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Religious organizations to host banquet fund-raisers

By Staff
BANQUET PREPARATIONS Sylvia Hopkins, left, Margaret Brown, Treacy Croft and Stephanie Robinson, members of the East Mississippi Baptist State Ministers Wives and Widows Alliance, plan the menu and decorations for the second annual banquet to raise money for a scholarship. The banquet will be Oct. 30 at East Central Community College. It is part of a convention of about 200 churches from Oct. 28 through Nov. 1. PHOTO BY CARISA MCCAIN / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Ida Brown / religion editor
Oct. 12, 2002
Funding for a jail-and-prison ministry, as well as a scholarship sponsored by an organization of ministers' wives and widows, will be secured through two upcoming banquets.
On Thursday, the 2nd Annual Ministry Banquet will be at 6:30 p.m. in the multipurpose building at Northcrest Baptist Church. The banquet will benefit the Good News Jail &Prison Ministry of Lauderdale County.
And on Oct. 30, the 2nd Annual Scholarship Banquet of the East Mississippi Baptist State Ministers' Wives and Widows Alliance will be at 7:30 p.m. at East Central Community College in Decatur.
Jail &Prison Ministry
Based out of Richmond, Va., The Good News Jail &Prison Ministry is a nonprofit organization designed to meet the spiritual needs of inmates. The ministry was introduced to the Lauderdale County Detention Facility two years ago at the prompting of Sheriff Billie Sollie.
Sollie learned of the ministry while attending a Mississippi Sheriffs Association Conference. At the meeting, he talked with a sheriff who had used a full-time minister through the ministry.
Because of the number of inmates the Meridian jail housed, a more stable environment with a ministerial service was needed, he said.
In addition to providing a minister, The Good News Jail &Prison Ministry also pays the minister's salary. Matching funds are secured through partnerships with businesses, churches and individuals, as well as fund-raisers.
In April, Dennis E. Marks assumed duties as chaplain of the ministry, which serves the needs of inmates as well as prison officers and staff through religious services, Bible and literature distributions, counseling sessions and prayer.
In addition, the ministry provides training for volunteers who assist with programs and services. Volunteers from various churches and denominations conduct worship service, Bible study, musical programs and one-on-one counseling. All religious backgrounds are served through the ministry.
The fund-raising banquet will feature entertainment, special guests, inmate testimonies, a silent auction and dinner. City and county officials, as well as representatives from the offices of U.S. Rep., Chip Pickering, also are expected to attend.
Special music will be presented by Becky Collins, wife of Joe Collins, chaplain of The Good News Jail &Prison Ministry of Harrison County.
Tickets are a $25 donation per person. To reserve tickets or for more information, call Marks at 485-7708.
If you would like to make a donation instead of attending the banquet, contact the chaplain's office or send it to: The Good News Jail &Prison Ministry, 2230 E. Parham Road, Richmond, Va., 23228.
Checks or money orders should include "J61," the Lauderdale County Detention Facility's jurisdiction number.
Ministers' Wives,
Widows Scholarship
Desiring a more active role than just being the wife of a ministers, the East Mississippi Baptist State Ministers Wives and Widows Alliance organized in the 1970s to work with youth and provide scholarships.
East Mississippi consists of 11 districts and the alliance includes more than 50 active members.
In addition to providing scholarships, the group also contributes to charities such as LOVE's Kitchen, visits nursing residents during the holidays and offers assistance to victims of catastrophic events such as natural disasters and fires.
The banquet, which also serves as a membership drive, will take place in conjunction with the Third New Hope District State Convention, Oct. 28-Nov. 1, at Morning Star Baptist Church in Decatur.
Tickets are $15 and may be purchased from alliance members or at the door on the night of the event.
Guest speaker will be Dr. Gertie Thompson Lowe, third vice president of the National Baptist Women's Auxiliary and director of the Southern Region Conference covering 12 states and the Bahamas. She also serves as president of the Alabama Baptist Women's State Convention.
A native of Rome, Ga., Lowe is a graduate of Good Samaritan Hospital of Practical Nursing and Gadsden State School of Nursing. She received a bachelor's degree in business administration and Human Resources from the University of Alabama.
Currently residing in Gadsden, Ala., she serves as a state of Alabama licensed nursing home administrator.
For more information about the banquet or to purchase tickets, call Margaret Brown, alliance president, 482-3308, or Sylvia Hopkins, 693-4967.

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