Thursday, 12 July 2018 11:33

Forest Park Ministry Center Providing Food, Clothing and Support for People in Crisis

Written by  Angela Hardgrave
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Forest Park Ministry Center is an outreach of Montgomery Baptist Association’s Compassion Ministries, which has been in existence for around fifty years. “Compassion Ministries began in 1968 when Miss Gladys Farmer, a missionary, was called to Montgomery for the purpose of leading community ministry. The Montgomery Baptist Association recognized the need for its member churches to become not only aware of the needs surrounding them, but to engage people outside the walls of the church who need to know the hope of Jesus Christ and the life change a relationship with Him will bring,” said director Donna McCullough. “Today, Rev. Neal Hughes is the Director of Missions and Mrs. Lisa Rose is the Director of Compassion Ministries, which encompasses Forest Park Ministry, Samaritan Inn Ministries, Conversational English, Mixtec Task Force, and a partnership with Foster Care.”

 

Forest Park Ministry began in 1997 when a satellite center was moved from Central Baptist Church on South Perry to the current location on East 4th Street. McCullough stepped into the director’s role in 2008. She explains, “Eventually, the smaller satellite centers closed or transitioned for various reasons, and by 2011, the ministry was the primary site for community ministry under the umbrella of the Montgomery Baptist Association, addressing the needs of people in crisis living in any zip code within Montgomery County.” McCullough continued, “Food insecurity, which is a tremendous issue in our community among families and individuals in poverty, as well as other physical needs are met in ways that do not demean the guests of the center, but show respect and dignity.”

 

The center features a food pantry that gives clients choices and allows them to shop for themselves and their families. They also partner with Goodwill Industries, who provides gift certificates for guests to shop for their own clothing, and Sam’s Angel Market, a toy sale for qualified parents to purchase new toys for their children. They offer support groups, such as GAP for grandparents raising grandchildren, home visits and mentoring for new moms, and individual counseling. “Guests of Forest Park are being loved and equipped with resources and support to become who God intended each of His children to be. I firmly believe God’s Word in 2 Corinthians which says God comforts us with His Holy Spirit, so that we are equipped to comfort others with that same comfort,” said McCullough.

 

Compassion Ministries (of which Forest Park is a part) has partnered with Lowndes County churches to address needs in that area for the past several years. McCullough explains, “We are excited about efforts such as Operation Inasmuch that address identified needs in their area, as well as a new ministry center being organized there. In addition, we refer those who contact us from other counties to ministry and agency resources that are more convenient to them. As a partner with Hands On River Region, we value their assistance in making appropriate referrals as needed.”

 

Other churches across the River Region play important roles in helping Forest Park succeed in meeting needs and sharing the gospel. “Most of the 62 churches within the Montgomery Baptist Association offer support in various ways, including prayer support and financial support. Many of the churches send volunteer missionaries, and we currently have 42 volunteer missionaries on staff,” said McCullough.

 

 

Even with this support, there are still ongoing needs for the ministry. “There is often a need for someone to help staff a ministry area for a particular day or shift. In addition, clothing donations directly to the ministry center is an ongoing need—any season, any size—so that we can continue our partnership with Goodwill. Our volunteer missionaries are trained to presort for that purpose, and are also sensitive to those items that need to be retained for immediate and emergency needs among our guests.

 

Finally, food and financial donations are always needed. Specifically, protein items such as canned meat or peanut butter are often in low supply and direly needed. Financial donations will assist us to acquire food through Montgomery Area Food Bank, a partnership we value deeply. The $.18/pound administrative fee is helpful as we acquire food weekly from this valuable source, but even such a low fee adds up when you acquire thousands of pounds per month!”

 

Any questions concerning donating or volunteering, or about their events such as Rally for the Galley, an annual motorcycle ride/scavenger hunt, should be directed to Donna McCullough at (334) 269-5726 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

Angela Hardgrave is a graduate of the University of Mobile with a degree in journalism and currently works in the Marketing Department of Faulkner University as a graphic designer. Angela is also a freelance writer for several publications in the River Region. She resides in Wetumpka, Alabama, with her three awesome daughters and herdog, Emmy.

 

 

Forest Park Ministry Center Cared for My Family

 

My name is Savannah (Rivers) Barber. I grew up about four blocks away from the Forest Park Ministry Center in the 1990s and 2000s. My dad was a hard-working man who did his best to support our family until he was laid off. He couldn’t find more work because of poor health. I don’t remember my mother ever working during my lifetime; she was on disability for diabetes. From my earliest memories, I remember visiting various churches and other locations to receive aid to make ends meet from month to month. Much of the food we ate, and nearly all of the clothes my brother and I wore, came from Forest Park.

 

This center stands out in my memory for many reasons. I remember my mom getting out our collapsible cart so we could walk from our house to the center and bring home food. We would check in, and my little brother and I would sit in the front room reading books or playing with some of the toys on the shelf, while my mother went through the intake process. I remember that I never felt ashamed to receive the donations they gave us. What I love most about Forest Park is that they have a heart for keeping a person’s dignity intact, no matter how desperately they need help. They see every person who comes in the door as loved by God and created in His image.

 

I remember then-director Lou Ann Raughton was a friend to my mother in a way few people were. In addition to my mother’s physical illness and disability, she also suffered from mental illness, substance abuse, and poor judgment that often affected our whole family. My mother attended church and was a believer, but she struggled constantly with these obstacles. Lou Ann and the other volunteers at Forest Park earnestly loved and encouraged (and I’m sure prayed for) her and my family constantly for many years.

 

In the years since, my mom and dad have both passed away and I found myself, by the grace of God, part of a loving and adopted family, married, a mother of two children, and a full-time employed missionary in the Montgomery area with both Child Evangelism Fellowship and the Montgomery Baptist Association. I am so thankful for the love and encouragement my (biological) family received from volunteers like the ones who serve at Forest Park Ministry Center. They truly were and are the hands and feet of Jesus to our community.

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