JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Faith, according to the book of Hebrews, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Right now, the congregation of Southside Baptist Church in South Jackson is hoping for a new roof.
What they’re not seeing is the massive amount of money it will take to put the roof on the building, because buckets and swimming pools will not hold the waters back forever.
“Just look around the room real quickly, Reggie’s going to scan around the room," said co-pastor Jeff Parker, standing by a large blue kiddie swimming pool. "This is my Sunday school class, this is where the men actually meet, and this is what we’re facing right now in the way of leaks. So we need your help.”
That swimming pool isn’t there for sunbathing, it’s there to catch the water that a simple bucket or trashcan can’t hold -- like the ones all over the church as the roof continues to decay.
There are garbage cans and buckets all around the church, and huge wet spots on the rug. Major financial issues like this have killed churches with less heart. But Southside itself is still a driving force in its community.
“It has survived in a community where a lot of churches have either relocated or basically liquidated and closed down their ministry, so the fact of Southside even being here is a miracle within itself,” Parker said.
Southside, with its food pantry, daily sack lunches for the underprivileged, clothes closet, regular sports camps, and holiday meals for the community, has given to South Jackson for as long as they have been there.
But after years of patching and tarring, Southside Baptist Church is facing a price tag of $50,000 -$80,000 just to re-roof the main building. That doesn’t include the gymnasium that has served so many purposes through the years, including basketball camps, a place for local kids to play, and a major part of the holiday meals and clothes closets.
But there’s definitely no basketball now because the out of control leaks have warped the hardwood floor. The room that now has an indoor pool is home to College and Career activities, men’s Sunday school, and Celebrate Recovery.
“The Bible says perfect love casts out fear," Parker said. "The death of a church like Southside, bottom line, is people would feel it everywhere.”
That’s because Southside leaders prioritize ministry to the homeless and to the inner city, and another priority is looking past skin color and social status to see children of God. They send missionaries overseas and to the homeless man on the corner.
“We’re a church that doesn’t have much, but with what we have we’re frugal and we try to do the best with what we have," said co-pastor Reggie Glenn. "We can’t stop doing ministry because we have this need. Because we believe that God will provide in the midst of us doing what he calls us to do.”
Having a lower-income congregation does make it harder to meet the big needs, though. There’s not a congregation member or donor who can regularly step forward to bridge financial gaps like a lot of larger churches have.
That’s why Parker asks that other churches come alongside Southside to reach out to the mission field that is South Jackson.
“So I think what you see here is a church that made the decision to stay based on the fact that first of all we wanted to be a picture to the united states and the community that this can work,” he said.
“We’re a church that doesn’t have much but with what we have we’re frugal and we try to do the best with what we have. We can’t stop doing ministry because we have this need," said Glenn. "Because we believe that God will provide in the midst of us doing what he calls us to do. If God has called us to something, I think that he will provide what we need along the way.”
They’re calling it a “God-sized problem,” but they’re making the city of Jackson and all its suburbs a promise.
“We will continue to stay, we’ll provide camps, we’ll keep kids off the streets in the summer, we’ll work with the homeless through sack lunches and all our ministries. We’ll do this, but we need you to hold the ropes while we’re doing it. We’ll go down the side of the mountain, we’re not afraid.”