Faith community backs Governor's plan - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Faith community backs Governor's plan

February 25, 2007

Albany - - Many members of the faith community in South Georgia say they buy Governor Perdue's plan to give state funding to more faith-based organizations. The controversial plan has been shot down three times by the Legislature, but along with his supporters Perdue will push to make it a reality during this session.

When people praise at their sanctuary of choice, the fellowship often continues outside of the church's doors.

"We've done after school tutorial programs, we've done adult literacy, GED program, SAT prep, we even did a science project with NASA and all of that was with grant money," says Daniel Simmons, Pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist.

He says his church has received government funds for public service. He feels churches who offer public service can get a boost under the governor's plan.

Shelly Brown and Melanie Tomlinson attend Sherwood Baptist Church.

"A lot of times churches depend on people to just give money, they don't get any support. Sometimes people don't give and when you don't get money coming in, there's not much you can do going out," Brown says.

She says her church has several community programs - one where members provide breakfast at the Drayline, another where members counsel pregnant women considering abortion.

They feel when it comes to helping mankind, there is no separation between church and state.

"Our government is founded on religion and God. Our founding fathers began this nation on believing in God and what he had done for them so I don't see a problem with that," Tomlinson says.

Curtis Dixon who serves as the Deacon Chair of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church says his church is organizing a Family Development Task Force to help children with their academic studies and steer them away from doing wrong. He feels state money would surely help.

"Gangs are not the way to show love. The church is the place where love is shown."

Simmons feels the church has the responsibility to continue serving the public.

"One of the passages that we use is Matthew 25 when Jesus says we will be judged on judgement day by how well we've ministered to the least of those in our community and so we have to do it," he says.

With or without funding from the state.

Currently Georgia law prohibits the state from giving money to churches. Opponents of the governor's plan say it could lead the way for government vouchers to private schools. The plan needs to be approved by two thirds of both the House and Senate.

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