Publicity generated support for ministry

Published 11:25 pm Friday, November 7, 2014

To Whom It May Concern:

Much has been said lately about the Old School Men’s Meeting at the Stanley Community Center and the County Commission’s speculative involvement with that ministerial effort. We write this letter as a brief presentment of the truth with the hope of ending the speculation and distraction.

The Old School Men’s Meeting is the combined effort of men of all ages and all walks of life, and yes, they are all Christians. Our core group, because of our professions and our walks in life, see a desperate need for men to stand up and be men. Too often, husbands abandon their wives, fathers abandon their children, men abandon their faith, and they do it in all forms: adultery, addiction, abuse, absenteeism, just to name a few. The consequences are emotional and physical scars that are not easily healed. At the same time, some men are simply lukewarm in their faith, their desire to be the head of the household, and their willingness to lead their children. Still other men vibrantly shine in one or more of these qualities, and we know that we can all benefit from their wisdom. That said, we hope that this men’s meeting will bring men of all walks together because we know that “Just as iron sharpens iron, so shall one man sharpen another,” Proverbs 27:17.

The vision for this meeting has always centered around neutrality. Too often, men get hung up on things that divide us: Andalusia or Opp; church fellowship hall or National Guard Armory; black or white; rich or poor. The Stanley School House or Stanley Community Center, as it is commonly referred to, was once owned and operated by the State of Alabama. In 1959, it was conveyed to the deacons at Judson Church by Gov. John Patterson. Judson Church operated in and used the building for many years, and it became to all who lived in that area of the county, a community center. The deacons of Judson Church later gave charge of the building to the Stanley Community Association Board, and that Board has maintained and operated the facility ever since.

In our quest for neutrality, we saw this building as a great opportunity for the Old School Men’s Meeting. It was not in Andalusia or Opp, it was not Baptist or Methodist, it was not known as a black institution or a white institution – it was just known as a community center. What better place to bring men together in a neutral environment so that they could sharpen each other? So, Christians spent almost $6,000 beginning the renovation process of the community center. Christians volunteered countless hours and redid the plumbing and the electrical and installed new bathrooms in the community center. Christians replaced all of the busted-out windows, trimmed the overgrown hedges and replaced all the rotten wood in the floor of the community center. Christians did that in exchange for the right to use the building for the Old School Men’s Meeting. The Stanley Community Association Board had charge of the building for the remainder of the month so that the community would once again have a place to gather for weddings, pickin’s, pot-lucks, and the like. It brings us joy to provide for the betterment of the community center. Ownership of the building is of no consequence to us – we just find pleasure in knowing that others will once again be able to use the building as a community gathering place.

Now, a group from Wisconsin protests our efforts because they believe that government should be free from religion. We do not intend to debate them on the philosophical failures of their position, nor do we intend to argue points of Constitutional law that we believe they clearly distort. The truth is obvious…“In 2008 alone, more than $8.1 billion was committed to initiatives created by President Bush that give Faith Based Community Organizations a central role in addressing … human needs.” See the Final Report from the White House on the Faith Based and Community Initiative. The contribution by the Commission would have been similar to President Bush’s initiatives. No matter… the check tendered by the county commission that is the subject of the FFR complaint has already been returned to the county commission. It was never deposited, and despite rumors to the contrary, the money was not spent to facilitate the October men’s meeting. In fact, the check was not even issued until a week after the October Men’s Meeting.

God works in mysterious ways. Truth is, the tidal wave of support that we received in response to the article published in The Andalusia Star-News was worth far more than the check from the county commission. We were blessed in that regard. The Bible tells us that “for God is not a God of disorder, but of peace,” 1 Corinthians 14:33. Though we have received overwhelming support, we know that this has created anxiety for the County Commission, for some members of the community, and even for the good folks in Wisconsin. Therefore, because it is more important to us that we continue with this men’s meeting without disorder and distraction, we relinquished the check back to the county commission.

In its former glory, the Stanley School stood proudly as a fixture of the community. It was our intention to use the money from the commission to continue the renovations and to restore it to its proud stature – again for the betterment of the community center. No matter, God has provided and He will continue to do so. We will not be deterred by those who are antagonistic to Christians or to our efforts. We simply offer them our other cheek. For anyone interested in helping us meet our goals, please contact us via our FB page: Iron Works: “Iron Sharpens Iron” or donations can be made payable to CBA (put OSMM in the Memo section of the check) and mailed to OSMM at 205 Spruce Drive, Andalusia, Alabama 36420. Donations are tax deductible.

On Thurs., Nov. 20, at 7 p. m., so long as the good Lord is willing, we will hold our second Old School Men’s Meeting at the Stanley Community Center. We invite you men to come. We will treat you with a free steak, potato, sweet tea and a salad. We may even splurge for some sort of dessert. Danny Singleton, a basketball aficionado and men’s speaker, will address us men about why we matter. We also will have outdoor 3D targets for you bow hunters and we hope to have a hunter’s display set up inside for your browsing pleasure. There is no admission charge, but donations are appreciated – though not expected. We hope to see you there.

Yours in Service,

Chris Jackson

Walt Merrell

Mark Perry

Corey Bryan