Church Establishes New Shelter

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Fifth Street Baptist Church is opening the Christ's Extended Hands Ministry Shelter in its annex, the church's former sanctuary at 501 10th Avenue. The church has kept its original name, but recently built a larger worship building on Highway 45 North.

Combining forces with the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and the Meridian Housing Authority, Fifth Street Baptist Church is currently housing 41 women and children from public housing in Biloxi who needed a temporary place to stay.

"We're working closely with the housing authority," said Sabrina Prince, director of Christ's Extended Hands Ministry. "And they were in need of sheltering, women and children, so we opened our arms to them."

"They're in housing that they have to get out of right away," said Derwin Jackson, executive director of the Meridian Housing Authority. "And so we're able to, luckily we're able to take a part in that and assist them, and also blessed that the church has a facility to bring them here."

It's another example of organizations working together to make a difference. The church provided the location and many of the workers and the Ministerial Alliance and the Housing Authority pitched in to help with the rest.

"Manpower, blankets, food, you name it, anything that can make the needs of the people who have lost nearly everything that they own," said the Rev. William Brown, pastor of Fifth Street Baptist Church. "They've been able to assist us with that."

Brown said he believes the mission of Christ's Extended Hands Ministry is simple.

"To feed them, make sure the children are in school. We've got a shuttle ministry to provide transportation, help them find jobs," said Rev. Brown. "This is a transitory shelter, which means that they're not here to stay but we're here to help them establish, re-establish their lives."

The shelter has been advised to prepare for six to 12 months of operation. It is in need of monetary donations, food and toiletry items, even donations of foam padding for the beds.