A call for churches, community to come together

Unified Ministries organizing tour of Black historical sites in Daytona Beach


“Daytona Beach is a family-oriented community. Everyone knows someone that knows someone that knows you.”

The Howard Thurman Home is one of the stops on the Unified Ministries’ Black Heritage Trail walk this weekend.

That is what Claudine Khouri, who moved from Miami, believes about the area she has adopted as her new home.

Khouri says the city has the perfect ingredients to form an organization to bring the community even closer together.

A number of area churches have organized to help bring the Daytona Beach community together.

The organization calls itself Unified Ministries.

Churches that are part of the organization include A Touch of His Hem Ministry, Abraham Daughter’s House of Refugee Food and Pantry Ministry, Living Water Cathedral Church of the Living God, Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, Mt. Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, Mt. Zion AME Church, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church and Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

Avenue to support other churches
Khouri, who is a member of Morning Star Missionary Baptist and one of the founding members of the group, says members of other churches coming together “is a way of saying we are a community.”

The Rev. Inez Stafford, an associate member of Mt. Bethel AME Church, also a founding member of Unified Ministries, hopes the group will be an avenue to inform churches of activities they are having so they are better supported – not only by church members.

“We need to come together more and participate in other church’s activities,” Stafford said.

Seeking positive connections
Usually churches and people in the Black community come together involving something negative that has happened, Khouri noted.

Claudine Khouri, Lynn Carew, Toni Charles, Benjamin Broxton and the Rev. Inez Stafford, founders of Unified Ministries, are shown at a meeting to discuss the Black Heritage Trail tour. (COURTESY OF UNIFIED MINISTRIES)

For example, she cited churches organizing after the shooting death of Black teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford by George Zimmerman.

“We should also rally the community to something positive,” said Khouri.

Unified Ministries has been organized since March 2011.

Khouri said United Ministries has yet to have a fundraiser and is supported by members of the organization who believe in their goal.

“We are asking God to lead us in the right direction,” Khouri remarked.

Walking tour takes place Saturday
On Saturday, June 30, the group is inviting residents to join them on  a walking tour of historical sites in the heart of the Black community.

The tour will begin at 9 a.m. at Bethune-Cookman University and will include the home of Mary McLeod Bethune, Campbell’s Hotel, the John H. Dickerson Center, the Daytona Times office, Howard Thurman House and Mt. Bethel AME Church.

Khouri said there will be cars available to take those who are unable to walk to the different historical sites.

Retired educator Eartha Watson will be giving a presentation at Mt. Bethel, where the tour will end and refreshments will be served.

The aim of this activity on Saturday is to educate residents who may not know information about historical sites in Daytona Beach that were built and founded by Blacks, Khouri explained.

“A lot of people don’t know about the legacies in Daytona Beach. They only know about Mary McLeod Bethune,” Khouri said.

Khouri said Unified Ministries hopes to have at least two and probably no more than five activities, which will bring the community and all members of churches together.
Stafford said churches can be unified as communities of faith and share with each other what’s going on in their churches.

“We can come together to show that there are some positive things. We don’t only have to come together when something bad happens,” Stafford added.

Last year, Unified Ministries sponsored a luncheon for senior citizens and a teen summit.

For more information about the Black Heritage Trail walk and Unified Ministries, contact Khouri at 386-265-7644 or Stafford at 386-295-5915.


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