BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Mount Zion AME Church is inviting the community to a special service at 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, to raise funds for Bethune-Cookman University students. The church is located at 449 S. Martin Luther King Blvd., Daytona Beach.
The church is hoping to raise thousands of dollars for its scholarship fund. Money raised will be go to the university. Mount Zion and the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Legacy Committee are hosting the fundraising drive to benefit need-based scholarships at B-CU.
“We want to get more people involved now to raise funds to sustain the university’s future. There is a need to raise scholarship funds for students with the school’s current financial standing,” said Fred Beneby, a longtime B-CU volunteer.
‘A small gesture’
The church believes its donation – whether large or small – will be beneficial to college students.
“We want to do something special. It’s a small gesture. We’re not giving out full rides, but it’s a way that we can help and show that we are here. The students can benefit from a few extra dollars,” expressed the Rev. Wendell Webster, the newly installed pastor of Mount Zion A.M.E. Church.
Webster is a strong supporter of HBCUs, being both a graduate and a former employee of Wilberforce University in Ohio.
“I’m new to the area. I have only been here for the past seven months. I have a passion for HBCUs. I am a graduate of one and I have worked at one. Why not support our HBCUs? They need our help and this particular one in our community does too.”
Thankful for partnership
Bethune-Cookman is thankful for the support.
“Community partnerships have long been a part of the legacy of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. Her Sunday afternoon meetings would bring individuals from across Daytona Beach to address the most pressing needs of the day,’’ explained Dr. Clifford Porter, B-CU’s vice president of Institutional Advancement.
“The Legacy Committee has reached out to the university with their desire to address the financial needs of B-CU students during this special Sunday service at Mount Zion AME Church.’’
More such services?
Bethune-Cookman is trying to turn around its financial problems.
Mount Zion is the first local church to do such an endeavor with the Legacy Committee.
Beneby noted, “This is the first church to do so. We have invited others to join in and attend the service. Maybe another church or others will do one in the future.”
How idea originated
The worship service and scholarship fundraiser idea came about in a casual way.
“I actually came to visit the church and got to talking with the pastor. I decided to donate six months of my service to the church. The pastor and I talked about it and decided to do something,’’ Beneby noted.
“We spoke with Dr. Porter, who is B-CU’s vice president for Institutional Advancement and he was for it.”
The fundraiser aims to not only muster up community support but attract more young adults to assist in the institution’s fundraising efforts.
“We want to get more young people involved as well. We have some gift-giving events coming in the near future too. Hopefully, it starts with this service,’’ Beneby shared.
There will be a repast and prayer service for young adults following the service.
How to support it
Webster also emphasized Bethune-Cookman’s impact on the community. It’s been noted that the school has an economic impact in the Daytona area anywhere between $256 million to $300 million.
“We hope the community comes out and show up for Bethune-Cookman, which has had such a huge impact on the community. So let’s show our love and support,’’ he added.
Checks can be made payable to Mount Zion A.M.E. Church and should be specified for the “B-CU Scholarship Fund.” Dress attire is suggested to be casual.
For more information, contact the church at 386-252-2412 or Beneby at 386-882-8401.