Minister: ‘I wanted congregation to experience this wonderful mission’
Profoundly affected by her 2015 volunteer experience at “Home Mission: ’Til the Work is Done” in New Orleans, the Rev. Carmen Jordan, minister of Mission and Outreach at Pilgrim Baptist Church, Rockford, Ill., returned in 2016 with a group of volunteers from her church.
“When I came last year, I was so deeply moved by the stories I heard,” she said. “And I wanted my congregation to experience this wonderful mission and hear the stories of how God is moving here [in New Orleans].”
Among other jobs throughout the week, the group of five—Jordan, Deacon Chris Morris, Valerie Carter, London Smith and Vretia Smith—worked at “Grow On Community Garden,” where they organized planters; cleaned the planter bin; cut, bundled and organized brush; and redesigned the fountain.
On another morning, they played beat-the-clock at KIPP New Orleans Leadership and Primary Academy, as they tackled the tedious-but-important task of making master copies of a reading book to be returned to its owner by noon. That assignment was followed by making additional teachers’ copies as well as student copies, and then binding each one via machine.
“Last year, the reverend was here, and I heard about the devastation [from the hurricanes],” Morris said, as he jumped right in and masterfully programmed the copier, readying it for the challenge ahead. “As deacon, one of the charges is to serve. I wanted to do my part. I enjoy it.”
Stressing the labor’s significance, Alex Turvey, school operations manager, explained that the school—which serves kindergarten through eighth grade—was to open the following week and that teachers needed to focus on other preparations and visits to students’ homes.
“KIPP’s network of charter schools takes underserved student populations and makes great schools for them,” he said.
The money saved by making copies instead of purchasing books would be put to good use, he assured the group.
As she worked at another copier, London Smith said of the New Orleans mission experience: “Working with people is a different way of loving God.”
Jordan said she intends to return to New Orleans for “Home Mission: ’Til the Work is Done” in 2017.
“I’m hoping our group will continue to grow each time,” she said. “We’ll go back and tell about it, and others will be so compelled that they’ll want to come experience it for themselves.”
To meet more of 2016’s “Home Mission: ’Til the Work is Done” volunteers and those they’ve helped, see the following:
- ABHMS continues ‘Home Mission: ’Til the Work is Done’ 11 years after hurricanes devastate New Orleans