Ed believes that there are great stories being told on every street and corner in the Magic City. The good people of Greater New Antioch Baptist Church (GNABC) tell and create stories through leading, loving and serving others. If you visit with them, you’ll see members tutoring students, hosting youth council meetings, singing beautifully during choir practice, and serving the church and surrounding Ensley community in numerous other ways. The church believes wholeheartedly that ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ and the members act on this passion partly because of the example of leadership set for them by their pastor, Dr. E.O. Jackson.
“When I was growing up,” Dr. Jackson says, “My community played a vital role in raising me and my siblings. There were expectations, and everyone played a role ensuring we met them.”
Now, Jackson leads a church that takes its role as the “village” very seriously. During the past few months, Ed had the distinct pleasure of partnering with Greater New to live out this role together.
In the fall, Ed began a discussion with Dr. Jackson and his assistant, Ms. Dorothy Burl, about hosting a Raise Up! for Education Community Chat at GNABC. What we learned is that this was already a vibrant conversation occurring in and around the church community. The church is made of many retired educators, some who run the church’s STAIR afterschool reading program. Many members also mentor Birmingham students in their free time. Lisa and Desmond Smoot who both grew up in the church now help run the church’s youth council.
We know that our kids are our future,” says Smoot. “We make sure that our kids are actively involved in the church and in the community, and that their voices are heard.”
Along with receiving individual support, children at Greater New are also encouraged to influence their peers and the community around them.
On December 11th, Ed and Greater New hosted the Raise Up! Chat and close to 100 community residents and church members were present. Ms. Thomasine Hightower, church member and leader, led a gracious crew of cooks in serving a delicious spaghetti dinner. The topic of the chat was “The Village: Looking Back to Look Forward”. During the chat, students, parents, local residents, teachers and the business community had the opportunity to raise up their ideas, hopes, concerns and experiences as members of the village. What was heard? A common desire to be present in the lives of all kids in order to ensure that they are able to realize their potential, hopes and dreams.
Ed is so thankful to be a partner with Greater New Baptist Church. We are excited that by continuing our partnership, the hopes and dreams of all Birmingham’s kids will become more of a reality.
See more pictures from our December Raise Up! Chat here.