Bolden, 65, a member of nearby Evening Star Missionary BaptistChurch in the Englewood community, and Cooper, 46, a member of SecondBaptist Church in Springfield, Mo., had little in common, but they cametogether for one day to share their mutual Christian faith.
"Remember, God loves you," the woman told a couple with their twoyoung children as they met on the sidewalk, handing the family "TheBook of Hope," which included Scripture verses along with a tape of herchurch's choir. "Introduce them to Jesus."
A few blocks later, Cooper approached two young boys with theirhandouts.
"Jesus has got a plan for your life and part of that is for you toknow him as your best friend," he told them. "Think about it, guys.This is a big, important decision."
Bolden, Cooper, and Cooper's 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, were justone of many teams of Southern Baptists who evangelized throughout theChicago metropolitan area as part of SearchLight, the Saturday eventthat highlighted the Southern Baptist Convention's goal to create moreconverts and churches in the Windy City and its environs.
Southern Baptist officials estimate that 5,000 volunteers convergedon the metropolitan area to lead hundreds of events. From block partiesto free car washes to construction projects, faith in action was themode for the day.
But the numbers were far lower than Baptist organizers hadoriginally hoped. The Chicago Metropolitan Baptist Association declaredin a brochure that "we are praying for 100,000 volunteers to come as'lights' to saturate the metro area with the love of Jesus."
Officials downplayed their hopes for such high numbers but said theyweren't disappointed with the turnout of volunteers from SouthernBaptist and other evangelical churches.
"One hundred thousand was a vision for the entire year," saidMartin King, spokesman for the Southern Baptist North American MissionBoard, which initiated the event. "And we don't know what we'll havethe rest of the year."
Some Southern Baptist officials said the event was helped rather than hurt by theCouncil of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, which drewattention to it by writing to former SBC President Paige Pattersonurging that the denomination modify plans for sending evangelizingvolunteers to the city.
The council, which originally was concerned thatBaptists would target Muslims and Jews, did not monitor SearchLightafter Baptists assured them there would not be targeting of specificgroups.
"We have no formal efforts out there," said the Rev. Paul Rutgers,the council's executive director, in a phone interview Saturday."Things are unfolding this weekend pretty routinely."
The teamwork of predominantly black Evening Star and predominantlywhite Second Baptist included block parties at two locations offChicago's 59th Street, as well as door-to-door evangelism.
As the Coopers and Bolden made their rounds in their red T-shirts,neighborhood reception ranged from rejection to hearty affirmation.
A teenager who stood with his arms folded throughout their briefchat said afterward he respected their attempts but wasn't interested.
"It's good helping out people, but I won't become no Christian,"said Ronnie Shepherd, 17, a high school senior.
Seventy-six-year-old Fred Burns, on the other hand, flipped thepages of the well-worn Bible on his lap as he sat on his front stoop tofind verses in Luke that spoke of Jesus being called "to preach theGospel to the poor."
"If he's doing this, he's doing the work of the Lord," Burns saidof Cooper.
Phil Harris, 35, an engineer who serves as director of evangelismfor Second Baptist, came back with the kind of success story Baptistshope for.
"I had three decisions for the Lord," he said of a single motherand two teenage boys he met at the beginning and end of hisneighborhood tour with another elder of Evening Star. "I feel great.It's a good feeling when the Lord's allowed you to impact someone foreternity."
Though the Coopers and Bolden did not have as direct results, theysaid they hoped they had planted "seeds" that would bloom intoChristian faith.
Bolden said in her last four weeks of regular evangelism in otherneighborhoods, just one of the people she met showed up for a service atEvening Star.
"If I hadn't went out, then would she have come?" she asked."God's got his own time. It's going to be whenever he gets ready."
At Grant Park, the downtown park bordering Lake Michigan, a couplehundred Baptists and other evangelicals gathered for a multicultural"praise and prayer" time at the conclusion of their day of evangelism.