NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — “When I was naked you clothed me, when I was hungry you fed me, when I was sick you took care of me.”
From the book of Matthew, Dr. Keith Jones, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church just outside downtown Norfolk, set the scene for an event he created 13 years ago.
Over a period of 143 years, Shiloh has stood strong as disparities — financial, educational, and medical — frayed the fabric of surrounding neighborhoods just outside downtown Norfolk.
“For the most part, we have a lot of inequity when it comes to health care,” said Keia Spence, the new chairwoman of the church’s health care ministry, during an interview outside the historic church at the corner of Park and Brambleton avenues, “and we have a lot of people who don’t have access to the things that are available for them.”
Since 2010 Shiloh, with its annual Community Service Day and Free Market, has clothed the naked, fed the hungry and taken care of the sick with critical health screenings.
“Breast cancer can be a number one killer for African-American women that diagnose at a lower rate but die at a higher rate,” Jones said.
But there’s another health risk that makes the headlines every day.
“So we’ve met people here and they’ve come here and they talk about gun violence; so we tried our best to address some of those things,” Jones said as he explained how Community Day has adapted to community needs over the years.
The silent killers — such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol — will be addressed along with breast, colon, and cancer, sex abuse, sex trafficking, and HIV.
10 On Your Side has offered coverage of this lifesaving event over the years. The 2023 event may be the last Community Service Day Jones hosts, as he plans to retire next spring.
“I want to thank WAVY-TV for helping us grow this,” Jones said. “In fact, we will have people waiting outside the gate tomorrow morning when we do this. We used to, as I have said, go out and look for agencies to come [to the Community Service Day ].
“The fortunate thing now, agencies call us and ask us when is Community Service Day. I pray that after these years of being pastor, we’ve caught the passion to recognize that the future of the church is not wrapped up in people coming. The future of the church is wrapped up in going out into the community.”
The gates to Shiloh Baptist Church open at 9 a.m. Saturday. The free and open-to-the-public event runs until 1 p.m. For more information, call 757-625-4367.