From Mississippi South Region of Fourth Episcopal District (CME)“For these are all our children; we will all profit by or pay for what they become.” James Baldwin
Children in the Mississippi South Region of the Fourth Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, under the Super Leadership of Bishop Thomas L. Brown, Sr., are not waiting for the TV Superman because they have Super Churches with Super Heroes who are busy doing things for them that really save the day!
In this struggling economy, many families are not equipped with the resources to purchase the necessary school supplies, materials, and uniforms that their children will need at the start and throughout the school year. Not having those and other things makes for low self-esteem in these children, which aids in their being at risk for failure before they even begin the school year. However, with seemingly super human powers, speed faster than a locomotive, and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, Super Churches featured in this story are not just saving the day, but saving the year by fulfilling those educational needs.
During the third weekend in August in Centreville, MS, Super Heroes of the Winans Chapel CME Church pastored by the Rev. Maxine Price have their annual, “ Back Packs for Jesus Giveaway” which benefits the needs of children in the church and the community. In memory of young adult member, Adrian Lee, who died from breast cancer, member Linda Lee, while fondly referring to Centreville as God’s Country, stated that the giveaway day is a day of activities “to strengthen the whole child; mind, body, soul, and spirit” as they prepare for the challenges of the new school year. According to youth director, Maria Montgomery, Back Packs for Jesus is a youth department project that involves all the members of the church. All of the new back packs are filled with basic school supplies. However, a few contain an added bonus of “surprise cash” whereby the fortunate recipients of them can go shopping for “want” items. She adds that the back pack giveaway is Winans Chapel’s way of “encouraging the children to do well, to stay strong, to put Jesus first, and to know that the church will always support them.”
At the Lynch Street CME Church in Jackson, MS, pastored by the Rev. Dr. Charles Holbrook, Presiding Elder of the Gloster-Hattiesburg District, members make their computer lab and church library available to the church and community children throughout the week. The use of the lab and library are a response to the need of children who do not have or can not afford home computers or the required school reading books, especially the ones they must read and complete writing assignments and projects on across the summer. Children and parents can use the computers to research topics and engage in on-line activities. They also have access to the church library, which has copies of the K-12 required reading books for students in the Jackson Public and surrounding school districts, as well as other books that can be checked out by children and parents throughout the school year. Lynch St. CME Church Sunday School members, encouraged by Superintendent Patricia Anderson, are likewise empowering children at risk for poverty. Based on their schedule, individual class members of one Sunday school class visit, read to, and mentor at Isabel Elementary School monthly. While another Sunday school class makes a group monthly visit to girls at a youth detention center. In addition, the church also partners with Blackburn Middle School through the CME Church “One Church, One School” Initiative.
St. James CME Church in Hattiesburg, MS, where the Rev. Wilhemina Winston is pastor, continues to do amazingly heroic things through members on-going service projects with Lillie Burney Elementary School that began over four years ago. To promote literacy and the school’s Accelerated Reading Program, the Real Heroes at St. James provide two new computers a year to help encourage children, especially low socio-economic children to read more. Church member Clarence Magee, a retired educator, mentor, and advocate, believes that churches need to develop a relationship of love with children. He states, “If we want to make a real difference as a church and individually, we are going to have to reach out and touch and extend our love with much passion that children will feel we love them. We can do this by getting involved; go where they are and establish a one-on-one relationship with them and their family.” He concludes by saying, “Material giving is fine, but what children need is a relationship with a mentor and we have to invest personal time to develop that.”
As a collective body, Super Heroes from all three districts of the Mississippi South Region, at the request of the Board of Christian Education Director, Frank Morris, kicked off the Region’s commitment to the Campaign for Children in Poverty by bringing school supplies and uniforms to the September 24, 2011, Board of Christian Education Workshop which was held at Lynch St. CME Church. The items were collected and distributed to children in inner-city Jackson.
So, no! There is “No TV Superman, Just Super Churches” committed to empower children in need in the Mississippi South Region of the CME Church. This writing only highlighted a few. However, there are many more Super Churches in the Region that don’t have to put on special suits to protect hurting children, don’t have to have special powers to fight against the evil that surrounds children, and don’t have to run to a telephone booth to change clothes in order to save the day. Churches don’t have to do those things because the” Real Superman,” who is three in one – the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, gives them all the power they need to champion children at risk to poverty; thereby saving the day, everyday! Patsy Holbrook, Region Coordinator