Church life

Church life
photo by Kevin Kalunian


Messiah Baptist Church is one of the oldest and most active African-American churches in Brockton, Massachusetts. From youth programs to financial investment groups, the church finds new ways to engage members across generations.
Community service is the foundation of both the church and the members, a quiet tradition spanning decades.
Journalism students at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, enrolled in Advanced Newswriting and Reporting taught by Prof. Maureen Boyle in the Spring of 2016, highlighted some of the service programs at Messiah Baptist Church to give the outside community a glimpse of the work church members do. As part of this class project, students used iPads to shoot photos and videos for the stories.
Special thanks to Rev. Michael Walker, pastor of the church, and everyone at Messiah Baptist for their help with the project. Also, thanks to the Community Based Learning program and Prof. Corey Dolgon at Stonehill, the iPad initiative programs sponsored by the college and Information Technology Department, Stonehill librarian Patricia McPherson and student liaison Liam Dacko for their assistance and support.

Service to community and the church

About Me

These stories and videos were written and produced by students at Stonehill College in the Advanced Newswriting and Reporting course, taught by Prof. Maureen Boyle. Students were supplied with iPads for the semester thanks to a technology grant and partnership with the Stonehill technology department. All of the student videos were shot on iPads and edited with the iMovie iPad app.

Before You Go... Let Us Know!

By Jeana Esernio

Losing a loved one is never easy. Dealing with grief itself can be painful and unbearable. Often times, losing a loved one can come without notice. Families and loved ones of the deceased don’t always know where to begin when it comes to planning the next steps in the final arrangements.

MessiahBaptist Church of Brockton members, along with the help of their funeral coordinator, Sharon Molden, wanted to help in this planning process by creating their own Funerary Ministry.

The Funerary Ministry at Messiah assists families and loved ones with every step of the funeral process. They meet with families at the time of death, assist them in meeting with funeral homes, receive the remains at the church, arrange for music and do the setup. The aim is to help families in a time of grief.

In October of 2014, Messiah Baptist Church and the Funerary Ministry sponsored their first workshop, “Final Wishes and Arrangements, Before You Go, Let Us Know” to prepare people and their loved ones for “life’s final responsibility.”

Molden said the idea for the workshop came in response to the number of funeral services at the church.

“Folks didn't know what to do in event of a death, they weren’t sure how to get a service started,” Molden said.

Local and Boston based funeral homes, florists, cemeteries and newspaper businesses were contacted by Molden and Messiah Baptist members to attend the workshop to discuss their detailed services and costs for funeral purposes.

“We asked each of these funeral homes to come in and give out information and cost materials about what it would cost like,” Molden said.

Five of six funeral homes the Funerary Ministry reached out to in Brockton and three from Boston attended the workshop.

For the workshop, Messiah’s Funerary Ministry created an 8-page document church members could fill out on their own. It was also sent out to other churches and ministries in the area. The document, once completed, would be kept on file for loved ones to access in event of a death.

 “The document is like a checklist. In an event of the death it helps them jog their memory about things they need to do and people they need to contact,” Molden said.
The “My Final Wishes and Arrangements” document includes specific details on who the executors of the estate are, where to find important documents, if the person wants to be buried or cremated, phone numbers of important people, and the music they want to be played at the funeral. The document contains all the information a person needs when planning a funeral service.

In addition, at the workshop, two seminars were presented on financing the cost of death and making your wishes known.

Stemming from the workshop was the realization of a need a support group for people who are dealing with grief. Molden, Reverend Michael W. Walker, and three deacons in training are currently preparing the proposal to launch the grief support group. The grief support ministry would help those in need of reconnecting or reconstructing an existence with “normalcy.” The group would be an outlet for members of the church to sit down and talk about their loss or pain.

“A combination of the funerary ministry and the community were looking for solace or to talk through pain after a death. Reverend Walker realized there was a strong need of counseling needed in this area,” Molden said.

The Grief Support Ministry is currently working to get their group up and running.

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