On September 7, 2013, Shades Mountain Baptist Church will host the 1st Annual Urban Purpose 5K Run & Kids Mess Fest. Proceeds from the events will benefit the Urban Purpose Ministry. The race will begin and end at the pavilion on the church property and will include a course through the neighborhoods surrounding the church. The Kids Mess Fest is a departure from a more traditional “Fun Run” and will include water games, inflatables and slip ‘n slides. Kids that want to participate need to wear bathing suits.
Race Intended To Serve and Contribute
Joelle Akridge, Director of Recreation Ministry at Shades Mountain, says the idea for a race isn’t new. “A few years ago, I discussed the idea with our pastor. We finally felt like the timing and facilities were right to do a 5K this fall,” she shared, “Personally, I love organizing events and giving people and opportunity to serve and contribute.” Additionally, Akridge added that the church’s congregation includes a large number of runners which should be a good fit.
Urban Purpose Founded To Build Relationships
Urban Purpose was chosen as the beneficiary of the race because of its existing relationship with Shades Mountain Baptist. Founder Jim McFarland, an SMBC Member, says he started the ministry 3 – 4 years ago because he got to the point where his career in construction “didn’t satisfy anymore.” After talking and praying with his wife, he recalls “homelessness was everywhere in my face.” So, he set about “building relationships with people not like us” and Urban Purpose is the result. McFarland says, “We go to where these people are and stand beside them through life.”
Urban Purpose serves homeless people by serving lunch in downtown Birmingham every Sunday. “We start by meeting a food need. That draws people in we can get to know and build relationships with,” explains McFarland. From there, members of Urban Purpose partner with people in need to help them walk through whatever they are facing in their lives.
According to McFarland, there is no set program or curriculum that applies to all the people they serve. “There is really a customized plan for every person we work with,” says McFarland, “and it’s based on their lives and needs. Before we agree to help anyone, they agree to a psychological examination and some accountability.” McFarland describes the relationships between Urban Purpose volunteers and the people they serve as mentoring. McFarland further explains, “We go through a process of teaching them some simple decision making skills. Some people need a lot of help and attention; others just need a push in the right direction.”
Being About Who Jesus Is
Akridge says that they chose to support Urban Purpose because it’s a “newer and growing ministry…the race is an excellent tool to bring awareness to what Urban Purpose does in our community.” For McFarland, faith is central to his work and life but he emphasizes, “we’re not beating anybody over the head with the bible. We are about who Jesus is and we tell everyone we work with ‘if you want to be successful in this life, Jesus is the only way’.”
For more information about the race, visit Shades Mountain Baptist Church.
For more information about the Urban Purpose Ministry, click here.