Photo: Atlanta area men involved in the effort to recruit and train adults to mentor children of incarcerated parents include (back row from left): Norman Johnson, Khalid Battle, Robert Rowe, the Rev. Max Vincent, Jasper Russell, and Larry Coppock. Terence Johnson (left) and Scott MacKenzie kneel in front.
NORCROSS, Ga. –– The North Georgia Annual Conference initiated an effort to match adults in the Atlanta area with children of incarcerated parents.
Atlanta became the 18th area in which the mentoring program has been established by United Methodist Men.
The two-year effort to introduce the Big Brothers Big Sisters program to United Methodist churches is led by Larry Coppock, a staff executive of the General Commission on United Methodist Men. Travel expenses for meeting with conference leaders were covered by receipts from Human Relations Day offerings, managed by the General Board of Church and Society.
The mentoring program, called “Amachi,” was begun in 2000 by John DiIulio, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and W. Wilson Goode, former mayor of Philadelphia.
“Amachi” is a Nigerian Ibo word that means “Who knows but what God has brought us through this child.”
Founders of the mentoring effort report that America’s most isolated and at-risk children are the estimated 7.3 million children who have one or both parents under some form of state or federal supervision. Without effective intervention, 70 percent of these children will likely follow their parent’s path into jail or prison. The Amachi mentoring program was developed to provide them with a different path - by establishing the consistent presence of loving, caring people of faith.
United Methodists in the Atlanta area––as well as 17 other cities––have agreed to recruit and train Amachi volunteers.
Cities with Amachi volunteers include Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Memphis, Tenn.; Dallas, Houston, Lubbock and San Antonio, Texas; .New Orleans, La.; Detroit. Mich.;, Baltimore, Md.; Los Angeles and San Diego, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; Denver, Colo.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Oklahoma City, Okla.
During a March 27 meeting in Norcross, Ga., the Rev Max Vincent, pastor of Allen Memorial UMC in Oxford, Ga., and Robert Rowe, president of UMM of Central UMC, Atlanta, agreed to take the lead in recruiting Amachi volunteers. They will work closely with Scott MacKenzie, a staff member of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Atlanta.
Some of the Amachi volunteers will be matched with children in the United Methodist Children’s Home. Terence Johnson and Khalid Battle, staff executives of the Decatur home were also present at the March 27 Amachi launch.
The effort is support by Norman Johnson, president of North Georgia United Methodist Men and Jasper Russell, conference prayer advocate.