Senior Pastor Bartholomew Orr of Brown Missionary Baptist Church in Southaven, Mississippi, felt as if a lot of great things were happening in his community to help those in need. The only problem was that those great things were happening in silos.
“Instead of working together to build momentum and have synergy, everybody was doing their own thing,” he explains.
Orr and his church, which is located 15 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee, came up with a unique idea that Orr pitched to CBS affiliate WREG in Memphis. The station would do a weekly spotlight on a local charity in the Memphis metro area that was doing good works for families and schools, or advocating on behalf of the needy. The church, in turn, would donate $1,000 to that organization.
In November 2020, Community Changers started on WREG, and the church donated its first $1,000 check anonymously. The church kept its identity a secret early on, Orr says, to keep the focus on the charity.
Over the years, some Community Changers recipients have included Indomitable Families Affected by Incarceration, a nonprofit that supports families of those who are in prison, and Memphis Youth Arts Initiative, which provides children and teens with access to performing arts instruction.
Orr says positive changes in the area are on the increase. “We’ve seen more organizations getting support from the community. People are starting to partner. The concept of building synergy is taking place because of Community Changers.”
Recently, Orr met with Scott Harris, the vice president of church and global engagement for Mission Increase, an Oregon-based organization that offers free training to nonprofits in such skills as fundraising and planning. He and Harris are establishing a Mission Increase branch in Memphis, he says.
“The goal ultimately is for churches and organizations to work together for the good of the community. When we come together, especially with the faith component to it, we can see lives change,” Orr says. “And we can make a difference.”