News Channel 12 is starting new series called "Faith in Focus" about the churches of our communities and the people who are a part of them.
In our inaugural story Jackson's "Fresh Start Christian Church" welcomes us to their Sunday service and Pastor James L. Henley Jr. tells WJTV about their sweeping outreach in surrounding neighborhoods.
Pastor Henley is a former lawyer and CPA but about ten years ago he started "Fresh Start" after a calling from God. The church now operates out of a renovated YMCA on Manhattan Road.
"When I really started to learn about Christ and how he operated on earth I saw that he operated within the community," Pastor Henley said.
He uses the church as an example. When he bought the property about a decade ago the surrounding area was depressed.
The first members of "Fresh Start", like Dorothy Thompson, say they remember feeling new energy at the start-up.
"I do not know if there was five or ten people there but my youngest son and I went there and on our way home my son said 'Momma, I enjoyed that service. I want to come back'," Thompson said.
"Dorothy Thompson, one of our members, she's a real estate agent. So what we've done, every year is have a housing seminar," Pastor Henley said.
"Normally when you're getting ready to buy a house you have to pay money down on the house - anywhere from $500 dollars to $1,000. We give every member of our congregation who purchases a house $500. Not only do we help them but we educate them," Thompson said.
And the education doesn't stop there. The church hosts regular events for children and teenagers and even hosts annual health fairs for people in the area, Pastor Henley said.
"We really try to focus on the needs of the people who come to this church. If we find out someone doesn't have a bed, we're going to find them a bed. If we figure out they don't have transportation we're going to figure out transportation. We're going to figure out how to help them so it's not just something that they hear, it's something that they see making Christ visible to them. And I think that increases their faith and I think that make them want to reach out to others when they're doing better," Pastor Henley said.
Fresh Start Christian Church is relatively new - only about nine years old. It has about 400 members but it's only a packed house on days like Easter, Henley said.
And if you think other people could benefit from learning about YOUR church and its programs - give News Channel 12's Jacob Kittilstad a call at 601-664-8839 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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