Small Church Tackles Big Homeless Problem

Rev. Eric Mack, Charleston County School Board Member

By Patrice Smith

Bethany Baptist Church at 790 Meeting Street in downtown Charleston could be considered the new kid on the block.

“We just celebrated our 20th church anniversary. We were established in 1997 when 75 people stepped out on faith to start the church,” says current pastor Reverend Eric Mack who has led the flock for the past 13 years. Bethany Baptist now has 225 members.

Rev. Mack was an associate minister at New Bethlehem Baptist on Wadmalaw Island when he learned that Bethany was looking for a new leader. He currently serves on the Charleston County School Board.

“I had the desire to pastor my own church so I put my name in and was selected.” Bethany moved into its existing building in February 1999 and built a new sanctuary in December 2004.

Rev. Mack says the goal of Bethany Baptist is the basis of Christianity which is to serve God’s people and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And Bethany Baptist is serving ‘the least of these’, the less fortunate.

“We pride ourselves on our outreach ministry that caters to the homeless individuals that are right in our own neighborhood,” Rev. Mack says.

Every week church members prepare meals for the homeless under the bridge across Romney Street.

“We feed them every Thursday from 5 p.m to 6 p.m. and give them clothes, bathing supplies and any necessities they may need. We also have one on one conversations giving spiritual guidance and we point them in the direction to additional resources,” according to Rev. Mack who says doing God’s work is very rewarding.

“It is rewarding to give somebody a hot meal and to give them hope,” Rev. Mack says the church is looking at ways to expand the young adult ministry to focus on young men, who make up a big part of the homeless population.

“We want to help them become responsible citizens. We are coming up with ways to draw our youth into the house of the Lord. We are coming up innovative ways to attract them to our congregation.”

And they are coming to the church according to Rev. Mack who says their efforts are working.

Bethany Baptist Church holds its Sunday worship service at 10 a.m. Sunday school is at 9 a.m. And Wednesday night bible study begins at 6:30. Bethany was in holding its bible study on the same night that Dylann Roof killed 9 members at Mother Emanuel.

“We installed a new upgraded security camera system immediately after the Mother Emanuel situation,” Mack says.

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