Like schools and other churches in the community, Word Tabernacle Church could not open its doors for the traditional celebration of graduates. Instead, the church opened its Center for Media and Broadcasting to the community.
Every school in Nash and Edgecombe counties, including charter and private schools, received an invitation for a graduating senior to represent their class by giving a pre-recorded speech for a 2020 Baccalaureate Service.
The speeches were broadcast on Word Tabernacle’s website and social media outlets so the entire community could attend together.
Associate Pastor Kyle Johnson, a Nash County Schools graduate and former Edgecombe County educator said, “I know we are many schools, but we are all one Twin County Family. Family supports each other and comes together.”
Speeches were presented by 2020 seniors, ECPS Superintendent Valerie Bridges and state Rep. and Senior Pastor James Gailliard.
Word Tabernacle knows many people will continue the educational journey by going to college. It established the WTC Ambassador Scholarship eight years ago for students attending four-year-colleges in efforts to support them. It later included the Xavier Benjamin Wiggins Scholarship for community college students.
The church has awarded 16 scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year totaling $31,000. Scholarship recipients have attended colleges locally and throughout the country. Since its inception, the scholarship program has awarded $155,000 to students and $21,940 to Bennett College.
Recipients have included traditional students, adults re-enrolling for a degree and students working toward certifications. They are now teachers, software developers, graphic designers, entrepreneurs, activists, pastors, therapists and other roles that allow them to employ their passions.
“The church must equip individuals in a way that will empower them to thrive. People who thrive will continuously have positive impacts on their community. The scholarship program is one of the methods used to ensure this happens,” Johnson said.
The Impact Center at Word Tabernacle hosted ECPS’s school leadership training for the 2020-21 school year. It will also host a Pop-Up Cafe organized by the STEP (Strategic Twin County Educational Partnership) program and NCPS. The cafes will be monitored by NCPS staff in local churches and organizations who open their facilities and wifi capabilities for NCPS students to engage in schoolwork through virtual learning.
In addition to this, the next generation ministries offered free tutoring to members of the church and community for years. The work has transitioned to a virtual platform amid COVID-19.
“Education is a type of salvation which rescues people from their situation, guides those lost in their life journey, and empowers individuals to thrive socially,” Gailliard said.
Supporting educational efforts through the school system, ministries and individuals’ lives have been at the core of the church’s work since it was established in 2005, and it will continue to be.
The recording of the 2020 Baccalaureate Service, information about the tutoring program and Pop-Up Cafes can be found on the church’s website at www.wordtab.net.