pastor Keith Cowart also will speak, Executive Pastor Derrick Shields will serve as conference host, and worship leader Dewayne Creswell has assembled several teams from a variety of backgrounds and musical styles.
Throughout its nearly 20-year history, one of CCC’s core values has been “Unity in Diversity.” Cowart and Shields have preached sermon series on racial unity, and Shields, on several occasions, has led a class called “In Loving Color.”
One of those occasions was in fall of 2014, with the class reading and discussing a book edited by the younger Loritts, “Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” About 20 participants had “some great conversations, and some hard conversations,” Shields recalls. “As we continued to work through that book together, we got past the hard conversations and got to be good friends.”
During that process, the group learned of a conference on multi-ethnic churches, Kainos, that would take place in Memphis, Tennessee the following spring. Sixteen people from CCC attended and were encouraged by what they heard – so much that, Shields says, “we just couldn’t get away from the idea of creating something similar in Columbus. So the first call we made was to Bryan Loritts [who had spoken at Kainos], to see if he would even be able to come, and he said yes. We started contacting other speakers and they said yes, and it’s just continued on from there.”
Just as Converge 2:14 was born out of a series of conversations within CCC, Shields hopes it generates further dialogue on a larger scale.
“We want to get people talking to one another,” he says, “to get some practical ideas on how we, His church, can start to remove this dividing wall of hostility and minister to our communities.
“Since the Free Methodist Church is growing and making some headway in the South, I think this conference is timely for our denomination as well,” Shields adds. “The Free Methodist Church was born out of a belief that slavery wasn’t right, so it’s in our heritage as Free Methodists, this whole social issue of racial equality and unity.”
To learn more, visit converge214.org.
On the homepage of our Led to Lead Leadership Conference website, Pastor Keith Cowart wrote: “God wants to use church leaders to influence and shape the culture of a faith community in ways that maximize its ability to live out its values and realize its mission. To that end, Led to Lead offers main sessions and breakouts that not only inspire, but offer concrete examples of that kind of leadership in action.”
Little did Keith know that one of his main session topics – “Building a Culture of Leadership Development” – would be demonstrated in such a highly visible way during the conference.
When the event began on Thursday, February 26, Keith had developed a sore throat. As the day wore on and he delivered three main session talks, his condition worsened. By Friday morning, he could barely speak.
Enter Kelli Wommack, CCC’s Pastor of Leadership Development. Kelli is truly a product of CCC’s leadership development culture, and she stepped in admirably for Keith and delivered an outstanding message on the topic on Friday morning.
Similarly, Pastor Derrick Shields pinch-hit for Keith in the closing session on Friday night, challenging the audience to not just “go to church, but start being the church” and calling for God’s people to stand as one regardless of denominational and doctrinal differences.
More than 100 people representing over 40 churches and ministries attended the event. In seeing Keith, Kelli and Derrick lead as they did, they witnessed a key component of CCC’s culture being played out before their very eyes.
The CCC Blog is a collection of writings and images from staff members and guest contributors, all pointing to the extraordinary life made possible by a relationship with Jesus.