Butler Ministers cooperate to serve community

Published 12:39 pm Sunday, May 7, 2023

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The Butler County Ministerial Association is an organization in which local faith leaders work together across denominational lines to serve their community. 

The group, which meets at Regional Medical Center on the first Wednesday of each month raises funds, cooperates with community organizations, plans programs, and coordinates efforts which allow them to partner together to love their community.

At the group’s May 3 meeting, Allen Stephenson, pastor at First Baptist Church in Georgiana, described how the group helps those in the area needing a hand up.

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“If the police call us and tell us that someone is stranded here and can’t get home or maybe they were put out of their home through no fault of their own, we go through the police department and they check them out,” Stephenson said. “Then if it is a worthy [need], we take them to a hotel and pay for them to have a night there. We’ve done that several times.”

On one occasion, Stephenson said a family was involved in a crash on the interstate. That family lacked the funds to pay for a hotel stay and couldn’t get help from family or friends until the following day. 

The association helped that family with a room for the night and on occasion have assisted others in need with power or water bill funding.

“The reason [we do this] is because there’s just not as much money floating around as there used to be to help with things like that,” Stephenson said. “And so, we do that through DHR (the Department of Human Resources).”

The association coordinates the National Day of Prayer observance each year. By doing so, the group strives to pray for the community, state, and nation along with other specific groups – the media, law enforcement, military, churches, businesses, the media – to support these groups and encourage communities to join them in prayer.

Butler County Emergency Management Agency Director Rosie Till addressed attendees at the May 3 meeting and discussed the county’s efforts toward creating temporary shelters for use during natural disasters or inclement weather.

Till described the Safer Place Facilities Act passed by the Alabama legislature in 2021 to address the need for temporary shelter.

“There’s a lot of ins and outs of this act,” Till said. “But what I want you all to take away from this is you are now protected under this act in the event you open your institution [churches] for shelters. This puts you in one line as an emergency management partner, so if anyone tries to sue you, you are protected.”

Till told the group that the Red Cross will come out to assess a facility for shelter capacity and reminded the group shelters would be temporary.

“That’s one thing I want to make clear,” Till said. “You’re not feeding anybody. They’re not staying the night. A Safer Place enables them to get in a building that doesn’t have wheels or is not deteriorating. And, that will be made clear in the event we initiate this effort.”

Till said efforts are just beginning to partner with organizations, like churches, to set up temporary shelters in Butler County.

“It’s going to take time,” Till said. “It’s not something that’s going to happen right away.”

The association brings faith leaders together for this kind of information, allowing them to better serve their communities.

Persons interested in joining the association may visit one of the group’s regular meetings. The next one is scheduled for noon on June 7 at the Regional Medical Center.