Local pastors partner with the PPD to help residents

Published 4:34 pm Monday, February 18, 2019

PELHAM – Since Pelham clergy began meeting quarterly in 2013 to brainstorm ways to interact more with the community, a lot has happened. In addition to hosting joint community events and participating in Compact 2020, the group has now partnered with the Pelham Police Department to assist with minor code enforcement issues.

Councilman Maurice Mercer, liaison to the pastoral group, said the group started after realizing that none of the churches in the city had relationships with one another.

“I saw an opportunity for our faith-based community to step up and reach out more,” he said.

Early on, the group’s relationship with the PPD began when the department would call on Dr. Mike Shaw, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Pelham, to serve as a chaplain. Today, the group helps resolve code enforcement issues that are brought to their attention by the PPD.

“As a city, we don’t want homes to become dilapidated,” Mercer said. “No police officer wants to knock on your door to tell you that your paneling is falling off or your grass needs to be cut. There’s just no way to say that in a nice way. And a lot of the time it’s a senior citizen or a family with limited income.”

When the city’s code enforcement officer notices that a person might need some help, the message gets passed along to the pastoral group.

“We send out an email to let them know that there’s a need and if a church has the resources to help, then they will,” Mercer said. “I was hesitant to speak about it because it’s not something we ever wanted to bring attention to.”

So far, various churches have completed tasks such as cutting overgrown grass and replacing loose boards. One church even reached out and offered to help with mulching at Pelham High School. Mercer said the goal is to help where there’s an immediate need. There have not been any reoccurring services so far.

Jerry McClain, senior pastor of Kingdom Christian Center, said his church has assisted with cleaning yards, given gift cards and assisted displaced families with moving truck rentals. Daven Watkins, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Pelham, said the discipleship groups at FBC help in the community with simple yard maintenance and landscaping.

In addition to partnering with the PPD to assist with code enforcement, the group is also involved with Pelham’s Compact 2020 team. In February 2018, Compact 2020 and Bradford Health Services provided a free training event for leaders in the faith community. The event was attended by church leaders from throughout Shelby County and surrounding areas and was hosted at the First Baptist Church of Pelham hosted the event.

McClain, a member of Pelham’s Compact 2020 team, said the team meets every other month to discuss ways to prevent and combat drug use among adolescents. McClain said he believes the initiative is the best approach available right now.

McClain said the group’s next issue to address deals with the foster care system and providing assistance to teens when they age-out of the system.

“When children age out of the system, they have nowhere to go,” he said. “I had no idea we were dealing with such a large group of displaced individuals.”

At the next quarterly meeting with the pastors, McClain said the group will talk about ways to address the issue.