The education arm of the Mississippi National Baptist State Convention (MNBSC) presented Jackson State University with a $15,000 check during its 5th Annual Session earlier this month to assist students with financial aid.Dr. Kenneth Hollins, education board chair of the MNBSC, presented the gift during the annual event at the Greater Antioch Baptist Church in Pascagoula. He said, “We are a young convention, but our state president believes we should help students who fall in a gap situation when money runs out during their post-secondary educational studies.”
The donation, which recognizes the partnership between the university and the faith-based community, earns the state convention a JSU “Circle of 1,000” honor in the category of “Seeds of Promise” ($10,000 or more). Also, donors can earn distinction in the categories of “Seeds of Faith” ($1,000) and “Seeds of Hope” ($5,000).
Hollins, pastor of New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Biloxi, said the MNBSC also has provided thousands of dollars in support to other HBCUs throughout Mississippi. “We have a historical account of how HBCUs have helped our communities. There was a time when (African-Americans) could attend only an HBCU. We are aware that when we sow seeds in good soil it brings forth a good harvest.”
Sandra Hodge, vice president of Institutional Advancement at JSU, extolled the generosity of churches in helping HBCUs.
“This is an example of faith-based organizations remembering and reminding others of our roots,” said Hodge, reflecting that JSU was founded in 1877 as Natchez Seminary.
“We must remember our students and continue asking ourselves how are we challenging minds and changing lives. … Size doesn’t always matter, but rather let’s be about quality, nurturing and be good at what we do. … In addition to an alliance with churches, JSU has a mission and a responsibility to be partners with the city, public schools and local communities to address urban issues – blight, homelessness, health disparities.”
Meanwhile, Hollins said he and two other brothers received their doctorate degrees from JSU, so he’s especially endeared to the urban institution. As well, he said he is duty-bound to follow the “wonderful leadership of Dr. Kenneth Davis, the president of Mississippi National Baptist State Convention, for leading the charge to assist our young people in furthering their education.”
Dr. Vernon Graves, a member of the education committee and pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Laurel, said a mission of the organization is to help “at-risk students.”
He said, “Our concern as pastors and ministers is not just about the soul of man but the whole of man. Part of that means educating man from a spiritual perspective as well as a secular perspective.”
Mirroring the convention’s theme of “Fulfilling the Great Commission” by spreading the gospel worldwide, Graves said, “The idea of making disciples also has to do with educating individuals who can go out and educate others.”
Hollins, too, agrees that every teacher is a disciple.
“It’s so important that we teach our children the skills they need to be successful in this world – whether it’s English, math, engineering or education. We can really make a difference,” he said.
As the state convention continues fulfilling its mission, Graves said he especially wants people to know that “before we can ask anybody to help us as a people we must be willing to help ourselves first.” So, he’s urging HBCUs to “keep doing an excellent job in educating our young men and women because we have stellar individuals graduating from all of our Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”