By Kara Witherow, Editor
Asbury United Methodist Church in Columbus recently held a graduation for the first 11 graduates of Columbus’ inaugural Jobs for Life program.
Part of the Chattahoochee Valley Poverty Reduction Coalition (CVPRC), Jobs for Life is an 11-week evangelical job-readiness program to help those who are unemployed and underemployed find work.
Rev. Mike Powell, pastor of Asbury UMC and Stephen’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Lumpkin, is a member of the CVPRC and served as a Jobs for Life site leader and facilitator.
A bi-vocational pastor, he says opportunities to serve the community are as much a part of his ministry as preaching on Sunday mornings.
“It was a sermon you could see,” Rev. Powell said of the Jobs for Life program. “I'd rather see or participate in a sermon than hear or preach one any day.”
Deneka Graham is one of the program’s 11 graduates. She participated in the class to learn skills to better provide for herself and her family, she said.
“Jobs for Life has showed me how to handle day-to-day life situations and how to overcome them,” she said. “I have learned new ways to handle conflict and how to speak clearly during interviews. I also learned how to handle my roadblocks so they don’t stop me!”
The Jobs for Life course held at Asbury UMC was a pilot program in Columbus, but Rev. Powell said the CVPRC is hopeful it can be expanded throughout the city. He also hopes other United Methodist pastors and churches will see the program’s impact and join.
“As a pastor, I have to be concerned with my fellow man,” he said. “I’m trying to minister to the area, that’s part of what the Discipline says we’re to do. This is what I do; we’re talking about changing lives. I see ministry in it.”