By Dr. John Lovelace Cantelow III
I have the privilege each week to stand before a physical and virtual audience to deliver timeless words of hope, faith, and perseverance that are designed to inspire listeners to press on and live their best lives in spite of the challenges that lay ahead.
It is my hope that parishioners leave our grand sanctuary feeling refreshed and invigorated with a sense of purpose and urgency in life. Yet, there is more beyond the celebration and motivation of Sunday morning services that compels me to extend my commission from the pulpit and into the homes and classrooms of my neighbors.
EmpowerED Birmingham is a vehicle for such action. The grassroots coalition of community leaders, parents, and educators for months have met to discuss ways that we can help our students excel.
Together, we are working on a plan to fill the education gap that exists within our school system and find tools to assist our students, teachers and parents to reach the success that they all desire and deserve.
The community-led nature of this coalition compelled me to serve with EmpowerED Birmingham. Real change emanates from the grassroots. Jesus himself was a community organizer, and the results of his work continues to be felt after more than 2,000 years.
Top quality education should be available to all. The successes that we see and read about should be the norm and should be replicated throughout our city. This is achievable through real and practical collaboration at every level to assist our hard-working educators.
Birmingham has a long history of educational excellence as the key to success for generations of residents. Education was viewed as the ticket out of poverty and a bridge to new status of social and professional success.
No one says “I want to fail in life.” Everyone wants to excel in something. United, we will restore that foundation and excitement to excel through education in all its forms of academics and professional trades.
I want us to be a top-notch school program where it doesn’t matter where you live, what school you are zoned for, or how much money your family makes or doesn’t make. We want top quality education available to all. Such is the goal of EmpowerED Birmingham.
As a pastor, I am charged with uplifting the spiritual health of my community. That responsibility, however, is dynamic in that it also includes the physical and emotional needs of our people.
These three elements work in tandem to create a healthy person. The education of our children fits squarely within each of these categories.
There is plenty of work for all of us. An education blueprint based on our community conversations will be released in a few weeks. The framework will focus on three areas: community power, access to information, and stronger community partnerships. This document will guide the coalition’s work and advocacy.
I have learned that it is what we do beyond the celebration of Sunday morning that is longstanding. We must take the lessons learned from Sunday and put faith and motivation into real, sustainable action.
Please join with us. For more visit empoweredbirmingham
Dr. John Lovelace Cantelow III is Pastor of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in SW Birmingham