Monday, October 06, 2008

New organization for boys

Wonderful story over at The Meridian Star:

Navy Rear Admiral to kick off male ministry at West Mt. Moriah MBC today

By Ida Brown / senior staff writer

One of the Navy's 11 African-American Rear Admirals will help kickoff a local ministry aimed at young men.

Two-Star Rear Admiral Arthur J. Johnson Jr. will be the keynote speaker at today's launch of Challenge to Manhood, an empowerment initiative sponsored by West Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church. A fellowship hour will precede the program.

Challenge to Manhood is a teaching/nurturing program geared to males ages 12-20. According to the Rev. Odell Hopkins, pastor, the idea was prompted from a similar ministry for girls presented at the church.

"After our presentation of Debs for Christ, we realized that a lot of attention is poured out to our girls – presenting them and making sure they are being taught and nurtured – and we looked around and discovered that we had equally that many young men in the church, from the ages of 12 to 20," Hopkins said. "And while these young men are involved in the church's ministries and activities, no one really focuses on their development at the same level as for the girls."

Hopkins and several West. Mt. Moriah's youth leaders decided to create such a program.

"We felt this was the time to grab hold to them – while their minds are supple, while we can do some things to help develop them to be young men who, first of all, in whom God would be pleased, that the community could use, and that we could help direct their future to success," he said. "It's not only a Biblical and religious move to another level, but also one that is the right thing to do culturally and socially."

Participants will complete a series of lessons, and from the lessons will move to a mentoring process. Each will be paired with an adult male member of the church who will serve as their mentor. Additional guidance will be provided by the older men of church, referred to as Pillars of Wisdom.

"So they (participants) will be challenged to learn life lessons from their mentor, and then learn at least one word of wisdom from their Pillar of Wisdom that will carry them through their life," Hopkins said.

The year-long self-improvement program will culminate with a Rites of Passage celebration.

Hopkins said Johnson was asked to help introduce the program because of his involvement with youth.

"He was at the christening of the SS New York and I watched him as he interacted with the people, specifically the young people. He has a real passion for young people," he said. "He also informed me that our area (Meridian) is not aware of scholarship money available through the U.S. Armed Services to help young people go to college, and special incentives to attend Ivy League schools. He said he wanted to raise local awareness to that funding."

Born in Burlington, Vt., Johnson attended the United States Naval Academy, graduating in May 1979 with a bachelor of science degree in international security affairs. Following an initial TAD assignment to Fighter Squadron 171, he entered flight training in Pensacola, Fla., and earned his Naval Aviator wings in February 1981.

Upon completion of flight training, Johnson was assigned to Training Squadron 3 as a flight instructor flying the T-34 aircraft. In May 1983, he completed his initial P-3 training at Patrol Squadron 31, NAS Moffett Field, Calif., and was assigned to Patrol Squadron 6, NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii, flying P-3B MOD aircraft. While attached to VP-6, he qualified as instructor pilot and mission commander, and completed three deployments to NAS Cubi Point, Republic of the Philippines.

Johnson is currently assigned to the Navy Marine Safety Center at Norfolk, Va. He is the son of Arthur Sr. and Delores Johnson of Meridian.

Challenge to Men is not limited members of West Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.

"We've included young men from other churches and encourage other ones in the community to participate. I think our mentors and Pillars of Wisdom have a lot to offer," Hopkins said.


What: Kickoff of youth male

ministry Challenge to Men

When: Today. Fellowship hour, from 5 p.m.-6 p.m.; program to begin at 6 p.m.

Where: West Mt. Moriah

Missionary Baptist Church, 10530 Woods Road

Keynote speaker will be Two-Star Rear Admiral Arthur J. Johnson.

For more information: Contact The Rev. Odell Hopkins, pastor, at (601) 693-4967.