East Durham churches gear up for back to school

Jul. 24, 2013 @ 01:14 PM

Greater Emmanuel Temple of Grace, Word Empowerment Church and Nehemiah Christian Center are getting ready for their third annual Back to School Community Day, which will offer school supplies and fun activities for kids, and also services for the entire family.
It will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 10 at Greater Emmanuel Temple of Grace at 2722 E. Main St. in Durham. Demarcus Williams, minister of evangelism at Greater Emmanuel, said the first year drew about 500 people, and it was around the same number last year. They gave out 250 bags with school supplies last year, he said. Back to School Community Day is a collaborative effort among the three churches, he said, and they receive many contributions from local businesses and groups including N.C. Mutual Life Insurance, Mechanics & Farmers Bank, Durham Cooperative Extension, Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau and the East Durham Children’s Initiative. About two dozen community organizations will be at the Back to School Community Day, offering a variety of services.
“Each year we’ve done this, it’s been such a blessing to the East Durham community,” Williams said, thanking the pastor and congregation of each church for their support of a collaboration that achieves a common goal, “which is serving residents in our community.”
What’s unique about their Back to School event, he said, is that it’s more than giving away school supplies. There will be groups helping parents with getting jobs and offering blood pressure screenings. Also, last year the East Durham Children’s Initiative gave away books, the Durham Economic Resource Center gave away clothes and the Interfaith Food Shuttle gave away food.
“Whatever it is they need, it is available to them, as long as they are aware of the resources out there,” Williams said. Their goal is to be a blessing to all, he said.
With the event a few weeks away, Greater Emmanuel Temple of Grace, Word Empowerment Church and Nehemiah Christian Center are busy confirming partner attendance and making a last push to get schools supplies so they can stuff the bags. They’re also getting the word out to people who might want to come, including those who live at Durham Housing Authority developments.
Along with information about services and giveaways, Back to School Community Day will feature hair cuts, music and games and bounce houses for kids.
“The only criteria is that they be there,” Williams said. “There’s no charge. For parents, the children need to be present so we can give the supplies to children. Make sure to bring children and take time to enjoy the event and get information about different organizations that are there to help them,” he said.
Williams said that they don’t do a lot of proselytizing, but while they offer a lot of services, the greatest thing they have to offer as a church is gospel and prayer.
“Each church will do a prayer for the community,” he said. “They greatest thing we have to offer is Jesus Christ. We as a faith community support their families and educational goals.”
Supplies are still needed and may be dropped off at the church. Contact Williams at 919-818-6799 or adwilli3@gmail.com.
Elsewhere in East Durham on Aug. 10, another church is holding a back-to-school event, the Annual Back to School Rally at Orange Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Orange Grove is at 505 East End Ave. in Durham, and will host the rally from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 10. About 150 students come annually.
Tonya Ford of Orange Grove said the rally includes games, prizes, food, music and seminars. This year also features a career fair with 50 professionals in different careers to come and speak to the students about the discipline and educational requirements needed to be in that profession. There will also be educational seminars for students and parents. Seminar topics include “The Importance of Getting an Education in STEM,” “The Pitfalls of Social Media” and “Recognizing the Signs of Depression in your Child.” The church will also give away school supplies, and high school drumlines will perform. For information, visit www.ogmbc.org or call the church at 919-598-6913.