Record participation ignites Southern Seminary’s third annual 1937 Project

Communications Staff — April 28, 2015

Boyce College athletic director and basketball coach Blake Rogers helps out in the Shelby Park Community Garden.
Boyce College athletic director and basketball coach Blake Rogers helps out in the Shelby Park Community Garden.

More than 300 students, faculty, and staff from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary went beyond the classroom to serve the city of Louisville in the third annual 1937 Project, April 18. The service project, which is part of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s Give A Day week of service, commemorates the seminary’s role in the 1937 Great Flood that left much of the city under water.

Fischer praised the seminary’s service efforts on Twitter, acknowledging their service to 20 different businesses and non-profit organizations during the project, saying, “@SBTSStudentLife strong work – love seeing you guys all over the community today!”

According to Southern Seminary’s Student Life office, a record 307 Southern volunteers worked more than 750 hours combined in diverse neighborhoods throughout the city. Several of the projects included demolition and renovation, clean-ups, and helping local non-profit organizations breathe new life into their property and buildings. Jeremy Pierre, dean of students, said it encouraged him to see students showing courtesy and love to other people through practical means.

Southern Seminary students Kyle Ryan and John Lax help renovate a home in Shelby Park through Access Ventures.
Southern Seminary students Kyle Ryan and John Lax help renovate a home in Shelby Park through Access Ventures.

“That’s why we do the 1937 Project, to create space in our campus life for being courteous to people who need the gospel,” he said. “Our students want to demonstrate such love, and they proved it with the excellent numbers who turned out. We’re hoping this only increases year to year.”

Several groups worked in Louisville’s Shelby Park neighborhood, an area Sojourn Community Church engages with on a regular basis, and where its Midtown campus is located. Groups worked in this area on demolition projects for new, small businesses in the area; remodeled an apartment for some of the church’s Urban Experience interns; and rebuilt the community garden in Shelby Park.

“I participated in 1937 because I love Louisville. It was also a good opportunity to practically love the city and share the gospel along with other Christians,” said student Victoria Mwongela, who volunteered in Shelby Park. “We can’t just be ‘those Christians’ who read their books and never do anything. I hope this will spark a heart of consistent love and service toward our neighbors.”

Other groups from Southern Seminary volunteered at Scarlet Hope, a ministry to women in the adult entertainment industry. The group helped Scarlet Hope with general labor around the house they use as an office and refuge for the women they minister to each week. Volunteers also worked with Scarlet Hope’s bakery to help prepare for its opening later this year.

Student Gabe Taylor hauls a load of debris while renovating Scarlet Hope's bakery project.
Student Gabe Taylor hauls a load of debris while renovating Scarlet Hope’s bakery project.

More than 10 people helped at St. Benedict Center for Early Childhood Education. Its  building needed painting, deep cleaning, and yard work completed. The education and childcare facility struggled financially this year, so the help 1937 Project volunteers offered was welcomed with gratitude from the center’s director.

A day before the 1937 Project, 25 volunteers from Southern Seminary worked with representatives from the mayor’s office to unload more than $500,000 worth of toys for underprivileged children in Louisville. Mayor Fischer tweeted praise for the seminary’s volunteers helping to prepare for the Holiday of Hope shopping spree. More than 3,000 children will benefit from this event through Kid’s Wish Network.

In addition to the Kid’s Wish Network, 22 volunteers worked with Kids Against Hunger, packing more than 20,000 dry meals for faith-based global hunger relief efforts.

More information about the 1937 Project and other Student Life events is available at sbts.edu/students.

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