You’ve seen it in dozens of Wild West frontier scenarios: The legendary sheriff has tamed the savage, wide-open settlement, and gunplay in the street is outlawed. Broken glass is swept up, a barrel of apples appears on the sidewalk outside the local dry goods store. Almost in the next breath, the families gather to build two buildings: a schoolhouse and a church.
Throughout our country’s history, it has been the foundation of towns and neighborhoods to have a quiet place of prayer. In these buildings, filled by those of many faiths, our shared identity has been forged. Church has often been called on to fill the role of our “best neighbor” – entrusted with comforting the heavy of heart, rejoicing in our blessings…with sheltering the lost and giving guidance to the troubled.
In our neighborhood, the interaction of church with community is a radiant example of how today, perhaps more than ever, families benefit from this time-honored “shelter from the storm.”
Here spiritual leaders step outside the sanctuary walls to tutor at-risk children in our public schools, to paint houses, to make sandwiches at a nearby shelter. These same churches throw open their doors to host immunization clinics, to collect food and clothing for those in need; they invite dozens of community groups to come inside to meet, plan, argue, compromise and celebrate.
To learn more, the Lake Highlands Advocate contacted all places of worship in our circulation area and asked them to send us a note responding to the following question: “How are you a good neighbor to the community?”
Here are the responses we received.
Bethel Lutheran Church
11211 E. Northwest Highway
Bethel Lutheran Church has been a neighbor for 46 years. We are the home to 850 members, hundreds of visitors, support groups, Crime Watch neighborhood groups, and even the Little League’s baseball park.
We are dedicated to providing a safe, nurturing environment for our Bethel Early Learning Center daycare program (infants through pre-school and summer school age). The church outreach program supports needy groups such as the White Rock Center of Hope, the Network of Community Ministries (Richardson) and Trinity Ministries (Dallas) by providing food, clothing, and financial assistance.
Neighbors can receive counseling services, free flu shots, donate at our Blood Drive, and bring the family to our annual Fall Carnival.
Wednesdays are “Fun Nights,” which begin with food, recreation and fellowship and then continue with choir practice, child/teen programs, Bible study and prayer.
Our doors are open to all – unconditionally
J.W. Hammett, Director, Communications Board
White Rock United Methodist Church
1450 Old Gate Lane
Thank you for the invitation to tell the neighborhood something about our church.
During the month of June, our volunteers in mission painted the home and cleaned the yard of one of our senior citizen neighbors, through the cooperation of “People Helping People.”
Also in June, our church sponsored an immunization clinic that provided for health needs of more than 50 children in our neighborhood.
June was a busy month. We opened our doors to our children in the neighborhood with Vacation Bible School during the evenings.
We support the White Rock Center of Hope with financial assistance and volunteers.
Our prayer chapel is open daily, and our members feel called by God to serve our community, as Christ calls us to help those in need. We feel blessed with a call to service through worship, education and spiritual growth.
Michael R. Jackson, Senior Pastor
Central Lutheran Church
1000 Easton Rd.
At Central Lutheran, our understanding of faith draws us deeply to a knowledge and experience of God, yet does not allow us to remain there. Faith pushes us into the communities of our world – rather of God’s world.
“Who is my neighbor?” is answered in a number of ways:
- At Hexter Elementary, a dozen members volunteer as tutors/mentors to Hispanic, African-American, Bosnian, Eritrean and other new-to-the-U.S. students.
- Monday and Wednesday is our low-cost Kid’s Day Out program.
- Grocery/clothing items are collected for disbursal at White Rock Center of Hope, 9353 Garland Road, founded by the late Donagene Christian, Central member.
- Used books are gathered and distributed through the Greater Dallas Community of Churches.
- We have an annual school-supply drive and a Christmas socks/mitten decorated tree for Emanuel Lutheran, near Downtown.
- Our church members hand-make 100+ quilts to distribute yearly for the needy here and as far away as Sierra Leone.
John S. Hillmer, Pastor
Lake Highlands Presbyterian Church
8525 Audelia Road
Our church was established to serve its community. It was officially organized in 1999, and is centrally located in the heart of Lake Highlands as the only Presbyterian church between LBJ, Northwest Highway and Central Expressway. The church unites members of three former Presbyterian congregations. We are a richly diverse congregation reflecting the rich diversity of the community.
We are unique among neighborhood churches – we maintain two locations. At these two campuses, we are able to meet the needs of both congregation and community with ministries and programs such as the Lake Highlands (formerly Northminster) Child Development Center at 9400 Plano Road and Mom’s Day Out at 8525 Audelia Road, which is also our worship center.
Lake Highlands Presbyterian is a new church with strong roots.
Good Samaritan Episcopal Church
1522 Highland Road
Dear neighbors, let us tell you about those people in that little church on Highland Road!
We are committed to Our Lord, committed to handson outreach, and committed to each other.
On Sundays we have only one service at 10:15 a.m.; a small “one room” church school at 10:15 a.m.; adult Christian education at 9 a.m.; and a nursery.
Our outreach is quite remarkable. We collect food for the AIDS Resource Center and have strong volunteer involvement in the White Rock Center of Hope and in the Ferguson Road Initiative. Many persons are involved in making sandwiches (and serving them) at the Austin Street Shelter once a month.
Working with “For the Love of the Lake” (White Rock), we are responsible for keeping the park south of the spillway clean. Our Meeting Hall is often used by community groups for meetings and parties.
We put on a big annual garage sale in the spring. And we get together for fun! Mardi Gras, Christmas, and sometimes Halloween. We recently had a church-sponsored Thanksgiving dinner.
Bill Graf, Senior Warden
Lakeview Christian Church
At Lakeview Christian Church, we try to “love our neighbors as ourselves” by reaching out as many neighborly hands as possible.
For 18 years, we have been the host site for the White Rock Senior Center, which provides area seniors with a nutritional daily meal and fun activities Monday through Friday.
Since January 1989, we have been the site location for Family Outreach of East Dallas Inc. by providing free supportive and educational services. This center, in cooperation with Dallas Child Protective Services, works to strengthen families and break the cycle of abuse and neglect.
We also provide a meeting place for the Little Forest Hills Neighborhood Association and (for seven years) the Primera Iglesia Babtista Biblica.
Our denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is the oldest protestant denomination founded on American soil, and understands herself to be “not the only Christians, but Christians only.”
We are a friendly, caring congregation that genuinely enjoys being neighborly toward each other and to our community in the name of Christ.
Rick Linn, Senior Minister
Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist
6414 Abrams Road
Because Jesus’ commands to love God supremely, and our neighbor as ourselves, are direct laws to Christian Scientists, our love is expressed in these ways:
- A public suite of rooms where anyone can quietly pray, read the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy, is open six days and one evening every week in Casa Linda Plaza.
- Missionaries, called Practitioners, are available 24 hours a day to help anyone realize the Christ-filled power of prayer in their lives.
- Free public talks are given that apply prayer to such subjects as racism, poverty, crime, addiction, abuse, fear, doubt and loneliness.
- We hold testimony meetings Wednesday noon and evening, where proof is offered that Christ heals today.
- We have Sunday Services and Sunday School, where everyone is lovingly welcomed and devout attention is given to inquiries.
Bonnie Tuel, Member of Five Generations of Christian Scientists