On its 10th anniversary, the Coats for the City initiative saw close to 4,000 coats given to families and individuals throughout New York City and Jersey City, N.J., on Saturday, Dec. 4. North Carolina Baptists have teamed up with New York City church plants to distribute a total of almost 70,000 coats during the last decade.
Last weekend, about 100 North Carolina Baptists traveled to New York with more than 2,400 collected coats to distribute in partnership with the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association (MNYBA). The South Carolina Baptist Convention also joined the effort for the first time this year. South Carolina Baptist volunteers donated another 1,000 coats.
Coats for the City resumed this year after it was canceled in 2020 because of concerns related to COVID-19.
The effort began in 2011 with one church distributing about 600 coats through what was then called Coats for Queens. This year, churches and North Carolina volunteers set up at 18 locations, which included churches, parks, schools and community centers. At some sites, coats were gone within half an hour.
Volunteers offered warm drinks and snacks. They also prayed for and shared the gospel with recipients.
Some individuals who received coats visited one of the churches during a worship service the next day, said George Russ, MNYBA executive director. Russ also heard reports of people coming to faith as a result of Coats for the City.
“We can’t do this without the North Carolina Baptists,” Russ said. “It would be impossible. They know our churches very well.”
“Gospel seeds were planted by the thousands, and over the course of the past weekend, many bore fruit and were harvested for God’s glory.” — Chuck Register
Bartley Wooten, senior pastor at Beulaville Baptist Church, joined a group of 10 people from Beulaville, N.C., in New York. Their team split up to partner with Swerve Church in Brooklyn and Willowbrook Church in Staten Island, working alongside pastors and church families to pass out coats in the two communities.
“As a pastor, it is really meaningful knowing you are encouraging the church planters and the members of their church,” Wooten said. “For (Beulaville) folks, they loved meeting and helping the people in those communities. In many ways, it is the perfect introduction to someone who has never been on a mission trip.”
Other North Carolina Baptist volunteers came from Buies Creek First Baptist Church, Crosslink Community Church in Mebane, Dudley Shoals Baptist Church in Granite Falls, East Taylorsville Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Summerfield, New Friendship Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, Pleasant Garden Baptist Church, Rich Fork Baptist Church in Thomasville, and South Elm Baptist Church in Greensboro.
Chuck Register, director of the Missions Catalysts group of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, thanked North Carolina Baptists for their heart for God’s kingdom.
“The passionate, missionary heart of North Carolina Baptists can never be underestimated,” Register said. “Gospel seeds were planted by the thousands, and over the course of the past weekend, many bore fruit and were harvested for God’s glory.”