In 1997, a dream of a new ministry in urban Birmingham began to grow in the hearts of leaders within the Birmingham Baptist Association and Dawson Memorial BaptistChurch. Those early visionaries dreamed of an organization that would not only provide ministry and services to individuals and families in need, but would serve as a ministry incubator - creating program models that could be replicated by churches and ministries throughout the city, the state, and the nation. Other churches realized the potential impact of the vision. Eastside Baptist Church, Huffman Baptist Church, and South Avondale Baptist Church were the first congregations to lend their support. Reverend Sammy Campbell was selected to the lead this fledgling organization. Under Rev. Campbell’s guidance, this dream was realized in the creation of M-POWER – Mission to Provide Opportunities With Empowering Results.
M-POWER was incorporated with the State of Alabama on December 22, 1998.
The Avondale and Woodlawn communities of Birmingham were selected as the first area of focus and M-POWER located its offices on the property of what is currently New Hope Baptist Church, the former South Avondale Baptist Church. The first programs launched were M-POWER Afterschool, a one-to-one tutoring program for neighborhood children, and the Woodlawn Family Community Organization, an education and community service program for area families.
Over the years, the scope of M-POWER has expanded greatly. A benevolence ministry was created in which M-POWER assists local churches in distributing more that $40,000 in utility assistance annually. In 2000, a free, after-hours medical clinic was established under the direction of Dr. Tim Denton. In 2001, the Birmingham Baptist Association’s literacy ministry was transferred to M-POWER. In 2002, Reverend Bob Gladney became M-POWER’s second executive director. During his tenure, M-POWER continued to expand its programs and services, most notably expanding the medical clinic expanded to two nights a week. In 2006, M-POWER established a Christian Women’s Job Corps® program to better serve the needs of adult women in the community. Also in 2006, the medical clinic expanded to include basic dental services. In addition to these ongoing programs, M-POWER has operated a number of short-term and seasonal projects: including summer Bible schools, day camps, and family trips; a community health & resource fairs; and income tax assistance.
Today, M-POWER is a faith-based 501(c)3 non-profit ministry, governed by an independent Board of Directors, and working in close cooperation with its founders, the Birmingham Baptist Association, Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, and multiple partner congregations. M-POWER currently employees ten full- and part-time staff, including its third executive director, Ryan Hankins, and is funded by an interdenominational coalition of churches, organizations, and individuals.
While the work of M-POWER has continued to grow beyond the vision of its founders, its mission remains the same: to create opportunities for people in need to move from dependency to self-sufficiency.