UCC General Minister and President Geoffrey Black poses with the Back Bay Board and executive director.
Photo courtesy Back Bay Mission
Back Bay Mission, a community ministry of the United Church of Christ, serves the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the wider church community by faithful witness for social justice and compassionate service to the poor and marginalized.
More information about the Mission and its programs is available on the internet at www.thebackbaymission.org and via social media on Facebook (facebook.com/BackBayMission) and Twitter (@backbaymission).
by Christopher Marlin-Warfield
Back Bay Mission Press Release
BILOXI, MS (10/9/2012) -- Back Bay Mission, a community ministry of the United Church of Christ (UCC), celebrated ninety years of strengthening neighborhoods, seeking justice and transforming lives on Friday, October 5, with an open house and short program at its campus in Biloxi, Mississippi. Featured at the event were Executive Director the Rev. Shari Prestemon, President and General Minister of the UCC the Rev. Geoffrey Black, President of Back Bay Mission’s Board of Directors Mrs. Dale Bonds, and City of Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel.
According to Executive Director the Rev. Shari Prestemon, “If you think of any hard social justice issue that the Gulf Coast has had to confront over these last ninety years, you know that Back Bay Mission has been right there in the middle of it, making a difference, bringing social change and being a leader in this community. We’ve done that for 90 years and we fully intend to do it another 90 years.”
The Mission is currently engaged in construction on HomePort and seeking case workers for Operation Gratitude, two new projects aimed at helping homeless veterans. In his address at the celebration, the Rev. Geoffrey Black said, “This is a part of the church that many local church members identify as being the United Church of Christ, the wider church and a place where good things happen and great mission is done.”
Back Bay Mission wishes to express its gratitude to all of those congregations and individuals in the United Church of Christ who have supported its ministry over the past ninety years. “Back Bay Mission is truly blessed to have such an incredible extended family in the many congregations and individuals of the United Church of Christ that have long stood with us,” said Rev. Prestemon, “That support, whether financial or through active engagement of volunteers in our programs, enables us to continue our faithful legacy of strengthening neighborhoods, seeking justice, and transforming lives year after year.”
Founded in 1922 to provide a proper Sunday school experience for the children of poor families in the camps of the canneries and fishing industry along Biloxi’s Back Bay, the Mission quickly recognized the broader needs of the seafood workers and became a significant social institution in southern Mississippi. The Mission’s adaptability has enabled it to offer timely and relevant responses and develop networks and supports addressing a wide variety of social issues. Among the work that Back Bay Mission has done are the organization of the city’s first soup kitchen, the founding of the state’s first domestic violence shelter, the initiation of efforts to establish area health clinics and the establishment of vital programs and ministries focused on HIV/AIDS.
In recent years, and especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Back Bay Mission has focused on homelessness and housing issues. Currently, the Mission works on these issues through six major program areas including emergency assistance, a day center for the homeless, affordable housing initiatives, permanent supportive housing, housing rehabilitation and community empowerment and advocacy. The Mission also serves the wider United Church of Christ by providing reputable and transformative volunteer experiences for groups and individuals.
The Mission has a long relationship with the Connecticut Conference. The Conference tithes contributions to the Now, for the Future Campaign for Silver Lake to Back Bay for help in recovering from the storms of 2005.
If you or your congregation is interested in getting involved with Back Bay Mission, or if you have any question about the Mission’s projects and programs, please contact Church Relations Associate Christopher Marlin-Warfield by calling him at 228.243.5322 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more by visiting the Mission’s website (www.thebackbaymission.org), becoming a fan on Facebook (facebook.com/BackBayMission) or following the Mission on Twitter (@backbaymission).
Christopher Marlin-Warfield is Church Relations Associate for Back Bay Mission.