Emmanuel, Ruhama alive, thrivingcomment (0)
March 20, 2003
By Erin Webster
Although many things about the building at Birmingham’s Ruhama Baptist Church changed when its congregation dissolved in December of 2001, some things have and will continue to remain the same.
Armed with Ruhama’s goal of reaching its community for Christ, Greater Emmanuel Temple Holiness Church now occupies the building on a lease with purchase option. This thriving 600-member independent church gains new members weekly through daily meetings and Bible studies at the church, Sunday School and three different Sunday services.
Greater Emmanuel pastor Bishop José Perry said the possibility for expansion is what led the church to move to the Ruhama location. “We are taking in whole families and having people baptized every Sunday,” he said.
Other outreach opportunities include a day care for preschoolers and a summer enrichment program that seeks to build character and help with any educational problems children may have before they return to school.
“We want to expand the day care into a school for K-12 grades,” Perry said, “and build a gymnasium, which was a goal of Ruhama’s, too.”
Ruhama continues to live on at Greater Emmanuel through the Ruhama Scholarship Fund. Homer Lloyd, now a member of First Baptist Church, Irondale, said Ruhama had a scholarship established for members of the church who wished to attend college.
The church had only awarded one scholarship since the program’s inception, so Ruhama donated the remaining money in the fund to Greater Emmanuel to continue the program.
Perry said, “Right now the fund has $10,000, and we’re trying to raise more before we award one. Those eligible will be church members who are going into fields that will be good for the community and church.”
These include doctors and lawyers as well as those who are going into the ministry.
Even though the building is now home to new members and programs, it still continues seeing familiar faces. Lloyd said he and his wife have an ongoing friendship with Perry and his wife, as do other members who go by and visit Greater Emmanuel from time to time.
“We still want them to feel like they have a part of the church,” Perry said, noting the former Ruhama member who used to design the bulletin board each week for Ruhama “still fixes the board for us.”
Many former members of Ruhama joined First Baptist Church, Irondale, as well as other churches closer to their homes. Since the majority moved to Irondale, Ruhama’s historical items and archives are stored there.