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The Purpose of this program is to provide sight word practice and extra reading opportunities for students in the 2nd grade who have not sufficiently mastered these words on their grade level. It also works with 3rd graders. 

By providing this kind of interaction and by sharing the gospel during Bible clubs or Good news Activities, our goal is to lead children and families to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. 

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One of the most effective and most impactful "open doors" one can go through is ministry to our local elementary schools. This is the strategy of READ GEORGIA.

Here's WHY:

 

In Georgia, 48 out of every 100 children in public school are not reading at grade level. That's almost half! 

In Fulton County, 45 out of every 100 children in the public school are not reading at grade level. 

In Fayette County, 33 out of every 100 children in public school are not reading at grade level. That's one out of three children.

In Coweta County, 44 out of every 100 children in public school are not reading at grade level. 

The Dept. of Corrections makes recommendation on the amount of future prison space based on the present reading scores of 3rd graders. 75% of these students reading below their grade level are more likely to end up in prison or on welfare. That is a societal cost and soul cost that we should not want to ever pay. READ GEORGIA is one solution.

 

READ GEORGIA is part of a childhood literacy initiative. Here's how it works. Watch the 3 minute video. 

Our Georgia Baptist

READ GEORGIA Contact

Belinda has been a Tutoring Children and Youth workshop leader for over 25 years and assisted in the development of Read Georgia.

 

Belinda was employed as a teacher in the Fulton County Schools for 30 years full-time and four years part time. During these years she worked as a classroom teacher, Teacher Support Specialist, English Language Arts coach, writing coach and Early Intervention Program teacher.

For more information and downloadable materials on READ GEORGIA, visit the website:

Local Church Contact
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Lynn Gilbert is second in from the left. She is with her fellow members of Flat Creek Baptist Church. This was taken the first day her team met at Cleveland Elementary School, Fayetteville, GA. 

Watch the 6 min. Video of Lynn Gilberts experience
of starting READ GA in her Church.  
WATCH FOR THE "HERDING CATS" REFERENCE IN VIDEO!
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First Responders
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Here's WHY:

First responders, as this designation says, are often the first to a crisis and the last to leave. They are exposed to the worst and the most tragic of human behaviors and events. 

You and your church can be a light to shine love and peace into first responders lives. Many of the brave men and women are Christ followers, but even the most dedicated need someone to just "be there" for them. 

Your association is partnering with 4Heroes Ministry to bring the love of Jesus to Police, Fire, EMS and Dispatch.

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Rev. Frank Mercer, Founder and President of 4Heroes Ministry. A ministry to First Responders who serve our communities in Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement and 911 Call Center.

Contact Frank: frank@4ourheroes.org

Here's How:

 

There are several ways you and/or your church may get involved is supporting our First Responders. One great way is to bring a dinner to a firehouse near your church. It's called "Adopt A Station." It is truly easy and fun. Find out more by downloading the information PDF by clicking the button below. 

Contact Mary Catherine Domaleski before starting. She is the 4Heroes "Adopt A Station" Coordinator. She can help with any questions:mrsmcdom@gmail.com or 678.464.9021

More about 4Heroes Ministry
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Wellness and Resilience

Clergy are still the number one place people first turn when they seek help for mental illness. This makes church leaders first responders when it come to mental health. In our post-pandemic world, there are greater needs now than ever before. 

 

Here are some current statistics from the American Association of Christian Counselors.

  • 14-20% of Children and adolescents suffer from a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder. 

  • 1 in 8 Americans over 12 meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder.

  • Every 13 seconds there is an attempted suicide. 

  • Nearly 1/2 of all live births are to unwed parents.

  • Only 33% of children will be raised to 18 by both of their biological parents. That is 1 out of 3.

  • 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 4 boys are sexually abused before age 18. Therapeists call this the "raping of the soul."

Piedmont Fayette reports that in the areas of physical health, Fayette County fares better than most other counties in the state of Georgia. But when it comes to mental health and substance misuse, the county is higher than most.

  • Mental health and behavioral disorders was the second leading cause of death for all county residents.

  • Suicide was the top cause of premature deaths for whites. It was most common among males aged 25 to 34 years of age. 

  • Fayette county is above both state and national averages for opiod and substance abuse. 

  • Since 2007 there has been a 50% increase in total deaths from all drug overdoses in Fayette County. 

The church of Jesus Christ is called to minister to all people. Churches should be safe and supportive places for people who are hurting and need prayer, encouragement, emotional and spiritual support. 

Jesus' call back in the day when he walked this earth is just as valid today:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and i will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because i am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden i give you is light." (Matthew 11:28-30, New Living Translation)

Ways a Church Can Support Mental Health
  1. Make your church services and property a place where new people will feel safe.

  2. Refer to mental and spiritual health in sermons. For example: Preach on Scripture passages that deal with mental health and on biblical characters that struggled with depression, anxiety, or other mental issues. You can also refer to historical church leaders who struggled, such as Charles Spurgeon. 

  3. Pray for those who struggle with mental health.

  4. Educate your congregation, your leaders and yourself.

  5. Make wellness and resiliency part of your and your church's ministry.

  6. Extend the church's support into the greater community. For example, provide free space for support and recovery groups to meet. 

  7. Provide a referral list of mental health resources available in your community. For example, let your church know that as 911 is for a physical crisis, 988 is for a mental health crisis. 

  8. Start a recovery group in your church. 

Church Resources for Wellness and Resilience

Many pastors and church leaders feel under equipped in responding to mental health issues. The good news is that there are resources available to help. While they won't make you a mental health expert, they will give you enough understanding to help people that come to you and to your church. Here are a few that we would recommend.

 

Mental Health Grace Alliance

 

Fresh Hope (Basic peer coaching for Mental Health. Recommended for all clergy and lay persons who interact with any issues of wellness)

 

Hope for Mental Health Starter Kit  (A resource from Saddleback Church) 

Mental Health Resources in Fulton, Fayette and Coweta Counties

Pathways to Promise

National Alliance on Mental Illness  (NAMI)

Mental Health First Aid (Recommended by Christianity Today. This program trains people to act as effective first responders in mental health crisis. Why not have at least one trained staff member in your church?

Group Resources for Wellness and Resilience

Dr. Scott Carlson, Founding pastor of The Refuge Church in North East Oklahoma. Scott was the featured speaker at the Fairburn Baptist Association's Annual Meeting in 2022. 

 In the mid 90’s Scott was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. He is very transparent about his lifelong battle with mental illness and considers himself a mental health advocate for people in and outside of gospel ministry.

 

In the fall of 2018, Scott was asked to resign from his position as Lead Pastor because of his battle with depression. Though that season was very difficult and dark on the Carlson family, it led to the beautiful experience of the birth of a new church, The Refuge Owasso, with the emphasis of being a hospital church.

They have recovery groups, groups for people who have been sexually abused, Missional Community Groups and much more. The Refuge is not just a church for those who struggle with mental health issues, it is a church for anyone who struggles with any condition. Everyone has their issues. All continue to struggle with sin as long as they live in these fallen bodies. But that doesn’t mean that a person must stay they way that they are or walk it alone. 

If you or someone you know would like to implement this type of ministry, or have questions, please contact Scott at 918-408-8154 or email scott.therefuge@gmail.com.

Sanctuary Course (A small group curriculum with video and discussion)