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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Answering His Calling, an interview with Pastor Dr. James Jackson, Sr.

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by Kara Kavensky

New Beginnings Fellowship Church Pastor Dr. James Jackson, Sr. shares his mission for his community.

Q: Tell me about growing up in Mobile, Alabama?
A; My father, who recently retired, was a Pastor for 45 years. Our church serviced downtown Mobile, which included the projects. As a kid, this is where all my friends lived and I am quite fortunate and blessed to have had both my mom and dad in the home. There are so many who didn’t have this. I had a lot of brothers who would stay over in order to have that connection.

Q: What did you do after high school?
A: After graduating high school, I had an opportunity to go to college. I earned an M.S. in Elementary Education from Tuskegee University. It was there that I was called to the ministry. I then earned a Masters of Divinity in Richmond, Virginia at the Virginia Union School of Theology in 2000. The United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, is where I earned my Doctorate of Ministry degree in 2007. I have sought to merge ministry and education, which is a focus of mine, to get parents involved in educational development of their children.

Q: For a time, you served the Tampa Bay area in Florida, how did you end up in Indianapolis?
A: I came to serve Indianapolis in the 46218 zip code with Eastern Star Church, received invitation to serve on staff with Pastor Jeffrey Johnson, and Assoc. of Preaching and Development, (2) and in 2004 was planted on the far east side, who planted me on the far east side, in the 46229 zip code, for the past 17 years. Oddly, I left Tampa around the same time as Tony Dungy for Indianapolis.

Q: When was New Beginnings Fellowship Church formed?
A: New Beginnings Fellowship Church started inside of Fall Creek Valley Middle School in 2004. They experienced a high level of growth and were able to purchase land off 21st Street and German Church within three years. New Beginnings built their current facility within a year. 2006 bought land. 2007 moved in.

Q: What have been your areas of focus as you have grown?
A: Taking care of the needs of children has been a priority. We added on a youth facility in the back of the church for teens, in addition to our existing daycare. We strive to get youth ready for school, development, education, and relationship-building. Our after school care programs are in the making.

Q: What type of efforts do you engage in with the community?
A: We participate in community projects with our young people. We have partnered with cleaning up the streets and we partner with Old Bethel to support a food pantry. We serve the needs of nearly 300 families with food assistance.

Q: Have you witnessed any trends within the ministry?
A: Our counseling ministry is in higher demand, so is our grief counseling.
We have counselors who help with the emotional health of those in our congregation.

Q: What type of workforce efforts does New Beginnings Fellowship Church support?
A: Prior to the pandemic, which has obviously presented some challenges, the Church offered Career Fairs with partners of ours. We help individuals prep and get ready for job placement and we are very much looking forward to having another [job fair] in the future. The church is working on motivating young people who may not have the opportunities of dual-parent homes and the economic fluency that they believe may dictate their future career. We are partnering with Eleven Fifty Academy, which is a program to help follow through on our intention. Individuals may not have the funds to go to college, but there are other ways to get a good job and leveraging tech is one path. We are providing an opportunity for families to transform their career through Eleven Fifty Academy.

Offering a localized cohort for individuals, with Eleven Fifty Academy curriculum of web development, software development, cybersecurity, or UX | UI, will help meet the deans of the tech industry with their rapid job growth. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a job growth rate of 22% for software developers between 2019 and 2029, compared with 4% for other occupations. Pastor Dr. James Jackson, Sr. understands growth, as the New Beginnings membership has grown from 300 to over 7000 parishioners. Being connected to their community is important to New Beginnings Fellowship Church, which offers streaming of their services, as well as an app to stay up to date with their congregation.

The mission of Eleven Fifty Academy is to build an ecosystem of tech talent that financially benefits the individual, their employer, and their community. There are definitely some synergies with their shared intentions.

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