Words of support only go so far, said the Rev. Ezra T. Maize. With Brainerd High School directly across North Moore Road from his Greater Tucker Missionary Baptist Church, he felt it incumbent to offer financial support to a needy neighbor.
Brainerd High, which has had falling graduation rates and little parental participation, has been classified as a priority school by the Tennessee Department of Education.
After conversations with the school's new principal, Uras Agee, and with students who are members of his church, Maize -- relatively new to the church -- felt burdened to do something for the school, "to be a blessing to them."
"[Agee and the students] were sharing with me that they were in need of a few things," he said. "They needed another computer lab. They still sit in old desks."
Maize decided Greater Tucker Missionary Baptist should hold a 24-hour preachathon, with people pledging so much money an hour or making whatever donation they could.
Today is the day.
At noon, Maize will kick off the event, with 22 other local pastors following him on the hour. At 11 a.m. Sunday, he will close the preach-athon.
Among the participating pastors are Timothy Careathers of Westside Missionary Baptist Church, Ron Cook of Rock Island Baptist Church, Sheryl Randolph of Living Word Ministries, Delford Hughley of Greater St. John Missionary Baptist and Jeffrey Wilson of New United Missionary Baptist Church. Wilson also represents the area on the Hamilton County School Board.
Maize said he hasn't given the pastors a topic but wants them to "preach whatever God puts on their heart."
"We want to see souls saved during the course of the 24 hours, too," he said.
Every pastor, according to Maize, will be accompanied by the church's choir or musician, who will perform one selection.
The offering plate will be passed hourly.
"I don't know if it's going to be $1,000 or $100,000," Maize said.
Three-quarters of the proceeds will be given to Brainerd High, though the money doesn't have to go to a media center or desks.
It should go, Maize said, for "whatever they feel [is] a need that would better the educational environment."
The rest of the money will be retained by the church for gang intervention workshops at other local schools.
Maize said he had done three previous preach-athons, one in Flint, Mich., and two in Knoxville, when he also worked with inner-city schools. He hopes teachers, students, administrators and alumni will drop by.
"I'm hoping whoever can will come," he said. "If people want to go a day without sin, they can come and hang out with us. We're really excited. It's an awesome school, and there are children there [who] just need to be loved on. We just want to reach out and love on them. We're committed to helping make them successful."
Contact Clint Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...