06 Apr 2024

Local Churches Rally Together to Provide Meals for SAU Students

In a heartwarming display of community support, nearly 20 churches have united to ensure that Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) students do not go hungry amidst challenging circumstances.

“I want to thank our growing list of pastors and churches who have come forward to help us during this critical time,” said SAU Interim President Dr. Marcus H. Burgess. “The outpouring of support from these 19 churches is a testament to the unyielding commitment to our students and the values of compassion and generosity that define the SAU community.”

The initiative, spearheaded by SAU alumnus Rev. Charles W. Brooks, ’82, Ms. Joyce Bannerman, Director of Testing, International Services Officer, and manager of SAU’s Food Pantry, and Dr. Cindy Love, Associate Vice President for Professional Studies and Enterprise Services, showcases the power of giving back and solidarity within the SAU community. Moved by the university’s current struggles, Rev. Brooks, who also serves as an adjunct professor of philosophy at SAU and pastor of Poplar Springs Christian Church, took it upon himself to connect local pastors and congregations with Ms. Bannerman and Dr. Love and provide essential meals for students facing food insecurity.

“We are getting calls daily from more community leaders looking for ways to help,” said Dr. Love. “The dedication of these pastors and churches to ensuring every student can access essential meals is truly inspiring.”

The recent announcement of SAU transitioning to remote learning due to unforeseen circumstances, including financial challenges impacting food services, prompted Rev. Brooks to take action. With the support of the Raleigh Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (RIMA) and the leadership of Rev. Stanley Byrd, President, churches quickly mobilized to meet the pressing needs of students on campus.

“Saint Augustine’s University laid the foundation for my successful life, and it is my honor to give back to the place that shaped me,” said Rev. Brooks. “The church response has been remarkable, including food vouchers, gift cards, cash donations, and catered meals.”

The current list of pastors and churches who have come forward so far to support SAU are as follows:

  • Pastor Tracy Bell, New Bethel Christian Church
  • Pastor Jamal Brown, Holly Springs United Church of Christ
  • Rev. Stanley Byrd, Kingdom Harvest Baptist Church,
  • Rev. Mark Gibson, Redeeming Love Baptist Church
  • Rev. Gwen Horton, In the Beginning Baptist Church
  • Rev. Dr. G. A. Jones Jr., Faith Missionary Baptist Church
  • Pastor James Perkins, Victory Tabernacle Church
  • Rev. Joyce Pulley-Hinton, Loving Word Baptist Church
  • Rev. Dr. Portia Rochelle, Word for Transformation Church and Outreach Center
  • Rev. Zinfindale Smith, Lee’s Crossroad Baptist Church
  • Rev. Dr. Joe Stevenson, Macedonia New Life Church
  • Rev. Dr. Kevin Sturdivant, Springfield Baptist Church
  • Pastor Frank White, Antioch Bible Fellowship
  • Rev. Dr. Harry White, Watts Chapel Baptist Church
  • Rev. Charles W. Brooks, Poplar Springs Christian Church

In addition to the RIMA-affiliated churches, the following pastors and leaders and churches from the community have come forward to support SAU students:

  • Pastor William Reader, Restoration International Ministry
  • Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr., Saint Augusta Missionary Baptist Church
  • Dr. Pauline Goza, Davie Street Presbyterian Church
  • Pastors Timothy and Michelle Edelen, Fountain of Living Waters Church

“When the call went out for support, there was no hesitation from the community and the churches to come to the aid of the students,” Ms. Bannerman said. “This speaks volumes of the importance of this institution and how valued we are within the community.”

The generosity and compassion exhibited by these 19 churches exemplify the deep-rooted sense of community and unity that defines SAU and its supporters. By coming together to support students in need, the churches have reinforced the values of compassion and solidarity integral to the SAU experience.

“It’s been great to see the community help in the university’s time of need. We still have several students on campus who need food and other supplies,” said Christionna Faison, a senior psychology major, and student-athlete. “Everyone is doing the best they can to help and support us. The continued support from alumni and others will help students, faculty, and staff, taking some of the pressure off and worrying.”

The recent challenges faced by SAU have garnered sensationalized media coverage, painting a bleak picture of the university’s future. However, the collective efforts of Rev. Brooks, the churches, and community leaders underscore a different narrative of resilience, unity, and care for the students who call SAU home.

“SAU prioritizes ensuring its students are fed by addressing and rising above their struggles. Through initiatives such as food assistance programs, partnerships with local organizations, and student support services, the university is committed to meeting the basic needs of its students, fostering a supportive environment for academic success and personal growth,” said Joevensky Seme, a senior majoring in biology. “As a student, I sincerely appreciate all SAU has done for me. Beyond academic growth, the university has played a pivotal role in my personal development and prepared me for the challenges of the real world. Their unwavering support and commitment to student success have impacted my life.”

Contact Dr. Cindy Love at clove@st-aug.edu to inquire about food service opportunities at SAU.