By Tamica Smith Jeuitt, Senior Communications Specialist, Mississippi Conference
Photo right: Several people are loading the Wells UMC van for a ride to state offices for vital records.
According to a witness report submitted to the Mississippi Conference Missions Grant Committee, the congregation at Wells United Methodist Church has a history of serving people in its surrounding neighborhood through "a ministry of presence." The church is located in Jackson, Mississippi. Its program Tuesday Morning Ministries attracts newly released prisoners. The men and women are seeking assistance with obtaining vital records and identification documents that are necessary for gaining employment. However, there is a cost for these items that many of the new Wells visitors cannot afford.
A statement from the report read "Without these basic documents re-entering the workforce is almost impossible...They rely on Wells Church to provide funding for their documents and transportation to and from issuing points located in various state agencies."
The cost for in-state documents is roughly $15 to $24 a copy. For those with records outside of Mississippi, the fee is around $50.
At one time, the demand for this service nearly depleted the funds allocated to Tuesday Morning Ministries, forcing the church to look for additional cash. Prayers were answered by fellow Mississippi United Methodist congregations who pay their mission shares. Thanks to the Mississippi Conference Connectional Ministries Mission Grants, Wells received a $2,500 matching grant.
A closing comment in the report stated "It is an honor to partner with the Connectional Ministries of the United Methodist Church in serving God by assisting our local underserved population of newly released prisoners."
Tuesday Morning Ministries receives about 10 requests per week from newly released prisoners who desire vital records.
About Mission Grants
The Mississippi Conference Connectional Ministries Mission Grants are matching grants available to United Methodist churches and United Methodist sponsored or related agencies in Mississippi. Grants range from $500 to $2,500 per project, with one award of up to $10,000. They are awarded to form spiritual leaders, new places for new people, connections through existing congregations and engagement in ministry with the poor; therefore, living out the four Core Values of The POWER of We.
The POWER of We funded in part by your apportioned mission shares.