Students in the Center Point community in northeast Birmingham will be starting school well-equipped and in style, thanks to Brownsville United Methodist Church. They were provided with book bags filled with school supplies, two complete school uniforms including socks, shoes, undergarments, belts, dental supplies, personal hygiene items and haircuts in addition to educational sessions, all part of Brownsville’s Back-to-School Ministry 2009 Education Seminar.
Rev. Clinton Hubbard saw a need in the community and initiated an effort to fill that need. With the help and support of his congregation and a few friends, Brownsville's first Back-to-School Ministry was held August 8, 2009. "It was a day we will all remember," said Mary Guest Hollis, Brownsville's education chair. "We were to begin our educational seminars at 10 a.m., yet members were present as early as 7 a.m. preparing to engage with our community."
"This ministry event is a great testimonial to our living out our vision and mission of being a worshipping, working, and witnessing congregation as we seek to make a difference in the lives of our community," said Rev. Hubbard. His plan is to make the event an annual one. The back-to-school ministry is the latest effort the church is making to live out the conference priority to empower a new generation. Already in place are a college scholarship program and youth-led Sunday services once a month.
In addition to the school supplies and uniforms, parents and students received vital information on available school resources, following directions, listening skills and how to have an effective parent-teacher conference. A representative of the local school board informed parents of attendance laws and requirements. He also went over the Student Code of Conduct. Firefighters representing Birmingham Engine 28 presented safety tips, demonstrated how to use a fire extinguisher, and distributed vouchers for free smoke detectors.
Parents and students alike were very appreciative of Brownsville's efforts, as each student left with his or her own personal box that had been packed with a lot of love by the members of the congregation. The young men and boys were treated to free haircuts and all left with smiles, ready to begin the school year looking and feeling great. More than 100 members of the local community were served. "What churches do in the community is a strong and certain indicator of church health," said Central Distrcit Superintendent Rev. Ron Schultz. "Thanks for healthy practices, Brownsville."
"We acknowledge and appreciate the endless hours of preparation that went into making our first back-to-school ministry effort a success," said Mrs. Hollis. "Our church members really supported and enjoyed this project. We were blessed by the opportunity to give of our time and talents to assist with such a worthy cause, and look forward to expanding this ministry as we continue to strive to do the will of God."