BC and Virginia Baptists Battle Poverty
Bluefield College has partnered with three other Baptist organizations to help address poverty in southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia in a project called Together for Hope.

BC and Virginia Baptists Battle Poverty

By Student Marketing Associate Mikaela Hurst | October 5, 2017 | RSS

Bluefield College has partnered with three other Baptist organizations to help address poverty in southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia in a project called Together for Hope.

Joining Bluefield College in the effort are the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV), Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) of Virginia, and the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) of Virginia, who all recently signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with Bluefield College committing to collaborate with local leaders to “birth and nurture a ministry presence” in southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia.

“Bluefield College is proud of its association with the Bluefield communities and this region,” said BC president Dr. David Olive. “This initiative is very much in keeping with our mission of serving this region, and we are appreciative of the various Baptist entities that are coming alongside community leaders in our area to help us enhance opportunity and quality of life, as well as provide hope to our communities.”

The partners will center the Together for Hope ministry around Tazewell County in Virginia and Mercer County in West Virginia – two counties that have been confirmed through statistical data to presently have persistent poverty. In Tazewell County, for example, 21 percent of children are experiencing food insecurity, and many families do not qualify for federal child nutrition programs, thus relying on charity to put food on their tables.

“Though TFH partners believe hungry children are reason enough for a compassionate response in this area, they also aim to address systemic issues related to waning population and lack of meaningful work,” said Terry Maples, coordinator of CBF of Virginia. “Together for Hope collaborates with local leaders to provide what is needed and to offer hope.”

Formed in 2001, Together for Hope (TFH) is Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s 20-year commitment to the 20 poorest counties in the United States. TFH was birthed with the strong conviction that the keys to alleviating poverty in these rural areas can be found within the people who live there. This approach is known as Asset Based Community Development.

TFH currently provides a faith-based presence in 18 locations in rural landscapes around the U.S. – from Arizona to Appalachia and from the Dakotas to the Delta. TFH agencies and individuals work alongside community members in four focus areas: education, health and nutrition, housing and environment, and social enterprise. Recently, TFH’s vision has expanded to include the 301 counties in the United States with persistent rural poverty.

To date, leaders from the Tazewell-Mercer coalition have held three gatherings in Bluefield, Virginia, and Bluefield, West Virginia. Two gatherings were listening sessions with key leaders in the region, while the third meeting offered an Asset Mapping Experience.

“Participants in these meetings discovered the region is blessed with gifted and passionate people who are excited about working together to make a difference,” said Maples.

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Student Marketing Associate Mikaela Hurst