Four years ago, New Century Fellowship Christian Church (NCF) was formed under the leadership of lead pastor, Syvoskia Bray Pope, with the help of the Christian Church In Kentucky’s New Church Team. The church is nested in St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ in Louisville.
It quickly became apparent to the new pastor that the church needed to help provide life skills and church leadership training for its members. Hence, the New Century Fellowship Leadership Institute was begun. To obtain the funds necessary to begin to provide training, the New Church Team and Pastor Bray Pope applied for and received a grant through Black Church Leadership for African American Congregations. Since receiving that first grant, things have certainly evolved. The New Century Fellowship Leadership Institute was begun with church leadership training offered as one of three services that are provided through the NCF entrepreneur, nonprofit enterprise Empower Hope Center. Empower Hope Center was launched when NCF and the New Church Team became involved with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) National Benevolent Association Incubate SENT (Seminar: Equipping Social ENTrepreneurs for Leadership and Change).
In her Hope Changes Everything report, Rev. Bray Pope explains and reports on the success of the Empower Hope Center, which is entering its second year.
Hope Changes Everything
Syvoskia Bray Pope
In September 2017, the NBA Incubate Initiative hosted the 2017 SENT Seminar: Equipping Social ENTrepreneurs for Leadership and Change in Leavenworth, Kansas. Designed for Disciples and their leadership teams who are starting new health and social services ministries, the SENT Seminar covered the basics of nonprofit ministry startups, as well as skills for leadership and change in our global and faith communities. Syvoskia Bray Pope, Empower Hope Center, attended as a 2017 SENT Seminar Participant and shared the following reflection.
Before attending the SENT Seminar, I had no idea what impact it would have on turning my dream into a living project. I was so impressed at how the whole structure, from arrival to departure, was a joy leaping inside of me that said, “they care about what you have envisioned.” The workshops were well thought out and planned. I really enjoyed the hands-on exercise of setting up my social media page before I left. I am such a taskmaster, and checking that one off the list felt good.
The seminar’s location was the most beautiful place that I have had the opportunity to visit and sleep. It was a peaceful experience for me. The NBA staff were so incredible and professional in how they met with all the attendees. I felt that my dream was shared in a safe place, and it gave me time to reflect on what it could become. After the determination of where the “Empower Hope Center” would fit in the model discussed, I gained insight of how our model for mission was today.
We currently have three projects/ministries that operate out of the “NCF Empower Hope Center:”
1. Leadership Institute
2. Half-way House/Kristy Love Foundation
3. Young Adult Microbusiness Training
The “NCF Empower Hope Center” was designed to be the social service arm of our church. We had been helping women in the Kristy Love Foundation house transform as individuals and families through education, and spiritual formation through a weekly “1-hour of power.” Through this partnership, these women have been adopted into our faith community and they are receiving life skill training, mentorship, and transformation into a loving relationship with Christ. Every week I saw the work of the Holy Spirit moving in the lives of many women. I encountered what only God had planned, not me.
We can see the vision and dreams of what can happen in the future. Through life skills classes, financial education, and entrepreneurship training, these women can be better prepared to meet the demands of life. The story of our project came as a need for our faith community. We empower hope, because “We believe Hope changes everything.”
As we continue to move towards educating others in mission in EHC, we sought the need to offer a Leadership Institute track, which is a nine-month training program that teaches not only our core group, but other leaders in the community, to provide education and that helps them be better men and women prepared for ministry.
We plan to reach young African-American men and women by exploring entrepreneurship and teaching them how to start their own businesses. I believe the EHC has an opportunity to build sustainable programs to assist families in low/moderate income communities. We believe that we can become a resilient community where families can be educated to become sustainable, enriched, and empowered to achieve their hopes and dreams. Why? Because “We believe Hope Changes Everything.”
To learn more about the National Benevolent Association’s Incubate program, visit the NBA website at www.nbacares.org. For more information about New Century Fellowship Christian Church and its Leadership Institute and Empower Hope Center, visit the NCF Facebook page.