“No Need Among You” conference spreads love in Waco

Dr. Stephanie Boddie, assistant professor of Church and Community Ministries for the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, George W. Truett Theological Seminary and the School of Education, spoke on congregation-based social service and approaches to address disparities in wealth, health and food insecurity. Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

By Maddie Gee | Reporter

The poverty rate in Waco is currently 27.5 percent, over one fourth of the city’s population, according to the U.S. Census. On Baylor’s campus, people can go and serve, through multiple organizations such as NAACP, Greek life on campus or even alone. The “No Need Among You” conference held in Waco this past weekend addressed the poverty rate by showing its participants what they can do to fight it.

According to the Texas Christian Community Development Network, the conference has been sponsored for several years by “a growing group of Christian nonprofit organizations and churches … who wanted to make a difference for and with the poor and disenfranchised in their own communities.” The conference has speakers, workshops and ministry tours and is able to provide tools — for example learning through other participants and speakers — or for individuals to better serve the world around them.

Fort Worth sophomore Mariah Goodspeed sees the Baylor community as the perfect group of people to reach out.

“It is essential to create groups of people to go out and serve in the community while we are here at school,” Goodspeed said.

Goodspeed acknowledged that there is still much work to be done for the impoverished in the community. The conference this past weekend helps get participants ready to get their hands dirty.

Executive director of the event Rucker Preston said the conference is extremely important to the Waco community.

“We want to go to cities where good community development work is taking place. I think what it means for Waco is that they are on the cutting edge of real community development in Texas and sharing the gospel in a very holistic way through the environment, job creation, education and immigration. It shows that they are very much on the cutting edge of seeing the gospel come and seeing the Kingdom of Heaven come here on Earth” Preston said.

“No Need Among You” shows others how they can make the world a better place for everyone through God’s love and service to the community. Along with witnessing the impact the conference has had on other Texas communities, the conference has had a personal impact on Preston.

“I started going just as a participant back in 2010, and I started leading workshops in 2014. I then started directing the conference last year. It fills me with hope and joy to see that there are people in small towns like Atlanta, Texas and big urban centers like Third Ward in Houston that are investing their lives in places that are not posh or safe. They are investing their lives in communities that do not have a lot of resources, infrastructure or safety sometimes. I love to see the lives of others come up alongside them,” Preston said.

While the conference has helped numerous people lead their communities in a positive direction, Preston is already looking forward to the future.

“Next year we are going to be in Dallas in November. It is not about having a successful conference, it is about having a conference that works as a catalyst for people to network, learn from each other and to change their practice throughout the year,” Preston said.