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First Baptist workers help at Metro Baptist in Hell’s Kitchen

A long-term commitment took members of First Baptist Church of Madison to Hell’s Kitchen in New York City.

First Baptist workers visited the 9/11 memorial. (Photo courtesy of Mary Jo Gessner)

Coordinating First Baptist’s fourth trip to Metro Baptist Church were Rev. Mary Jo Gessner, minister of pastoral care, and Mark Gessner, minister of music.

In seminary, the Gessners learned a literal textbook case about Metro Baptist adapting to neighborhood needs. Located near Times Square, this five-story building sees locals coming in and out at all hours.

First Baptist workers repaired Metro Baptist’s facility, allowing that congregation to continue its proven, effective work with projects, like Head Start, an after-school teen center, “Metro and The Arts” and programs for feeding, clothing and farming, Mark said. Their rooftop community garden has 26 plastic pools to teach children about gardening and sharing food.

The team tiled a back-splash, finished flooring, cleaned and painted the teen center and built cabinets for a weekday children’s ministry. “We finished each project, except doors on shelves. We were happy with our progress,” Mark said.

Madison parishioners included Ginger Maynard, Carolyn Carpino, Susie Vance, Robyn Long, Fred Carr, Lenny Vance, Vyga Culpa, Coy Gayle and the Gessners.

Building anything substantial is difficult in Manhattan. They rented a vehicle to drive to New Jersey, precut all material and unloaded at a Lincoln Tunnel exit, next to the Port Authority. “New Yorkers love to honk! There’s a level of adrenaline and teamwork that’s addictive on mission trips,” Mark said.

New Yorkers are some of the friendliest people in America, Mark said. “They realize people walking around in bright clothing with maps and a lost look are integral to making the city work.”

Formerly, Metro Baptist was a Polish Catholic Church. “Their stained glass windows have seen a century’s worth of parishioners who have brought Christ’s love to the Hell’s Kitchen community,” Mary Jo said.

Painting was one task for First Baptist members in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Mary Jo Gessner)

On their first trip, Madison volunteers painted Metro Baptist’s sanctuary — “a huge undertaking. We completed the job, got to know the city better and ended up falling in love with both,” Mary Jo said.

For more information, visit fbcmadison.net or Facebook/First Baptist Church Madison.

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