Big Bethel AME Provides “Juvenile Justice Ark of Safety”

By Rev. Bessie Robinson-Donaldson

I truly believe that God knew that the desire of my heart was to touch the lives of young people in a way that would give them hope of a better future, and as a result He began sending children, one-by-one to my porch as we sat and talked just about general things, school, the family, etc. This led me to extend an open door invitation to “come and hang out with me at bible study sometimes”, which was happily accepted. One child went back and told someone else; and that someone else told someone else,…because they were experiencing love-relationships with people who truly had concern for their happiness and well-being.

The Juvenile Justice Ark of Safety Community Outreach Ministry was birthed at Big Bethel AME Church (Atlanta, GA).

Along with monthly worship services at the Regional Youth Detention Centers and group homes for boys and girls, this Ministry began to partner and network with various agencies to see what part it could play to better the lives of children and families.

In partnering with other faith communities, agencies, and organizations, the children are afforded opportunities to attend and be exposed to cultural, educational, and fun activities that impact their lives in such a positive way.

Many of the children have become active members of our congregation and are beginning to impact their homes by going back and talking about their experiences and being excited about them. Parents who had not made the church a part of their lifestyles are not recognizing that this is a very much needed in the upbringing of their children.

A new initiative At Big Bethel is called, “The Saturday Children/Youth Life Enhancement Initiative” which is held every Saturday from 10am – 3pm. This is designed to provide physical, emotional, spiritual, moral, and academic support to deprived, neglected, delinquent, abused and underserved children. We offer worship experiences to those who are detained in state facilities, or who are at-risk of becoming a part of one. This ministry enhances academic performance and achieves social stability while building self-esteem. As a part of this Initiative, some of our programs are: reading lab, math lab, computer lab, writing lab, etiquette, public speaking/presentation, the arts, parenting classes, personal growth through musical instruments, abstinence and pregnancy prevention sessions, and summer program opportunities to keep the children safe, healthy and engaged.

I believe that our charge is to find a way to assist and bring change in a simple way. Simplicity is the key. I also believe the old saying still stands, “It is easier to raise up a good child than it is to fix a broken adult”.


Visit the 'Be Involved' page to see how congregations and annual conferences are reporting on their faith in action for children in poverty.


Reading the Campaign booklet is a first step for becoming familiar with this initiative. It offers information and resources to encourage your activism. It can be viewed and downloaded at The Campaign page.

We hope that you will contribute information about your work with children. Descriptions of your ministries will be helpful to others who want to deepen their involvement to care for children in poverty.

You can influence the Campaign’s effectiveness.  Be involved.  Offer your ideas.  Encourage others.

Trusting in God, we dare to envision a world in which every child experiences love, care, and hope. Together we can be the difference in the lives of children in poverty.



More Annual Conferences Join Campaign

August 2017:  Welcome Dakotas Conference UMC where Rev. Rebecca Trefz is the Campaign liaison, and the Minnesota Conference where Rev. Lyndy Zabel is the liaison.

Welcome new liaisons

Spring 2016: We are delighted to welcome the Rev. LaVeatrice Crockrum as liaison with Birmingham Region (Alabama) of CME, and Ms. Judith Yohane representing AME Malawi Central, Malawi North, Malawi South, Central Zimbabwe, Northeast Zimbabwe and Southwest Zimbabwe Annual Conferences!

More Annual Conferences Join Campaign

December 2015: Welcome Nigerian Annual Conference (CME), Rev. Koko Sunday Daniel, liaison; Liberia Annual Conference (CME), Rev. Christian Keller, liaison; Ghana/Togo Conference (CME), Rev. Sampson Fianko, liaison)


Sign up to receive email updates

No events