This past year was filled with loss and hardship for so many Americans. People throughout North Carolina and the world have been deeply impacted by COVID-19. But in spite of the challenges, there was good news.
Facing a pandemic
In March 2020, Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) entered an unprecedented time navigating everyday life during the pandemic.
Immediately, BCH president/CEO Michael C. Blackwell stepped to the front to assure friends, residents and staff members that just as BCH has in other times overcome great challenges, BCH would persevere and come through this time stronger than ever.
Fortunately, many safety protocols to protect the BCH family at facilities around the state had long been in place. Because of the ministry’s readiness and the quick response in implementing even more precautions, BCH effectively has remained safe during the past 10 months.
As soon as public schools were closed, BCH’s staff members embraced “Stay Home...Stay Safe.” Cottage parents added to their daily roles serving as school teachers, activity directors, and guidance counselors. Cottage parents helped the children succeed online using remote learning.
Despite the fact that many North Carolina Baptist churches faced their own challenges, they did not forget BCH. Their strong giving and support brought BCH through a tough year.
BCH marks 135 year anniversary
The year 2020 marked the anniversary of BCH which was established November 11, 1885. The theme for the year is “Founded on faith...Built on love.”
Although celebration gatherings were canceled, the anniversary was highlighted through the writing of a new BCH history book by Dr. Blackwell that will be available first quarter of 2021 and the release of a three-minute documentary scripted and narrated by Blackwell recounting the Children’s Homes’ storied history.
The video, titled “Founded on faith…Build on love,” is a message of resolve, strength and faith, and can be viewed at bchnc.org/bch_strong.
BCH acquires new ministry
Trustees took historic action during their September 15 board meeting adding Christian Adoption Services (CAS) to BCH’s array of services. Through CAS, BCH gains the ability to aid families with domestic and international adoptions.
BCH and CAS were already working together through a partnership that was established in July 2019.
“Boys and girls need to be cared for by dedicated families who can give them the love and protection they deserve,” says Blackwell. “Bringing in the proven expertise of Christian Adoption Services expands our ability to offer children hope.”
BCH helps churches establish foster/adopt ministries
The number of churches partnering with BCH to impact the lives of children through family foster care and adoption is growing. BCH staff members provide training and licensing classes at participating churches to couples who desire to foster. BCH helps churches provide ongoing ministry, practical support, and community for the couples and the children they foster and/or adopt.
BCH filmed an information video for a foster/adopt breakout session as a part of the virtual 2020 Annual
Meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC). Along with the video, BCH launched bchfosteradopt.org website providing information to churches and couples concerning the foster care and adoption ministries.
NCBAM aids the isolated aging
Providentially, North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry’s (NCBAM) “One Hope” outreach addressed isolation among the aging shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
In March of 2020, as older adults were encouraged to isolate themselves, calls to Hope Line increased 923%. The high demand was met by dedicating two phone lines and weekend service. In June, Hope Line implemented an outbound Friendly Call Service. As part of the new outreach, NCBAM produced printed and audio versions of daily devotions for overcoming loneliness, began a bilingual outreach, and established a new website: onehopeNCBAM.org. NCBAM also heightened its Servant Care outreach to retired Baptist ministers and their spouses or surviving spouses.
NCBAM was quick to provide virtual solutions for seniors as well as senior-adult leaders. The ministry’s State Leadership Conference was live-streamed and followed by three regional virtual events. The ministry produced 20 videos to engage seniors with fall-prevention exercises, and offered numerous online workshops for Hope Line volunteers and the general public.
Greater Vision expands to Kinston
The Bob and Carolyn Tucker Greater Vision Outreach Ministry added a new location. The initial outreach was dedicated in 2019 at Mills Home in Thomasville, BCH’s original historic location. The new center is at Kennedy Home in Kinston, BCH’s second oldest location.
Many community families found themselves in financial crisis due to COVID-19. Greater Vision Thomasville and Greater Vision Kinston were able to provide food and necessities to offset dire circumstances. Together, the locations impacted lives by providing 152,550 meals, serving 77 families (220 household members) through the self-sufficiency program, and 83 partnering agencies distributed needed items to individuals and families in crisis through their own networks.
Ride sets record during pandemic
The annual “Ride to Clyde” on October 10 raised just more than $90,000 for BCH. It is a record amount for the event that celebrated its fifth anniversary.
An abbreviated ride was held due to the pandemic. The ride, organized by BSCNC, normally has bikers travel from the coast to Broyhill Home in the mountains.
Cheers broke out from the riders gathered outside Rich Fork Baptist Church in Thomasville when an original total of $75,000 was announced. Later, after riders had departed, more contributions were tallied bringing the total to $90,564. “Ride to Clyde” has now generated in excess of $275,000 for BCH through the event’s five years.
BCH expands digital media
Dr. Blackwell has expanded BCH’s digital communication plan by adding regular audio and video programs.
The former journalist, broadcaster, and pastor is channeling his expertise, insights and humor into his national award-winning podcast “It’s a Family Matter” and the popular “A Good Word” video programs which alternate and are made public every Monday.
“A Good Word” has brought encouragement to viewers for the past two years. The short videos are viewed by BCH friends and staff members from around the state and put a joyful spin on Blackwell’s CEO title by presenting himself as “Chief Encouragement
Officer.” Catch up on past episodes found at his YouTube playlist bchnc.org/goodword.
Dr. Blackwell’s podcasts, where he invites and interviews a variety of relationship and parenting experts, are available through all podcast apps as well as bchblog.org/podcast.
Article by Blake Ragsdale, BCH Director of Communications and Jim Edminson, Charity & Children Editor