The Rev. Mike Campbell spends what little spare time he has catching up on movies. Campbell, 46, is senior pastor at Redeemer Church, at 640 E. Northside Drive. After spending more than a decade in Miami, the Bluefield, Va., native moved to Jackson almost seven years ago, with his wife, Keren, and their three children.
"We came from a major city to work here. We want to do good for the city. This is our home, not a stepping stone for us," he said. The good he is doing for the church and the city is building a multi-racial congregation.
"A core group of members at Redeemer wanted to build this type of congregation. And after less than seven years, it is working," he said.
A successful multi-racial congregation is defined as one that contains at least 20 percent of a minority race. The makeup of Redeemer is about 68 percent white, 30 percent African American and 2 percent other ethnicities, Campbell said.
Campbell, his family and the congregation have "hit the streets" in traditional and non-traditional outreach efforts in the community. They invite community members to fish fries, weekly Bible studies, fall festivals and the like, as well as their nontraditional approaches.
We have a real heart to find all kinds of ways to reach out to our neighbors," Campbell says.
"From the start, we have done a number of things including a tutoring program for JPS students from elementary age through high school, a basketball ministry on Tuesday night, even though we don't own a gym, and our Sister Cooks program where women in our congregation mentor young girls who are dealing with becoming young ladies," Campbell said.
"The ladies in our church developed this program from the ground. It's a discipleship to grow in faith and not just cook as the title infers," he said of the Sister Cooks program.
Campbell graduated from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., in 1992, where he earned his master's degree in ministry. He recently returned to the university to begin his doctorate work. One of the first-year components of the degree is to complete a community assessment. For the survey, Campbell obtains information from residents, and frequently goes door-to-door.
"Many of the neighbors and people in the community have a positive view of the community and their neighbors," he said. "They appreciate life in the community and what they have. It is working."