ESSEX — On the grounds outside the Baltimore locale of Iglesia Ni Cristo in Essex on Tuesday night, signs were hung, food was served and congregants assembled to honor the 107th anniversary of the Church of Christ. As a way to celebrate the momentous occasion, the church gave away goodwill packages to guests that contained a faith-based publication, hygiene and dental care toiletries and other miscellaneous items.

“Like the Bible says, it is more blessed to give than to receive,” resident minister Abel Docina said. “The Almighty God is the giver of all good things, and we try to extend that to others.”

The planned gifts were part of the church’s “Aid to Humanity” program, an outreach event series held throughout the global Church in which free aid is given to others in the service of God. But last night, however, was special, because it marked the anniversary of the Church, Docina said, and to celebrate, church members contributed money to purchase items for the gifts.

“We wanted to reach out to others and help those who may be in need,” Docina said. “It is Biblical to promote the will of God and help others.”

The effort, according to assistant district minister Carlitos Medina, is also part of the evangelical outreach of the Church to share God’s word with friends, neighbors and those who may not be Church members, so that they might fully understand the purpose of the Church and receive salvation.

“It is about proclaiming the message of salvation, and informing others about God’s teachings and how to serve God properly and receive God’s blessings, most especially salvation,” Medina said.

As guests arrived at the event, volunteer church members would greet them near the entrance to ask them to sign in with contact information. This was for the church to know who was benefitting from the gifts and invite the guests back for a Bible study or worship service.

“The role of the church is spiritual direction,” Docina said. “Material things last for maybe a week or month, but what people really need is to be spiritually uplifted. And that is what we are trying to do.”

Before volunteers handed out the gits, Medina introduced the church and its teachings, shared the faith and prayed over the offerings to the guests. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges around the world, Medina said, the Church of Christ and its people have decided to help their fellow man.

“It is stated in the Holy Scriptures that whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it,” Medina said. “We return all of the glory and honor to our Almighty God.”

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