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Troy’s Southside ‘connects’ with homelesscomment (0)

January 5, 2012

By Anna Keller

The last Thursday of the month is Connection night at Southside Baptist Church, Troy. The fellowship hall fills with community members as they gather for dinner, conversation and laughter.

“The idea for Connection started [in late 2010] when I started to feel burdened to serve the homeless, lonely and needy,” Anna Morgan said. “In Troy, there’s no shelter or Jimmie Hale Mission or anything like that, and I felt like our church needed to start some sort of program to reach this population.”

And the Salem-Troy Baptist Association church is in a prime location for such an outreach, positioned in a neighborhood full of community members in need.

When Connection kicked off in March 2011, church members began going door to door and handing out fliers to publicize the event. Pastor Andrew Knick and Youth Minister Jacob Morgan (Anna’s husband) have reached out to families through the local Boys & Girls Club, where they serve on the board of directors. They’ve also invited international students at Troy University, who often find it difficult to get plugged into the community.

“It’s become a wonderful event and is much more than just eating dinner,” Anna Morgan said.  

Several families have attended each and every dinner, and the program’s volunteers have enjoyed building relationships with those people, who have quickly become friends. “It’s been great to learn ... their stories, and learn about their families,” she noted. “It gives everyone a sense of belonging.”

Now nearing its one-year anniversary, Connection is going strong, and its creators have high hopes for its future.

“My goal would be to take it to the next level, to let it be something where we begin to bring them into the church and get them plugged in,” Knick said. “We want it to be more than just a meal, but we realize we have to take it a step at a time.”

Anna Morgan is planning for a financial mentorship program as a way to offer lasting benefits to those in need. As for church members, many have had the opportunity to become involved in Connection, and the youth have been particularly engaged in the outreach.

“It’s been really neat because we have a good group of kids who are good at serving, and so it’s been something they’ve wanted for a long time,” Jacob Morgan said. “They have the chance to put into action what they believe. I’ve seen great things happen because they’ve seen how very blessed they are.”

Knick added, “I think it’s something our town has needed for a long time, and so we’re enjoying it and loving the opportunity to use our facility, to take the talents and gifts from our church and to take what we preach and put it into practice.”

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